Monday 18 January, 2010
On my third day of playing, I finally discovered an aspect of the game I enjoy- cheat codes. Some of them are really funny (wearing a jet pack, getting really fat, all of the prostitutes wearing dildos) and it helped me realize that the game and the developers donít take it as seriously as I have been.
Today I tried thinking from the perspective of the game developers. One thing that Iíve kept saying in my game log is that the lifestyle portrayed isnít a healthy or glamorous one, and that itís harder for white kids from the suburbs to understand that. Then it dawned on me that probably 99.99% of the people making the game fit into that group. So to these developers, the thought of gang life isnít a reality at all. And it obviously sells. Just a random thought.
The stereotypes in this game are really strong. Women are ďhosĒ and tools for men to use. None of the white people are threats, only the Hispanic and black people. Older people donít really enter the game. All cops are the enemy. The stereotypes are so prevalent that I stopped wondering if any white people were ďballasĒ or threats to my missions.
In my game log yesterday, I talked about how there was a mission to beat up a crack dealer. I didnít think it made sense for CJ and the gang to do this, but my friend told me the police are in on it so that helped me realize that this is their only solution. In this case, they have to make their own laws and moral code because the moral code given to us by the government and law is failing. I guess it makes sense that they would have to take matters into their own hands. Beating up a crack dealer made me cringe, but the beatings and thefts and murders are seen as self-defense.
I find it interesting how behaviors that I would never do in real life are rewarded in the game. In my first game log, I think I noted that if you want to advance in the game, there isnít room for ethical decisions. After realizing that, I just stopped thinking about what I was doing and didnít think twice before shooting anyone. After all, it gives my character more street cred and respect. I had to go buy some clothes to represent my gang, and I was praised for killing the people in the store instead of paying for the clothing.
What is really starting to bother me about the game is how there arenít any real consequences for CJ or anyone else. The police rarely show up, and when they do itís just a matter of killing them and driving away in a new stolen car. There is no real accountability for the players. The player is invincible. If you die in the game, you start over. Since CJ is invincible, the player might get the subconscious message that they will be too if they do things like this in life. Right and wrong as displayed in this game are really ambiguous. In the game, what is considered wrong by most in the real world is right.
Curiously, the lack of consequences also applies to CJ's "good actions". If you don't follow the missions, it is impossible for you to clean up a gang regardless of how many gang members you kill (they just respawn after a while). So not only are there no consequences for, say, killing innocent bystanders, but non-innocent ones as well!
Thursday 21 January, 2010 by jp