Monday 19 April, 2010
Entry #1 (4/17/10 - 7:51pm)
I played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas several years ago and even back then, without consciously observing the ethics involved I was in awe by how easily the main character, C.J., gets away with just about anything. Starting the game over fresh today, even after five years of added life experience and desensitization, I was left with the same impression.
The first thing the player must do to escape rival gang territory and advance is steal a stranger's bike. This is a common theme in GTA. The player must do unlawful and typically unethical things to advance in the story. If one were to attempt to follow any realistic set of morals while playing, he would be totally stuck, as breaking those rules is required to advance. There are no ethical options to make progress in the story. Peace cannot be made. C.J. can't get a job. You can't turn yourself in. You can't change the world. You are stuck in a vortex of illegal action; kill or get killed. It makes me wonder about life in the slums of cities similar to San Andreas. What if there were no moral options to keep you and your family alive? Do some people have it like C.J.?
Entry #2 (4/18/10 - 10:17am)
The player is allowed to stray extremely far away from the storyline and wander the streets if he chooses to do so. When C.J. commits a crime, depending on its severity and how many times it is done, the player is "awarded" a certain number of stars. The stars indicate his wanted level. I say "awarded" because one of the game's core mechanics is killing people who are trying to kill you. When you start building up an arsenal and rival gang members become too easy or too scarce, the police offer a new challenge. Running from swarms of SWAT members and helicopters is in my opinion the most exciting part of the game. Seeing if you can reach six stars and live requires more focus, strategy and skill than any other encounter; the only way to engage in this challenge is to kill hundreds of people.
Doing the "right thing," following the law, or people with any level of mutual respect is totally unrealistic in this world. Games are made to be fun and the only to have fun in this game is to break the law. In this realm, they are synonymous.
Entry #3 (4/18/10 - 8:43am)
I feel like Kant would be rolling in his grave if he saw such low repercussions for C.J.'s actions. The only way to not break moral laws in this game is to just wander around and never use any of the buttons, because most of them make C.J. do something destructive.
Utilitarians would also feel tortured playing GTA. C.J. disregards the wants and happiness of everyone in this game besides himself and his sister. There is no way that his happiness outweighs the happiness of everyone he kills and their mourning families.
But what do I know; maybe on Grove Street in San Andreas the customs of the people are far different than mine here in Chicago. According to a follower of Relativism, it is not up to me or anyone else to judge C.J. besides himself. Since we decided that Relativism is not a workable moral code, I can conclude that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas does not follow or enforce any moral code. If the player gets caught or killed doing something illegal, he is brought back to life with a few hundred less dollars and no weapons in his arsenal. This is the same punishment inflicted if he murders one hundred people or steal one bike. There is no justice served on any level.