Grand Theft Auto 5 Made Me Sad.

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Frybird:
It sounds like you blame GTA V for not spelling out that the awful characters do awful things.

But in my experience, satirical stuff usually never does that, and is all the better for it.
Good writing does let you that figure out for yourself.

If you do not like that the game acts differently than you see things, that's fine. But to criticize the game for it just seems like you haven't informed yourself about GTA.

Satire, by definition, always "does that" to at least some extent. Allowing the audience to figure out the message for themselves is one thing, but there must always be something present to let them in on the "joke," or else the joke is functionally nonexistent. Good writing is not leaving the audience dangling and grasping for meaning, but guiding them to a specific meaning in a manner that still allows them to do a sizable amount of mental work. A written work which either explains or obscures its meaning too much inexorably damages itself in the process, and is thus entirely open to criticism. Perhaps GTA V is attempting to point at its characters and say what utterly unappealing people they are, but if the only thing that such a sizable amount of players are seeing is the game sitting back on its haunches and expecting the player to go along with it and have a blast doing so, then it is a failed attempt.

GodzillaGuy92:

Frybird:
It sounds like you blame GTA V for not spelling out that the awful characters do awful things.

But in my experience, satirical stuff usually never does that, and is all the better for it.
Good writing does let you that figure out for yourself.

If you do not like that the game acts differently than you see things, that's fine. But to criticize the game for it just seems like you haven't informed yourself about GTA.

Satire, by definition, always "does that" to at least some extent. Allowing the audience to figure out the message for themselves is one thing, but there must always be something present to let them in on the "joke," or else the joke is functionally nonexistent.

I cannot possibly imagine that GTA has nothing to "let them in on the joke"...they basically would have to cut out stuff shown in the trailers and TV Spots for this to be true.

Good writing is not leaving the audience dangling and grasping for meaning, but guiding them to a specific meaning in a manner that still allows them to do a sizable amount of mental work. A written work which either explains or obscures its meaning too much inexorably damages itself in the process, and is thus entirely open to criticism

I'd agree, but the problem for me is, both the Review and the Editorial fail to comment on that. It just scolds the game for giving the characters insufficient motivations (despite pointing out that they are driven by "malaise, greed and psychosis", wich usually is a sufficient motivation even in real life) and is sad about a darkly satirical game about crime and the shallowest of american lifestyles because these things are dark and sad.

Perhaps GTA V is attempting to point at its characters and say what utterly unappealing people they are, but if the only thing that such a sizable amount of players are seeing is the game sitting back on its haunches and expecting the player to go along with it and have a blast doing so, then it is a failed attempt.

I don't know, many people fail to see the satirical elements of "Robocop" and "Starship Troopers", but i wouldn't dare to call one or both a "failed attempt" (even though there are worlds between the former and the latter).

WWmelb:
Great article. I got the sense of this article from the review and glad to see it fully fleshed out.

Morally reprehensible characters are fine if they are well written and engaging characters. Tommy V and CJ for instance in the GTA series.

Great read Greg and cheers.

Ah, so this explains why the common crook or even terrorists, are reviled and easy to hate, while similar assholes like the Kray twins, Al Capone,and other criminals are found fascinating, even sometimes regarded as "celebrities" or "cool".

You know what, it's good that Rockstar made assholes unlikable. They should be. People shouldn't like these characters, much in the same way people don't like the common crook. A crook is a crook. It's naive, simple, black-and-white-idealistic but hey, why the hell should anyone like a crook?

I can certainly imagine a player playing through that mission who might laugh or cheer when the guy's head exploded. That's not me...
Read more at http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/10604-Grand-Theft-Auto-5-Made-Me-Sad.2#Ey7DMGjtoElask7c.99

But it IS you! Or was, at least. It was you when you were running over those hapless pedestrians, shooting bystanders and what-not. I can't wrap around how being duped to do horrible things is worse than doing horrible things willingly. I'd argue that doing horrible things willingly is much, much worse.

Wait, doing horrible things to people and having a blast while at it, that sounds like Trevor.

I couldn't ignore my churning gut and upchuck five stars for a game whose defining emotion wasn't excitement or elation, but sadness

Why not? The Walking Dead and Spec Ops: The Line are defined by sadness. Are you saying these games don't deserve the praise they're getting? Hell, even GTA IV is defined by sadness, Niko being as tragic and depressing as GTA IV has ever gotten, yet in your GTA V review, you gave him words of praise

GTA V should not be praised for a shoddy story with little regard to writing strong protagonists the audience can understand and appreciate.

There's a quip here about Dragon Age II and the inconsistent motivations of its characters just waiting to be made, but I'm guessing even as I write this, someone must be willing to take on that one. I'll let it slide, partly because I do love DAII to bits in spite of all its faults

You meet each of the three characters slowly(...)

I can agree that the three character format leaves for some confusion in the character development department. See? There's your first valid complaint. Yet, at their very worst, they're par for the course with CJ or Niko or Vercetti. Not Marston, as I put him in a level of his own and as an actual anti hero and felt that though the game allowed me to go on shooting sprees, it's something that is there, and not something Marston would do. But point being, though the experiment with the shifting perspectives ruins the story arcs a bit, there's not much to tell these characters from those of previous games.

What you might be hinting at is the lack of an antagonist. But while that's present in other games, it's also quite easy to argue that Vercetti goes unchecked by anything but his own greed and sociopathy for much of Vice City and that CJ, while offset by Tenpenny, spends the bulk of his time in San Fierro and Las Venturas carving out his own empire. His sister actually acknowledges that much and that expanding his criminal activities do have a ring of futility to it once they're out of the hood and making a new start.

Shit, if you have soul, you should probably stop reading too.

Now that's just fucking condescending and patronizing.

There are several problems with this mission. It's meaningless. Lester seems angry at Lifehacker for some reason, but it's never adequately explained what his beef really is.

In the world of GTA, these brutal acts keep getting commited for the most trivial of reasons. CJ kills Madd Dogg's Agent without a second thought, and we have no reason to dislike the guy other than him being a douche who is disliked by an even bigger douche who happens to ask you to do this as a favour. If anything, in that scenario, you're Michael's friend, which actually makes it worse. Let alone the fact that CJ not only kills the manager but his escort who did absolutely nothing to deserve to be killed. But let me stress this again: "In the world of GTA, these brutal acts keep getting commited for the most trivial of reasons."

It's everywhere, even in the DJs of the damn radiosm who are, invariably, self serving bastards alternating between the lunatic, the creepy and the pathetic. Lazlow as a metal head in V-Rock is a creep, Sage as the angsty anti everything pseudo intelectual grunge girl has nothing to be sympathetic about and those are the ones who do not molest or murder anyone (as well as the ones I'd tend to sympathise the most being a mid 30s metal fan with some insider knowledge of the culture they lampoon). The world of GTA is a cruel looking glass of the worst in urban life where even the heroes and the paladins (like Manny Escuela) are in it for the most self serving of reasons and claim to be out of the game in the same breath that they send you to do something awful for them. The world of GTA is a consistently gruelling look at our own faults, even as we revel in them. And this should cover your qualms about the supporting cast as well. They're scumbags who force you to do stuff against your morality. And that differs from previous games how?

I understand Los Santos is supposed to parody the vapidity of L.A. - and I hate that city as much as the next New Yorker - but the constant cynicism is tiring.

See above. And seriously, doesn't GTA IV do exactly the same with the same gruelling sarcasm about NY?

I'll skip the part about the torture scene because, well, quite agreed, there's no justification for it, and I'd even one up you one further by saying that the level of graphical fidelity we have these days should make developers be more responsible of the content they include. The head popping scene with the graphics of a Vice City or a san Andreas would at worst be silly. It's the fact that the current gen can navigate the uncanny valley much better that should give pause for thought before throwing in a torture scene for no reason. The White Phosphorus scene in spec ops is grueling, but also justified as a plot point, and that to me is how it should be done.

Quite frankly, your explanation of the review, nice gesture though it is, manages to expose the contradictions even further. It's perfectly valid to not like the game's content or humour. However:

a) You criticise things that have always been staples of the franchise in the same breath that you use previous instalments of the franchise as comparison points. And the fact is, there's nothing here they have not done before, and nothing here that is inconsistent with the previous games of the series. Maybe you changed, and to you the GTA's hallmark opressive humour is not as funny as it used to be. But that being the case, don't bring up past installments as a means of comparison. The ugliness you see now is the ugliness that has always been there.

b) You seemingly tend to criticise the game for not pandering to your expectations, something which is made abundantly obvious when you use The Daily Show and The Onion and basically say "why can't you be more like this, GTA?". Well, it isn't, it never has been, and it had always had more in common with the humour shown in The Office ( the british one, not the watered down US adaptation), Shameless, or The Thick of It. In fact, a good deal of GTA's world could easily have been written by Armando Iannucci or Ricky Gervais, who both have a relentless, harsh, downright cruel and irredeemable approach to their humour. And it's fine if it's not to your tastes. Where even subjectivity cannot save you as an argument is where you seemingly want an established franchise to start catering to your tastes, in pretty much the same breath you use to excuse past iterations for doing the exact same things this one does.

And if even with a 3 page article, you can't bring your point across without tripping on your feet, I suggest you heed your own advice: writing a contrarian opinion needs stronger writing to back it up.

I think this game is a reaction to the criticism of their games in the past especially the so called cognitive disson... whatever.

Who else could do the things the player does except for psychotic evil crazy people. They've now made those characters, they havent tried to jusify things. Which in my opinion is worse. Good people justifying bad things you end up with alot worse happening.

The whole world of GTA are sort of this nihilistic social commentary nightmare world, where everyone is an arsehole or crazy. You dont really feel bad about doing anything in it because everyones bad(well I dont). Its roleplay not real.

I cant wait to play it.

Calabi:
I think this game is a reaction to the criticism of their games in the past especially the so called cognitive disson... whatever.

I think you're referring to "Ludonarrative Dissonance".

Blood Brain Barrier:
It sounds perfectly true to the heritage of GTA, Greg. My memories of playing the first GTA at the age of 12 include getting missions over the phone to run over 20 pedestrians in under a minute, for absolutely no reason at all than getting paid for it.

So you believe that because GTA V is true to its roots, it's a respectable game?

I think the video game industry has come a long way since the days of GTA 1 and 2... And I certainly wouldn't want every game to take after the first entry in the franchise.

i must be getting old because from what i just read its a nasty piece of work

A copy of GTAV ended up in my household yesterday.

My saddest moment was driving through traffic to shouts of "You look like a tranny!"

That and the homophobic paparazzi dude. Franklin TRIES to address the issue with the guy, but then drops it to go catch photos of old actress snatch.

But hey, at least Frankie got a free motorcycle for it.

Shamanic Rhythm:
Great article, Greg. What I'm getting from you is the sense that Rockstar have moved on from making games that parody society in the traditional sense of the word 'parody', i.e. by making you laugh at absurd characterisations because you can see the links to reality; and are now making games under the postmodern understanding of 'parody', where parody and irony in general need not require any attempt to humour the audience, only to reference something.

This, btw, is a problem not just for GTA V but with a number of different forms of media, particularly literature. As a PhD student in English Literature I find postmodernist literature and criticism the laziest, sloppiest form of theory in existence. 'Cleverness' is continually misconstrued as the ability to cram a thousand references into a text, and your own credibility as a critic hinges on whether or not you get them all. There's no attempt to invoke real humour, only to sneer at everything.

The GTA3 era games were true to the original concept of parody. This was evident not only in background details like the radio stations and pop culture references, but in the overall story and the characters you played. Tommy Vercetti and CJ played straight man to hundreds of caricatures they encountered throughout the story, making you feel like an agent in an absurd comedy. This sense of humour is what made the gratuitous violence tolerable, in the same way that it works in a Tarantino film. Against the backdrop of that humour, you occasionally can look at something and shake your head at how close it comes to the reality of society.

For me, GTA IV wasn't as good because it went in the other way. It tried so hard to make social commentary that it was seemingly afraid that using humour would invalidate its irony cred. Everything was too realistic to be taken as a caricature, and every violent act just made me less interested in the game as a whole. It's a shame that GTA V has gone down the same path.

Just out of question, what do you see Saint's row as? Because It had split off from GTA's seriousness after the first game and became an extended reference-fest full of crazy for the sake of crazy and nothing else.

I can agree that It is lazy to an extent based on your definition but I can't deny that I laughed

I don't begrudge reviewers for giving games "bad" scores. That's no different than saying "You don't like what I like therefor you're stupid!" I just think you're taking the over-the-top violence and bad characters a bit too..."personally"? "Seriously"? Not sure what word I want to use there. My point is that when you look at the past GTA games ALL the characters have been despicable people, with the exception, perhaps, of Niko who - at least to my memory - was the only one who went to the city the game takes place in specifically because he just wanted to start over with a normal life but fate sucks him back into a nasty world of crime and violence.

For full disclosure, I'll admit that I haven't yet played GTA V yet so I haven't seen just how over-the-top the characters are. But I just have to wonder if Greg would have liked this game better were it still 2001 and he were still in his early 20's. Everything that I've heard in his review (and now this editorial) along with word-of-mouth from friends seems to imply that this is just par for the course in terms of a new GTA game. Same kinda stuff as all the other games, just amped up a notch as each new incarnation of the game has done before to differentiate itself from the previous titles.

Maiev Shadowsong:
Good god. You people.

Video games are art. Video games are serious. Video games aren't just for kids, guiz. What's this? A video game that isn't happy and perfect? Violence that's horrific? Something that makes me morally uncomfortable? But I just want video games! *sadface and crying*

I can't even take this editorial seriously.

"It's just a game" is EXACTLY the same argument that people were initially trying to use.

Fascinating how the exact same thing is being said to attack someone in two entirely opposite ways. That's generally the first sign that an argument has been simplified to the point of uselessness.

...And that's exactly what you did! You didn't even address the key aspect, "I want choice", that the entire editorial is based on, because it didn't fit your easy-to-attack simplification! There should be a word for that.

Extragorey:

Blood Brain Barrier:
It sounds perfectly true to the heritage of GTA, Greg. My memories of playing the first GTA at the age of 12 include getting missions over the phone to run over 20 pedestrians in under a minute, for absolutely no reason at all than getting paid for it.

So you believe that because GTA V is true to its roots, it's a respectable game?

I think the video game industry has come a long way since the days of GTA 1 and 2... And I certainly wouldn't want every game to take after the first entry in the franchise.

I don't like the series. Greg does though, and he argued that because GTA3 gave you a reason for your actions besides materialistic greed, it was superior. I was just pointing out how it's not so clear cut.

Aw dang it! Greg! And here with your GTA5 review I thought you had ascended into the ranks of the enlightened, and would become another The Avengers-like champion fighting against the existence of these murder simulators.

But no, it turns out you, quite rationally, just don't care for a game to cram their half-baked narrative down your throat and let game play or what the game player might want to do go hang. As once again we have yet another game where the story writers with their "up their own rectum" pretentiousness and wanna-be Hollywood script writing, manage to annoy the player even in the parts of the game where the narrative isn't. Or at least ruin the parts that are fun when the player gets dragged back into the soul crushing evil parts of the game's story where they are left without choice, except to soldier on or stop playing.

I'm so dissapointed in you right now. And you hear that? That's the sound of Piers Morgan crying when he reads this. I HOPE YOU CAN LIVE WITH YOURSELF!

Goliath100:
Won't be a GTA game without being flawed in a big way, wouldn't it? Personally I wish Rockstar had gone all the way with the Stock market concept.

Yea, from the videos I've seen there aren't any stock options you can buy (presumably because you could make in-game cash really fast that way, but still).

Characters being flawed is actually pretty good.
You didn't approve of how the characters acted and how they reacted to certain stimuli, as well as the fact that the player had almost no choice in the matter. I see why. But the whole point of Trevor is to show that he's a psychopath in the best possible way - which would be exactly the scenes you described.

I'm can't agree or disagree because I have not played the game yet. You do make some compelling arguments but one of them is hugely flawed.

Godfather, breaking bad, red dead redemption are good because family & revenge motivators? And everything else is inferior by default?
What about Scarface, Goodfellas & American psycho. How about buying into the world of Joel in TLOU?

GTA V wasn't painful for you because the characters are motivated by stuff you don't empathise with/appreciate/understand in the real world, it sounds like it's because the game could not make you empathise with them in the game world and their actions don't seem logical given the narrative set.

IronMit:

GTA V wasn't painful for you because the characters are motivated by stuff you don't empathise with/appreciate/understand in the real world...

I'm in my mid-40s, so I can empathize perfectly well with the mid-life crisis motivation.

But that doesn't mean I'm about to go out, put a gun to someone's head, and make them drive through the front window of an auto dealership just because it's cheaper than paying a therapist.

I'm having this problem with modern games, too. Everyone is jumping on the 'gritty realism' band wagon. I play games to have fun and escape from shitty real world events, not to relive them.

Greg Tito:
A piece of art can evoke all kinds of emotions. It doesn't have to be all happy-go-lucky all the time - as I mentioned I enjoy stories like Red Dead Redemption, The Godfather and Breaking Bad. But for a game that you could spend hundreds of hours playing, there needs to be variety

Games like Spec Ops work because they are shorter and have clear purpose. It wasn't the gameplay, it was how the gameplay worked in with the slick narrative. Most people comment that after the 15 hour game they had strong emotional reactions and in general just felt like crap for a decent time afterwards. Trying to create that feeling in a game people are expected to put hundreds of hours into is the worst idea I can think of. It's a game designed around criminal violence and it's fine for characterization and story to make them just plain bad people, but as a player I need some breathing room.

Matthi205:

Goliath100:
Won't be a GTA game without being flawed in a big way, wouldn't it? Personally I wish Rockstar had gone all the way with the Stock market concept.

Yea, from the videos I've seen there aren't any stock options you can buy (presumably because you could make in-game cash really fast that way, but still).

Characters being flawed is actually pretty good.
You didn't approve of how the characters acted and how they reacted to certain stimuli, as well as the fact that the player had almost no choice in the matter. I see why. But the whole point of Trevor is to show that he's a psychopath in the best possible way - which would be exactly the scenes you described.

(Full disclosure, I'm PC, there may be some factual mistake). Took me some time to find it, but there is 2 stock markets and a real estate market in game. Real estate market and one of the stack markets are basic gambeling, the other is effected by in-game events. This should explain it:
http://www.psu.com/a021018/Top-5-ways-to-make-money-on-the-GTA-V-stock-market

My point is that the game itself is flawed.

MinionJoe:

I'm in my mid-40s, so I can empathize perfectly well with the mid-life crisis motivation.

But that doesn't mean I'm about to go out, put a gun to someone's head, and make them drive through the front window of an auto dealership just because it's cheaper than paying a therapist.

I got crap in high school for wearing a trench coat. That doesn't mean I went and shot up the place.

See, just because whatshisname isn't exactly like you doesn't mean that his characterisation is wrong, just like the fact that I didn't shoot up schools doesn't mean Klebold and Harris didn't shoot up Columbine. It just means I'm not a psychopath.

It should be no secret that different people handle events differently. I'm not saying GTA V is realistic, but that element certainly does not make it unrealistic.

Zachary Amaranth:

See, just because whatshisname isn't exactly like you doesn't mean that his characterisation is wrong...

So you disagree with Greg's review and feel that the characters in GTA V are well-written, just off-stream?

I will say though that the dialogue of the gangster-voiced characters are spot on and pretty much identical to what I hear on my street every day.

"While you were in prison getting anal stretch marks, I was banging your sister and mugging your moms" is a particular favorite of mine.

MinionJoe:

IronMit:

GTA V wasn't painful for you because the characters are motivated by stuff you don't empathise with/appreciate/understand in the real world...

I'm in my mid-40s, so I can empathize perfectly well with the mid-life crisis motivation.

But that doesn't mean I'm about to go out, put a gun to someone's head, and make them drive through the front window of an auto dealership just because it's cheaper than paying a therapist.

I didn't mean emphasise with the plight of mid life crisis or revenge etc I meant emphasise with/understand every decision the protagonist makes.

I could say I'm a Cuban immigrant to America- that doesn't mean I'm going to start a criminal empire.(scarface)
Or I have cancer and am a chemistry teacher so I will definitely make Meth now.

What makes these stories so good is not the 'has cancer/revenge' angle but exactly how everything plays out. The character's have to behave in a logical way when presented with certain situations/plot devices. Walter white has a motive, opportunity and skills. He ends up desperate enough to go through with it and the viewer doesn't say to himself 'I don't think his character would do that'. They can identify with him even though they would not do those same stuff in real life.

The writer of this article seems to not be able to understand why the protagonists are doing what they are doing (in GTAV), so he says it's because revenge and family are better motivators. It's not, revenge or cancer motivators don't automatically make a better story then mid-life crisis. It's the How not the Why. If people are doing stuff that doesn't make sense to their character then the story is broken.

josemlopes:
and in GTA III it barely touches any sort of motivation for the main character other then money.

Maybe it's been a while since you played GTA3, but it was clearly a game about a criminal trying to find his girlfriend who betrayed him and shoots him, and left him to die/get caught by the cops after a bank heist. Mind you, there's not a whole lot of characterization for him after that since he's a silent protagonist, but they very clearly set up his motivation from the beginning and carry it straight through to the end where he kills her.

I mean, GTA has always been closer to South Park than any gangster movie. Hell, the scene with the fake Steve Jobs having his head exploded sounds like something out of South Park.

I have seen the first hour or two of story through a lets play and I was in love with it. The scene described doesn't really disturb me and the game will have to go to some great lengths to lose my interest. The review score is only notable because the author realized that a seven out of ten is actually more than enough to turn some heads on a game like this.

Also, I love all of the sudden love for past GTA stories all of a sudden. I guarantee you could find an article just like this that came out when a new GTA is published, and all of them will have made logical true points. The endstory is that those games sold like gangbusters and so will this one.

MinionJoe:

So you disagree with Greg's review and feel that the characters in GTA V are well-written, just off-stream?

Please don't go assuming that "because reasoning is flawed" translates to "I believe the polar opposite."

Vivi22:

josemlopes:
and in GTA III it barely touches any sort of motivation for the main character other then money.

Maybe it's been a while since you played GTA3, but it was clearly a game about a criminal trying to find his girlfriend who betrayed him and shoots him, and left him to die/get caught by the cops after a bank heist. Mind you, there's not a whole lot of characterization for him after that since he's a silent protagonist, but they very clearly set up his motivation from the beginning and carry it straight through to the end where he kills her.

I remember the betrayal at the beginning and then he just started to climb up the latter again doing jobs for whoever offered money, never really with the intention of revenge. Catalina does show up by coincidence at the mission where you have to steal some stuff out of a plane, she takes your stuff and later after that she kidnapps Maria.

Still, most of the game its just him doing it for the money, not for revenge. He would do all those things even if he didnt want revenge, the revenge was not the cause for the events of the game to take place but just something that served as the climax of the game to end it.

Zachary Amaranth:

MinionJoe:

So you disagree with Greg's review and feel that the characters in GTA V are well-written, just off-stream?

Please don't go assuming that "because reasoning is flawed" translates to "I believe the polar opposite."

I did no such thing. Which is why I asked you a question. Nice avoidance though. :)

Greg Tito:
"Trevor demands women be respected. Congratulations to Rockstar for creating a fully-realized character"

i sincerely hope this is sarcasm, demanding respect towards women is hardly a character trait in any normal case, but with trevor, where it is completely at odds with all the rest of his psycopathic tendencies, it seems pretty clear to me that this is nothing more than an idiosyncratic quirk

Good on you for standing up for yourself and expressing your own opinion on things. Well, I guess that's all I wanted to say.

Extragorey:

Blood Brain Barrier:
It sounds perfectly true to the heritage of GTA, Greg. My memories of playing the first GTA at the age of 12 include getting missions over the phone to run over 20 pedestrians in under a minute, for absolutely no reason at all than getting paid for it.

So you believe that because GTA V is true to its roots, it's a respectable game?

I think it's fair to point out that the random violent mission isn't new to the series given that the editorial seemed to be suggesting that it was a change. That has nothing to do with whether the game is "respectable" or not.

I agree that it's not a new turn for the games. Personally, I'm not shy about enjoying some fictional violence, but honestly the GTA series has always made me a little uncomfortable when I've played them (before anyone asks why I don't just avoid them: I don't buy the games myself, but I was given the first two as gifts and my brother-in-law is a fan of the series so I've seen him play the more recent ones).

Either way, I do think it's interesting to read about someone who has shifted from that fan space into the discomfort space and I appreciate that Tito decided to expand on his review.

Sgt. Sykes:
I read the spoiler part of the text now.

How the hell is that mission TERRORISM? Do you know what this word means, author? Terrorism is inducing fear in the general populace. In fact, terrorists generally not only have their reasons for doing what they do, they are also happy to tell the world about it

What is described here is plain assassination. I.e. an act meant to get someone killed, get rid of an uncomfortable person and that's it. The actual fact you're actually criticising, not knowing what's behind it, makes it anti-terrorism pretty much by default.

And now we're supposed to take your high moral criticism seriously?

So, if someone was to publicly assassinate a head of state while s/he was making an address, that wouldn't "induce fear in the general populace"? Fear is most quickly spread through the media. If it was only an assassination, why couldn't Michael kill not-Steve Jobs while infiltrating the office? Blowing a guy's head off without warning in front of millions of people on live television is not a simple assassination. It is a production calculated to deliver the maximum amount of bloody spectacle to the greatest amount of people possible. That's terrorism in any book.

Also, you should probably check what "anti-terrorism" means, because I don't think public executions generally factor into it.

lacktheknack:

Maiev Shadowsong:
Good god. You people.

Video games are art. Video games are serious. Video games aren't just for kids, guiz. What's this? A video game that isn't happy and perfect? Violence that's horrific? Something that makes me morally uncomfortable? But I just want video games! *sadface and crying*

I can't even take this editorial seriously.

"It's just a game" is EXACTLY the same argument that people were initially trying to use.

Fascinating how the exact same thing is being said to attack someone in two entirely opposite ways. That's generally the first sign that an argument has been simplified to the point of uselessness.

...And that's exactly what you did! You didn't even address the key aspect, "I want choice", that the entire editorial is based on, because it didn't fit your easy-to-attack simplification! There should be a word for that.

Um. I didn't say it was just a game. That's the opposite of my argument. Did you read at all?

Mutant1988:
I think the intent is to leave your moral values on the shelf and simply indulge yourself. The motivation for your characters action is simply "Because they wanted to" and "because they can", and perhaps your escapism in this case is simply adopting that mindset, for the narrative as much as for the gameplay.

Morals are something that should NEVER be put on a shelf.

If your entire sense of right vs. wrong can be tossed aside because it's inconvenient, or because it "gets in the way of fun", then where is your foundation?

As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster.

I do know where you're coming from here. It's a feeling I was experiencing for the first few hours of the game. It was fairly bleak, kinda saddening. I'm actually finding the game more and more life-affirming as it's progressing, as strange as that might sound. It's cynicism sorta validates my own, and puts it in perspective in a way that's kinda hard to explain. The characters might not be the most likable, but the overall tone, the trademark Rockstar satire... It quickly moved from uncomfortable to comforting, for me.

I think the beauty of having 3 protagonists is that none of them are definitively you. It becomes more like a fractured narrative film than RPG game. You're guiding the events but you're also a step removed, never quite identifying fully with any one avatar. It's jarring at first, but I reckon it probably expands the realms of potential storytelling fairly dramatically when you can have not-all-together likable leading players.

Parts have been fairly affecting. Personally, "no Russian" was a harder mental hit than anything GTA has thrown at me (and I've already played through the two sequences you focused on). No-Russian's first-person perspective, whilst handing you a massive gun... and removing the ability to simply shoot the people doing the bad thing, was harder to take. There was an in-shoes, visceral empathy for the tragedy of the scene and the impotence of the protagonist that just hit me harder than the narrative in GTA. GTA, to me, feels more like interacting with a dark comedy.

What am I saying? I fully understand, but my experience has been different. I am a little younger than you, Greg. My older brother seems to have gone off violent-media. Who knows, maybe I'll follow suit soon enough.

Wouldn't count on it though.

Frybird:
I cannot possibly imagine that GTA has nothing to "let them in on the joke"...they basically would have to cut out stuff shown in the trailers and TV Spots for this to be true.

Interesting. This is news to me. Would you mind sharing some examples?

Frybird:
I'd agree, but the problem for me is, both the Review and the Editorial fail to comment on that. It just scolds the game for giving the characters insufficient motivations (despite pointing out that they are driven by "malaise, greed and psychosis", wich usually is a sufficient motivation even in real life) and is sad about a darkly satirical game about crime and the shallowest of american lifestyles because these things are dark and sad.

The motivations make sense, but they still make for an unlikable character, and what the article and review argue is that the game lacks the proper context to render those motivations satisfying on some level - either by making the characters sympathetic despite these flaws or communicating to the audience that the characters are unlikable by design - thus leaving the audience by itself in its attempt to derive meaning from the events depicted in-game. Though I am in full agreement that the implication that "games should only ever be fun and never attempt to evoke a negative emotional response" is horribly misguided.

Frybird:
I don't know, many people fail to see the satirical elements of "Robocop" and "Starship Troopers", but i wouldn't dare to call one or both a "failed attempt" (even though there are worlds between the former and the latter).

Sorry if I didn't explain myself well: When I suggested GTA V was a failed attempt, it wasn't on the basis that not everyone would understand the game's satire (if literally everyone was required to recognize satire for it to be successful, there would be no successful satire in existence), but that the game contains nothing to clue in the audience to the fact that they're supposed to hate the main characters. Starship Troopers, for example, contains several things you can point to besides the unlikability of the characters that inform the audience of its satirical nature, such as the fifties-style propaganda ads prettying up all the horrors of war and the fact that one can only become a citizen by serving in the military. In a game that bills itself as a crime simulator, I wouldn't classify making the main characters despicable criminals as a sufficiently clear message to the audience by itself. The social satire concerning the vapidity of modern Western lifestyles is self-evident, of course, but unlike Starship Troopers, where the protagonists are aligned with the obviously-fascist government, the criminals of Grand Theft Auto V are depicted as turning to crime to escape their social circumstances, thereby painting their horrible actions as innately justified or even heroic unless the game tells the audience "You should hate these people" in other ways.

Of course, not yet having played GTA V, I can't say for certain whether this is the case; perhaps the game is indeed full of these hints, and they all simply escaped Greg's notice, in which case I'm still more eager to hear some examples from the advertisements.

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