“The Family” Business

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It’s only business. That’s what they say. But is it ever only business? How can it not be personal?

Someone steals your property, moves in on your territory or rubs out a member of your family – how do you not take that personally? Only Jedis, Vulcans and mobsters can look someone in the eye and say “I know you tried to hurt me, and now I’m going to hurt you, but it’s only business.”

Strange business. But it’s a business we love to love. Just as pirates were romanticized shortly after their reign of terror ended in the 18th century, so too have mobsters, the great criminal heroes of the 20th, been venerated in books, movies, television and now games.

We love them in the same way nice girls like bad boys: They’re dangerous, forbidden and fun. You may never hold up a liquor store, put out a hit or cook pasta for a hundred guys after you’ve “gone to the mattresses,” but it’s fun to imagine that some day you might, and that when you do, you’ll have the steely-eyed chutzpah to look your enemy in the eye as you slip a garrote around his throat and whisper “It’s only business,” then look your woman in the face and say to her: “Don’t ask me about my business, Kay.”

Mobsters live life by their own rules, sacrificing everything to get to the top of the heap. Even feelings. Just remember, you may love them, but they don’t love you. Don’t take it personally. It’s only business.

In this week’s issue of The Escapist, Issue 228, “The Family Business,” we’re looking at the sublime influence of the mafia on gaming. Brendan Main explains why Grand Theft Auto IV may be the best mobster game ever made; Pat Miller looks at the world of mafia gaming through the lens of Yakuza; Shawn Williams examines the difference between the real mobsters and the ones you play as on your console and Allen Varney returns to blow the whistle on the mafia-themed gang that’s moving in on everyone’s territory: Mafia Wars. Enjoy. And be sure to leave the gun, but take the canoli.

Russ Pitts

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