Friday, August 8, 2008

Grand Theft Auto 4: The Dynamic

I didn't realize how anarchic Grand Theft Auto 4 was. This especially came out as I read a blog post @ Versus Clu Clu Land, where a law student expressed her professional view of the game and listed the amount of laws your character breaks as the story of the game progresses. Playing it the other day, the viewpoint of completely disrupting social order for money had dawned on me as my missions ranged from stealing trucks filled with cocaine to robbing federal banks and killing SWAT Team members by the waves. I never really looked at GTA 4 in that context. It was just a game to me.

I've even taken jobs from an anonymous caller to assassinate targets ranging from groups of men in a construction site to some VIP whose about to take off in a helicopter from a pad on top of a highway. For the latter, I just walked up to the copter, carrying a rocket launcher in plain, clear view, and blew it up. I mean, the helipad is directly above the highway, not any miles away or anything. Here's the reason I point that out.

Niko Bellic (the main character) supports himself in New York City Liberty City by agreeing to be paid for the most reprehensible and immoral acts. In doing so, he meets a colorful range of characters who are just as immoral as he is. I mean, even the Liberty City Police Dept. and CIA catch him, only to pay him for his terrible services like everyone else. So where is the order in this game, really? Only on the programmed surface.

Niko causes this chaos and, while in real life his crimes would be deep gashes in the social fabric, in the game they're more like superficial cuts on the fabric's knee. After blowing up said helicopter and killing about 3 innocent people nearby, the police may show up and arrest if they're nearby and (remember, if), but the whole thing is either forgotten about through a couple of hours in jail and a bribe, or as soon as the mission ends, the police suffer the instant amnesia that the Men In Black used to administer when the public knew of their Roswell activity. The innocent people who've died in the blast literally disappear, and all the other citizens go back to walking up and down the sidewalks and attending their business like they're programmed to.

Of course, the reason why this can't be reality, or game developers can never imitate reality, is that they cannot take the spontaneous and random aspects of life and program it into made up people. When something like that happens to us, simultaneously law and society try to make sense of what happened, repair it, and in the process, dynamics take place and open up new pathways.

So after the helicopter is blown up:
A detective who has a son with Down Syndrome investigates the crime scene and debris, while some greedy, annoying journalist listens to his note taking and, moronically and selfishly, releases key leads to the public, which helps Niko escape.

The little girl who was sitting on the bench in an upscale park just yards from the explosion is hit with a speeding piece of helicopter door in her lung and now needs a blood transfusion. This has to be paid for by the family that made just enough money to supply her with a wheat and tuna sandwich every night........

........but her older brother takes this experience and finds a new religion that worships antique chandeliers made by a 16th century Sicilian genius hermit who lived in a hole under a stone bridge and believed that after Christ died, he was reincarnated in the form of the hermit's own right eyeball.

The highway underneath the helicopter pad closes and Bob finds a new way to drive to and from work, where he chance-meets a stripper who is also a Russian spy and finds through her wisdom that his real self is a Marxist transvestite.

The conspiracy theorists who read about the explosion in the newspaper believe the man in the helicopter was selling FreeMason secrets to the public, and he was the first target. The second is his publishers handling the non-fiction book.

A man in his shoddy one-bedroom apartment in the projects, who is an ex-glue sniffing necrophiliac, watches the explosion in slow-motion on T.V. and suddenly has the idea for a new American three-course dish involving Indian spices and mercury. In 7 years time, he single-handedly stops world hunger and rids any and all attention to 50 Cent.

The Black Agenda-ists who question the cops, find out the man in the helicopter was black, and question why the law and government does not enforce Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideal, and so react with incendiary Malcolm X policy.

And finally, poor, poor Steve, the Christian electronica D.J. who was on his way to aunt's house to pick up some old records, sits at home watching the news report and realizes that he's seen Niko, with his very own eyes, walk towards the heli-pad with a rocket launcher in his arm (though at the time he didn't know what it was). Filled with guilt at the fact that he could've saved a life, he sleepwalkingly drifts to some hole under a stone bridge, produces a knife and takes out his own right........
Got carried away. Sorry. But you get the point.


  1. I've been called a wordsmith and such but you are straight up creative. Straight up!

  2. Don't Feed The PixiesAugust 11, 2008 at 3:38 AM

    This is the problem with films and games - that we never see the consequences of the actions. When Bruce Willis shoots the bad guy through his arm in Die Hard 4.0 he should lose his arm and shoulder, but he walks away barely scathed. I love the way you follow the consequences to the extreme here - excellent writing

  3. not carried away ...
    imaginative ...

    dynamics of life, indeed!

  4. Awesome awesome post!!! This also applies to television...well written bro well written!


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