Submitted by thatsthespirit 751d ago | opinion piece

GTA Continues Videogames' Over-Reliance on Satire

Ed Smith of IBTimes UK writes:

"Grand Theft Auto's brand of satire has become incredibly tiresome. Dan Houser, Rupert Humphries and James Worrall, the writers behind GTA, always reach for the low-hanging fruit, taking a simplified, teenage - but by all means, sellable - angle on American culture.

"The politicians in GTA are always corrupt: the newspapers are always biased; conspicuous consumption is all the American public cares about and law enforcement, from the federal level down, is intrinsically racist. Grand Theft Auto games share the same opinions of first-year uni students, or people who have read too much Michael Moore." (Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto V, PS3, Xbox 360)

Dr Pepper  +   752d ago
"When future generations want insight into America, they'll get it from television, films and books. There'll be no reason for them to play Grand Theft Auto."

Exactly what television shows, films, and books are these future generations going to be viewing? I'm sure shows like The Office will provide great insight into a standard US business. That is one of hundreds of examples of TV shows, films and even books that exaggerate life. Unless they just plan on watching a strict documentary, there are going to be many alterations that highly distort what life was/is really like.

"They prefer to sneer rather than really engage, to believe in nothing rather than something. Whereas that was OK ten years ago, when games and the people that played them had little to no political sensibility, today it feels childish, narrow, ignorant."

What data is this person using to show the political sensibility of gamers in 2003? Rather "childish" and "narrow" minded to just throw out assumptions like that.

"If a AAA game sets out to tackle something serious, it does it with hyperbole, fantasy and jokes."

Again with the broad sweeping brush. Doesn't even use "and/or" to cover his ass, just "and". Yep, if it's a AAA game, it's going to always use jokes when tackling serious issues. Hmmm, what else uses fantasy and exaggerations to comment on real world issues...couldn't be famous tv shows like Star Trek, or films like District 9. Social commentary is often made, in multiple mediums, through such "fantasy".

"But it's becoming increasingly difficult to justify games to a wider audience. For all the spectacle and splendour of Grand Theft Auto, it has nothing to teach us"

Why does it HAVE to teach us something? Many people love the series for its sandbox gameplay, so you can do things you would never want to do, or be able to do, in real life. I, personally, don't need to get a serious, deep philosophical lesson from a game named "Grand Theft Auto". Was the author supremely frustrated after he saw the first Hangover movie and didn't get a serious lesson beyond "don't trust this guy with your drinks"?
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thatsthespirit  +   752d ago
First question: The Wire, The Hurt Locker and Fight Club (the book) - they provide an entertaining but factual or informative window on things.

Second question: Games and game criticism in 2003 were not so interested in politics, gender issues, so on as they are now, I don't think. No data, but this is a blog and I remember what I read/played from that time.

Third question: Nothing wrong with social commentary being made through fantasy, but games do nothing except that. I say this in the article. There are no non-fiction games. Would be interesting/valuable to see something, perhaps GTA, try to represent something real as wholeheartedly as possible and to then comment on it. And by that I don't mean getting the specifications of real assault rifles absolutely spot on, or putting Da Vincin in Assassin's Creed.

Last question: Not EVERY game has to teach us something, but Grand Theft Auto purports to be, and is often thought as, social commentary - people are confused into thinking it does have something to teach. I don't think it does. And I think that, if it's going to claim to, it needs to back it up with more than just dick jokes and swearing. I don't care what people love it for. The history of art is not just a story of painters, writers, directors etc pandering to what people love. If it was, art would be very bland and we'd all be much stupider.
Dr Pepper  +   751d ago
"First question: The Wire, The Hurt Locker and Fight Club (the book) - they provide an entertaining but factual or informative window on things."

You listed 3 items. For every three you list (even when the ones you list aren't strict factual representations of reality), I can list dozens more that don't provide accurate "insight into America". Even "reality" television. I wont, due to not wanting to fill up this ENTIRE thread with it, but most pieces of entertainment, regardless of medium, distort how real life truly works.

"No data, but this is a blog and I remember what I read/played from that time."

Just because it's a blog doesn't mean you shouldn't back up a specific statement with, well, specifics. You just claimed that people who played games 10 years ago had no political sensibilities. Forget whether games had them, how can you simply make that sweeping statement about gamers?

"Nothing wrong with social commentary being made through fantasy, but games do nothing except that. I say this in the article. There are no non-fiction games"

Look, if something is nonfiction, in the true sense of the word, then it is fact. The article even mentioned the pitfalls of a true to life NYC recreation (a nonfiction version, if you will). If there was an actual nonfiction video game, in this sense, then player interaction/options with it would be incredibly low. Why does this medium have to offer the exact same things as film, television and/or books?

"I don't think it does. And I think that, if it's going to claim to, it needs to back it up with more than just dick jokes and swearing"

I'm not sure where Rockstar is claiming to teach these lessons. Some other people might see it that way, but that doesn't determine Rocktar's intent.
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ifritAlkhemyst  +   751d ago
Damn. I was going to attack you for using the word stupider. Then I decided it would be awfully stupid of me to do so, since the dictionary gets updated now and then. Lo and behold, it is now recognized as an adjective.
PS3Freak  +   751d ago
The dictionary cannot be trusted.
HammadTheBeast  +   751d ago
For all its satire, GTA portrays a clearer image of America than most think.

Also, The Last of Us alone $*** on many other movies, TV shows, etc .
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ifritAlkhemyst  +   751d ago
What's wrong with this? And why is it so important for videogames to be so freaking deep and meaningful anymore? They're at least smarter than most Hollywood blockbusters but I'm not going to sit through a game that has mistaken itself as the next Brothers Karamazov. I don't play games for that crap, I read books for that crap.

I'm sick of people seeking some sort of legitimacy for their hobby. Over 50% of American's drink beer for fun. Where's the deepness and maturity in that? Gosh, get over yourselves.
StanSmith  +   751d ago
You hit the nail on the head.

I'm so sick of this attitude that all games must have a serious tone in their plots. In my opinion, it's what's destroying gaming.

Don't get me wrong, I like games that take themselves seriously, but it's only when they're on the level of The Last of Us. That took a serious story and injected humour throughout with Ellie. It stopped it from being depressing.

Seriously, thank goodness for games like GTA, Saints Row, Mario, Uncharted and The Last of Us. Without them, I'd have quit my hobby long ago.
thatsthespirit  +   751d ago
Dynasty  +   751d ago
The GTA series is known for it's satire though..
Wni0  +   751d ago
Pretty good point. But gta as repetitive as it gets is pretty damn fun when you just mess around.
SpitFireAce85  +   751d ago
Gta games are fun to play thats all i care about.
WeAreLegion  +   751d ago
I don't even do this in real life, but...

Related image(s)
Blacklash93  +   751d ago
I think GTA is pretty poor satire, anyway. People call it "tongue in cheek" but as far as I'm concerned that's just a phrase dancing around the fact that it lacks any cleverness. It's completely reliant on shallow caricatures and blatant messages that could as well preach it on a soapbox and retain the same amount of subtlety.
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