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Submitted by OgTheClever 2783d ago | interview

Pulitzer Prize-winning author says GTAIV not in same league as movies, books writes: "It's a shame, we were just getting ready to rant at another ignorant old man who's never picked up a game in his life, but we thought we'd better read his article first and it turns out he actually knows what he's talking about. I know, we were as shocked as you!

Junot Díaz won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his debut novel, and writes for the Wall Street Journal. He also happens to be a pretty avid gamer from the sounds of it, and has put in more than his fair share of time stealing cars and robbing the citizens of Liberty City.

Rather than spewing out the tired old 'games arent art' line that so many supposedly intelligent critics seem to spout, Díaz specifically states that he has no doubt that GTAIV is art, but that he doesn't feel that it yet equals what films and TV shows such as The Sopranos and The Godfather have managed." (Culture, Grand Theft Auto IV, PS3, Xbox 360)

Alternative Sources
Condoleezza Rice  +   2783d ago
I've met Junot Diaz,VERY down to Earth guy.

As for GTA IV not being in the same league as some movies and or books;I think we can all agree here,GTA IV's story was DEFINITELY overrated.
Jack Meahoffer  +   2783d ago
Actually we can't all agree on that...
This Junot Díaz guy might be a gamer but he obviously doesn't understand the difference between a passive mediums like movies and TV and interactive mediums like video games. If 100% of the product is dialog and story its a bit easier to tell a deep story than a video game where you should be playing more than watching. There was a lot of nuance in GTA IV. Unspoken things that you'd need to observant to see and understand.

The people hating on GTA IV let the hype distort thier expectations. Real GTA fans like myself loved the game. The only people hating are the people sitting on forums all day like Condie. They play games 1/10th of the time they spend trolling on forums. Just looking for the next bandwagon to jump on. Bunch of fair weather fans.

Vast majority of people that bought GTA IV thought it was well worth the money.

Success brings haters. Its happens to every megaton successful property whether its TV, books, games or movies.

#1.1 (Edited 2783d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(4) | Report | Reply
Rute  +   2782d ago
About storytelling in games
To Jack Meahoffer: Junot Díaz clearly understands the potential of interactive entertainment. He's saying that there aren't games that "re-organize our preconceptions" and "shift us into a world that’s always been there but that we’ve been afraid to acknowledge" yet, but he also says that these kind of games are possible.

By making a clear distinction between playing and storytelling, you fail to realise that the gameplay interactions in interactive entertainment can be as profound and poignant as the interactions in passive entertainment. It's important to understand that in both of these mediums, the authors decide what choices the main character makes and the consequences that result from these choices.

Díaz: "Niko, as a character, doesn't surprise, and the choices he confronts don't make me want to put the game on pause in order to mull things over; they don't implicate me or reveal me in any way."

Díaz also criticizes GTA IV for its unconvincing immigration scenario. He should know something about immigration, since he's an immigrant himself.

Jack, you also said that movies are 100% dialog. Well, you're wrong. In fact, there are lots of action packed movies that have even won the Academy Award for best motion picture. I suggest you watch Gladiator to see how well action can be used as a tool for storytelling.
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truncheon  +   2782d ago
"the gameplay interactions in interactive entertainment can be as profound and poignant as the interactions in passive entertainment."

I was actually pretty disappointed by the scope of interactions in GTA IV. Look at how many options you have for interacting with the world when you're out and about in the city. Carjack. Push/punch. Jump. Climb up on. Shoot. Drive. Pretty tough to build a "profound and poignant" connection to a world I can only influence through violence and destruction. Yes, I know there were "relationships" to develop but those interactions were totally passive (drive somewhere, push the occasional button) and frankly boring as hell. As were the pointless binary choices (kill chump A or don't who cares).

Games are getting better, for sure. But when some aspects are overly realized, it just calls attention to how underdeveloped other aspects are.
Rute  +   2782d ago
I meant this:
It's important to understand that in both of these mediums, the authors decide what choices the main character confronts and the consequences that result from making the choices.


In other words, in passive entertainment the author decides what choices the main character faces, what choices he makes and what the consequences are. Although in interactive entertainment the player makes the decisions, the author is the one who's ultimately responsible for the situation, alternatives, and consequences.
Isaac  +   2783d ago
Has Junot played MGS4?
That is what he has to play, not overrated theft auto 4.
sinncross  +   2783d ago
lol darkzero, what a bunch of losers.

GTA4's story is no where near the top tier league of movies and films in regards to story.

what a joke...
Closing  +   2783d ago
OK, now try picking a game with a good story to compare. Like the MGS series for example.
#4 (Edited 2783d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(2) | Report | Reply
socomnick  +   2783d ago
....... You cant be serious. The MGS story is great for fans but to everyone else its pretty stupid.
Closing  +   2783d ago
You really have no clue what you're talking about at all. It's an extremely in-depth look at life from political , to religious, to sociological issues. If you had played the game or understood what they were trying to say then you'd clearly see that. To simplify it in laymen's terms for you it's a story about how the people get trapped in their ways, and are almost unable to break away from their own systems, their own chains, which can effect the whole world around them. Kinda like how you're an idiot who shows no signs of progress, which is hurting my head.
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meepmoopmeep  +   2782d ago
MGS is one of the greatest, in-depth, deep stories in gaming history. it dives into social, government, military, historical and scientific aspects of both real life and fiction. you actually need to have a really intellectual brain to comprehend all of the story, the medical, military and scientific terms and the questions and mysteries of the story.

stupid is not being able to comprehend it.
ar  +   2782d ago
MGS4 has a great story. The problem is that it's buried deep beneath layers and layers of references to the old games, thus making it hard for newcomers to the genre to pick it up.
Bishop  +   2783d ago
I believe
That books and games are superior to movies in their entertainment value. With movies you are watching someone else live in a world of wonders. With books you can live in that same world yourself as you read and with games you get to experience the world through a controller, keyboard-- whatever. Certainly some games have their problems but so do all other forms of entertainment. Nothing is ever perfect.
propheta  +   2782d ago
A very complex issue
I think the article is very well written and it does touch some of the issues where GTA, and the majority of games to be honest, still shows that videogame production has a long way in order to achieve the same emotional levels we see in movies or read in books.

Most reviewers were too hasty in establishing comparisons between the emotional content of GTA IV's somewhat mediocre story (which stands for above average in the videogame realm) and the quality which movie narratives (a much more refined art in this sense) like The Godfather have achieved. This revealed the immaturity of videogame reviewers and supposed 'experts'.

On the paper it may look similar, as a script, but the execution differs quite a lot: while cinema borrows the talent from actors (in Godfather, Pacino and Brando among many other thespian "gods" of those days) which channel their human emotion into each scene, in GTA there is a virtual acting process which is still far from the thousand nuances real actors can provide. What can be reproduced, however, is the mise-en-scéne, the photography and many other elements which compose the wonderful cinematic scenes. But I ask you what would movie myths such as The Godfather or Goodfellas be without the Joe Pescis and DeNiros, the improvisations and the human component? With less capable actors they would be missing a great deal and end up being lesser movies, even with the brilliant editing and direction.

However, I don't think Junot knows enough about videogames so that we may consider his opinion beyond a mere trifle. I'm sure he knows a great deal about literature and that he is being very brave when he admits he enjoys videogames - which is sort of a toxic subject among intellectuals - even if he has won a pulitzer prize and is a renowned writer. But this shouldn't be interpreted as a definite opinion, or even an educated one on that level, since he seems to ignore many other videogames throughout his article which refute some of his claims.

I'm sure videogames may attain other qualities as they progress, specially emotional qualities which even gamers miss when they play. But there are on the other hand many unique artistic triumphs achieved in videogames which render literature and cinema to a lower level of artistic expression - the interactive contents, the real-time audiovisual splendor, the branched narratives, etc. In a time when videogames need approval from scholars and people who ignore the medium, maybe it is time to start underlining these unique qualities.

But if the videogames reflect the market and the public, part of the responsibility for the videogame's lack of progression in certain fields belongs to the public who opts for the lesser products instead of investing on original and innovative games. GTA is that pleasurable exception that combines the ultra-violence and the free-roaming system that most videogamers look for with the wit, irony and somewhat elaborate contents which only a few are qualified to understand.
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Rute  +   2782d ago
Well said
+bubble for you

You're right about the reviewers being too hasty when comparing the emotional content of GTA IV and movie masterpieces like The Godfather. However, I don't think that the virtual acting in games has to be anywhere near the level seen in some movies in order for the game to offer an intellectual experience comparable to that of other mediums.

The storytelling in games, on the other hand, of which I already wrote a message to this news, is an area that is in a serious need of a revolution, a revolution that will show just how profound and complex themes an interactive decision-making medium is able to offer. Steven Spielberg might just be the pioneer that raises the bar with his new PS3/X360 project.
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LastDance  +   2782d ago
Rute - Yea...its called Metal gear solid 4 ;)
Rute  +   2782d ago
Metal Gear Solid 4...
I am interested in the themes and plot of MGS4, but from what I have heard and read, the complexity of the plot isn't reflected on the decisions the player has to make in the game. I might be wrong though, because I haven't played the game.
Luca Blight  +   2782d ago
In terms of narrative, script and voice acting...
GTA4 is subpar even in the world of videogames! Granted, I really liked the game itself for other reasons such as the revamped gameplay system, but come on... the script seems like it was written by a 6th grader and the voice acting performed by his most immature classmates (with instructions to sound as stereotypical as possible).

I want to shoot myself everytime I hear Manny rep "the Streets" or some Italian gangbanger speak in 90% profanity. Really, GTA4 is in a class of its own when it comes to these particular aspects of the game...and I do not mean that in a good way!

The game is still good fun though. Love the bank robbery mission!
nycredude  +   2782d ago
What emotion?
I must have missed something here because I fail to see how there was a good story in GTA4. It was the same stuff as the other games only prettier but the game gets stale very fast with it's repetitive cut scenes and mission. How was it art? Maybe art in terms of tech, but even that it was most physics!

Most cut scenes was Niko standing around laid back while someone went on and on about something and then asking Niko to take care of it, after which Niko says ok and turns and either walks away or sprints/skip away!

I was 50% in when I started playing MGS4 and have since beaten MGS4, and guess what I still haven't gone back to GTA4. It's like going back to a cheeseburger after you had a juicy steak!

It still pains me to see the metacritic score for GTA4... 98 ugh!

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