“You can steal cars, you can pick up prostitutes, you can get drunk and drive around, kill police officers, stuff you wouldn’t think about doing in real life.”
Hey, neat! That was the sound bite from a nice, clean-cut young man that caught my ear in our story on the release of the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV” (the Roman numeral is a nice touch).
I suppose it would be incredibly easy for an old fart like me to check in with a post expressing utter revulsion at the thought of doing all that stuff the young man referred to (but not in “real life.”)
But before taking the easy way out, I googled the game, and came across reviews like this. WOW! If The New York Times called it “a violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun”…who am I to argue?
I never would have seen it as “cultural satire,” but then again, I’ve never been the brightest penny in the jar. Cultural satire. How very sly.
I’m also not quick to condemn, based on some of the “games” we played in our neighborhood growing up. Such as “Let’s Tear Down the New House They’re Building On Our Makeshift Baseball Diamond.” That was a good one that brought the local constables out. Nobody saw nuthin.’
“Let’s Explore the Framingham Sewer System.” Kind of an underground nature walk.
“Let’s See If We Can Start the Equipment at the Construction Site.” Bob the Builder? Puh-leeze.
“Let’s Tie Baby Brother To A Tree.” One less for supper.
And then, there was a one-timer called “Rock Fight.” Good fun, all the way to the emergency room for stitches in the back of the head. Really, my parents were so very proud. But I don’t remember them referring to it as “cultural satire.” (I guess I was lucky to remember anything.)
And we were “good” kids!!!
Maybe none of that ever would have happened if we had games worthy of review in the New York Times.
Maybe that never would have happened if the mantra of every single mother in a neighborhood overrun by children wasn’t: “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, AND DON’T COME BACK ‘TIL DINNER’S READY!!!”
But it happened. No harm, no foul? No, there was a good dollop of both.
At least these video games are make believe. As long as they stay that way. But then again, everyone who plays them knows it’s cultural satire.