Welcome to the Unreasonable Stance, where our own John Biggs takes the minority opinion on a tech matter and defends it with convenient data, spun numbers, fanboyism, and insults until he proves, without a doubt, that those that disagree with him are filthy mouth-breathers.
Like all men of a certain age, I love violence, drugs, and fast cars. But I definitely don’t love Grand Theft Auto IV. Want to know why? Because I’ve become fairly well-versed in the violence and depravity the game promises to simulate — a set of skills I learned, actually, from playing Vice City and the other episodes in this vaunted series — and, in looking at the game, now, from a dispassionate and uninhibited standpoint, I find that it fails on a number of basic levels. The student has, it seems, surpassed the teacher and I worry that others will soon find themselves in the same situation.
First, the carjackings are too easy. In real life, carjacking is a difficult proposition at best. It is a careful dance, choreographed in a haze of Olde English and pot, and must be blocked like a Elizabethan drama. You, the driver, sit quietly at a stop-light. My posse rolls up and whips out a gun, encouraging you you to leave the car. One of my crew comes around to your car and drives off, the light still red. I threaten you with death or sexual violation if you tell the police. And we’re off, playing a jaunty tune on the radio. The chop shop is usually down the way and we can pull in, tear down your car, and prep for another bout in a few hours. It’s hard work and this game makes it looks easy: move to car, open door, convince mark to leave car, and drive away. That is, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, dangerous.
Because games lead directly to sexual perversion, I’ve also become well-versed in the art of prostitute wrangling. I have a stable of “ladies,” including Paulo who came from the Dominican Republic and is one of my best “Something different” customer service representatives. While I hoped that GTA IV would expand on the world’s second oldest profession, this game again falls flat. In fact, in the early parts of the game you are encouraged to form a natural loving relationship with a woman. Why? Why bring emotion and feeling into a game that is basically a training system for young pimps?
Finally, I feel that the drug abuse encouraged by the game is the wrong sort. Crack? Cocaine? Who still moves those pharmaceuticals? Meth is the drug of choice these days and there is hardy any mention of this well-known intoxicant in the game. While God will punish the programmers for this oversight, I feel that players must understand that moving snowflakes by the O-Z is no longer as lucrative as it once was. What about human growth hormone? What about snuff film supplies? What about surface-to-air missile sales to unfriendly nations? They rarely, if ever, address this in the games and I find this a horrible oversight.
Video games lead to violence and I’m better for it. But the GTA team hasn’t kept up its end of the bargain. As a professional criminal, I worry that future generations will not be able to use the GTA series to educate and inspire future deviants. The magic of the series used to be its realism and charm. Sadly, however, that charm has lapsed and I encourage violent and mad-eyed youth to turn to comic books and movies for their violent educations and, sadly, to avoid GTA IV.