So I don’t really know how to approach this post, which came out of a conversation us three were having the other day.
Do I write it, pretentiously, pretending it’s for an audience that doesn’t exist? Because I want to record it; it has a place on this blog. But since we’re the only ones that know about it even, and we’re not really going to read it, what’s the point?
So, whatevering that, Ben’s brother Tom was also there.
We were talking about games, violence and freedom in games and so on. Alun was talking about the prostitute killing in GTA4, how it caused so much controversy but was included in the game to represent real world actions.
Aside from the mentioning of other real world activities that are very absent, though far more common, from GTA4 (starting a garage band or book club, for example) we were talking about how completely unimportant the prostitute killing is to the game, in terms of its backbone.
I mean I kill a lot of people on GTA4. No one is safe, be they policeman or prostitute. I would probably try to kill the pope even, if he was in the game. In fact I’d probably spend a lot of time trying to do it. Not because I hate the pope, just because the experience was available to me. Likewise I don't generally want to kill prostitutes, but obviously I tried it on GTA4 because I could.
GTA4 is about freedom. If you go exploring you end up killing prostitutes.
I started thinking about the Path (http://tale-of-tales.com/ThePath/) a game recently released by Tale of Tales.
The idea at the base of The Path is exploration, to stray from the path, exercising your freedom, and how this ultimately leads to your characters destruction. You can just follow the path and finish the game, but you will have failed the game.
A guy called Kieron Gillen, in his review for Eurogamer, mentioned this interesting feature the game has.
“…to interact with anything in the game, you release the controls, and then the girl will wander over and have a nose at whatever's nearby. To interact, you stop interacting.” (http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/the-path-review)
I like this idea that the game kind of guides you as you kind of guide it.
Can you imagine if GTA4 had the same dynamic?
GTA, the original, did have a bunch of missions you could complete but what it was really about was constantly destroying as much as you could to relieve stress.
GTA4, at its heart, is the same.
So imagine: you release the controls and Niko Bellic goes instantly insane brutally kicking someone to death before stealing a car and running down everyone he can until the thing breaks. Then getting out, grabbing a nearby gun and shooting the shit out of everything nearby whilst making his way to another vehicle, which he in turn uses to slaughter another hundred people before upgrading to an armored SWAT van, leaving a trail of grenades, UZI fire and (presumably) orphans. And all the while you’re just watching until you press the A button and bring his kill frenzy to an end, guiding him on a more sedate path, forcing him to blend in, to go to parties, play pool and not wipe out all life in Liberty City.
In my mind he’d be a lot better at the murder than I am; making full use of cover, making faster turns in cars and almost never missing a shot. The game, then, would be guiding him. All the while suppressing his rampage until you reached the mission destination when you’d let him out of his metaphorical cage to kill everything in sight. Then you force him to go bowling with his girlfriend and try to stop him dismembering her with a Vespa.