After reading the Levine article for class on Monday I checked in on one of my favorite gaming websites to browse any new developments. With Grand Theft Auto V on the horizon, IGN has been posting new articles previewing the game over the past week. The latest article delves into GTA’s history and its progression through the 90’s and into the 2000’s. It details how GTA has gone from pure escapist fantasy all the way to a clever satirization of modern America. I couldn’t help but relate back to the Levine piece that I had just read. It seems to me that, within both popular as well as gamer culture, GTA has gone from being wholly reviled to being the peak of storytelling in games.
Don’t get me wrong, its still seen by many as being an overly violent murder simulator. However, to many within the gaming community, GTA 4 changed that perception. Instead of a two dimensional, cardboard cutout of a protagonist, we were given Niko Bellic. Here was a foreigner who had just made his way to America, the land of opportunity. But instead of a simple rags to riches story, Niko finds he is valued for his killing prowess and is subsequently engulfed in the world of crime within Liberty City (New York). What followed was a 40 plus hour experience that saw Niko losing more and more of himself in a blood soaked realization of the American dream. Much akin to Brian De Palma’s Scarface, the fourth installment in the Grand Theft Auto franchise was a monumental success in terms of storytelling within an industry that was sorely lacking such experiences.
So I suppose what I’m really trying to ask is, can GTA transcend the cultural perception that it had made for itself? What if in 20 year Grand Theft Auto 13 is the most hotly anticipated critical release of the year? If I read Levine’s article correctly, which is entirely in question; what I understood was that media in time can become less or more significant so as to raise it into the public conscience as being high culture. Who knows, maybe some day video games will be considered high culture.