Why Grand Theft Auto V is the new Great Expectations: Nick Gillespie in Time

I've got a new column up at Time.com. Here's the start of it:

If there were any lingering questions as to whether video games are the defining popular art form of the 21st century, this week’s release of Grand Theft Auto V should put them all to rest. The massive sales, growing popularity and – most of all – generally uninformed attacks on video games as morally suspect perfectly parallel the rise to cultural dominance of once-derided forms of creative expression such as movies and the novel....

Let's cut to the "generally uninformed attacks on video games":

Ed Schultz...denounced Grand Theft Auto V on his MSNBC show by declaring, “If you’re a parent and you allow your son or daughter to watch this [sic] – even if they’re beyond 18-years-old, you’re a lousy parent.” Schultz compounds his error of referring to the game as if it was a movie by then calling it “the latest Xbox 360,” confusing a console with a particular title.

Ironically – and tellingly – people such as Schultz are repeating the same sorts of criticisms that dog all forms of popular culture in their early stages of developments. As novels became increasingly available to non-aristocratic readers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they were frequently criticized for impairing the morals of their then-mostly female readers by allowing them to imagine themselves in new and exciting worlds. Movies, comic books, and rock and roll – which like novels are often drenched in sex and violence – came in for exactly the same opprobrium. What good can come of allowing large numbers of people to imagine themselves transgressing conventional morality and playing different social roles for themelves, critics have asked for centuries.

Read the whole thing for why I think video games ranging from GTAV to Call of Duty to Minecraft "are the perfect medium for a digital, networked, globalized age in which previously unimaginable social and technological developments have opened up human possibilities that are intoxicatingly invigorating and terrifyingly anxiety-inducing."  

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  • some guy||

    I can't wait to see what the Ed Schultz's of the world say when we perfect virtual reality for all senses.

  • Drake||

    You want to smell his reaction?

  • Hugh Akston||

    The best-selling holodeck program of all time is the one where Wesley Crusher dies over and over and over again.

  • ||

    I thought it was this, Hugh.

  • Loki||

    FTL:

    For other works by Kitty Glitter, see My Red Self ("a smear of vaginal blood comes to the aid of a bullied teenage girl") and Springer Syndrome, which may or may not have been illustrated by a 3-year-old. Here's a sample review of that:

    Great short story about a messed up dog
    This story was pretty sick. I was not expecting it to have so much violence and disturbing sex with animals. It was well written though and the character of the dog was crazy.

    Holy shit, I think we may have found someone who could give SF a run for his money in the slashfic department. Either that or this "Kitty Glitter" person is one of his nom de plumes.

  • Banjos||

    I assumed that, just like the internet, almost all holodeck programs were porn.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Yes, but the sheer variety means that no one title got a higher distribution.

  • Banjos||

    Which goes back to the unanswered question, did each ship have its own jizz mopper or did all the bodily fluids dematerialize back into the holodeck's system?

  • Hugh Akston||

    As usual, the answer to all of life's important questions can be found in Up the Long Ladder.

    Commander Riker: That isn't necessary. The ship will clean itself.

    Brenna Odell: Well - good for the bloody ship.

  • Brett L||

    Just what do you think the magic food was made out of?

  • Loki||

  • Mickey Rat||

    Nothing, the Federation does not have currency.

  • Mike M.||

    If only that was a real gun instead of a finger gun.

  • Almanian!||

    Man, just think how nuts Ed Schultz would be if people could watch teh pron online - FOR FREE!

    MASSSSSSTERIA!

  • UnCivilServant||

    There is an important difference - Dickens was boring and I'm pretty sure paid by the word instead of the quality.

  • Goldwin Smith||

    I'm sure you can find plenty of people that think that GTA and COD are boring shit right now.

  • Zeb||

    Indeed. I find video games extremely boring.

  • Paul.||

  • UnCivilServant||

    Well, CoD is lacking in pretty much everything, including the ability to just walk away from the rails for freeform meyhem.

  • ||

    CoD is like football and has become a sport. Not a narrative device or a world building device.

    Strangely it does have a single player campaign but it would not surprise me if most people who play it have never tried it.

    And i am sure most could not accurately describe why the US military is fighting the other team in the battle players fight in.

    "The map is in Russia so the US team is fighting Russians. This other map is in Africa so the US is fighting Africans" would be the typical response.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I like Dickens fine. Long novels were a hallmark of 19th century literature. Read Melville or Dumas or Hugo, for instance.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Melville produced a fine reference work on the processes of whaling. The technical aspects were fascinating. The story - not so much.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What? Don't like whaling, read an abridged version.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I think you read that backwards, it was thw whaling part that I liked. The story was what dragged the rest down.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You know, it is public domain. What you should do is edit out the story and keep the whaling intact. Publish it as Moby-Dick: A Treatise on Whaling.

  • UnCivilServant||

    If I find myself with a spare month, I might.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Make the novel open source and let other people do the actual work.

  • Goldwin Smith||

    And isn't GTA's format to have a long story? I imagine there are people who thinks these stories are bloated and boring. Like what UnCivilServant thinks of Dickens.

  • Acosmist||

    Melville is so much better than Dickens that this comparison is absurd.

  • Winston||

    Moby-Dick was regarded as boring shit in its day. Now it's a classic so some people think it is boring shit once more.

  • Aresen||

    Dickens was paid by the word. Most of his novels were published in episodic form in the weekly edition of the papers.

    People would line up to find out what happened this week to David Copperfield or Sidney Carton.

    As for the length of the stories, you have to remember that there was nothing else for people to do except read. And a good long chunk of fiction was an improvement over reading the latest sermons by Reverend Babble.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What most people don't know is that Sydney Carton actually switched with Charles Darnay a second time before the execution. People who read his lesser-known works, like The Old Pervosity Shop know that Carton survived and gave up law for a life of prostitution.

  • ||

    Ed Schultz: the TEAM BLUE Sean Hannity. Basically an ape with a suit on.

  • some guy||

    Epi will soon be receiving strongly worded letters from apes everywhere.

  • ||

    "I hate every ape I see, from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z..."

  • some guy||

    "Yes you've finally made a monkey out of meeeeee!"

  • BakedPenguin||

    "We've learned that Troy McClure turned down the new McBain movie to star in his own project, The Contrabulous Fantraption of Professor Huffbert Hoofnagel. Will it be as successful? Time will tell."

  • ||

    Kotaku and Polygon have been bitching (rightly) about Fox News coverage of violence in video games.

    Sadly I think Kataku and Polygon will ignore it when it comes from MSNBC.

  • Killazontherun||

    Why not? Everybody but us does as well.

  • #||

    "Ed Schultz: the TEAM BLUE Sean Hannity. Basically an ape with a suit on."

    Except Hannity is generally a happy ape. Shults is an angree bafoon.

    I'd rather have Hannity at my BBQ then Shults.

  • ||

    networked, globalized age

    It should be pointed out that as of right now GTA V is a single player game.

    And I am pretty sure no one has bought the game for the online play.

    It is Rock Star's hope i think that when GTA V goes online in October that it will become an Online game to rival Call of Duty...but right now that is just a wet dream.

  • Brandon||

    I will buy it used in a couple of weeks, just like I have every Xbox game except Skyrim (Christmas present.) I have yet to enable my 360's WiFi.

  • Goldwin Smith||

    The massive sales, growing popularity

    Sell-out! The best video game is some indie title that I have never heard of.

    Also isn't Editor-in-Chief a position of authority?

  • ||

    Technically Rock Star is an indie developer and Mojang which made minecraft is absolutely and indie.

  • Goldwin Smith||

    Yeah but I heard of those games and they are successful!

    Technically the Star Wars Prequels were indies too.

  • Agammamon||

    Rock Star is *not* indie - sure they had their start as a small company making unusal games and not as a money first conglomeration like EA, but after you put out 5 very successful titles in one series, an three in two more, to the point where everyone knows who your studio even people who don't play videogames, by this point you're mainstream.

  • Paul.||

    I agree with this. It's like calling Blizzard an indie developer. Yeah, Cisco started in a living room too. But at some point, when you're earning billions, you ARE the industry leader.

  • ||

    Blizzard is owned by Activision.

    Rock Star games are still self published.

    Yes Blizzard started as Indie but is no longer Indie.

    Indie stands for independent.

  • Agammamon||

    Indie is used to mean a small publisher who is putting out experimental work. Activision used to be an independent publisher (and technically they still are) but *now*, like Rockstar, the define the insdusty.

    I mean its like saying Katey Perry is still a small time pop-star just because she still controls her own music - no, she *is* the mainstream now.

  • Bam!||

    Rockstar is owned by Take-Two. Rockstar is not self-published. They are not indie.

  • Brandon||

    XCom is the best video game. Followed by EarthBound. And then Skyrim and Borderlands 2.

  • Paul.||

    I just started playing Borderlands 2. I'm blown away by just how good that game is.

  • some guy||

    Movies, comic books, and rock and roll – which like novels are often drenched in sex and violence ...

    All honest non-fiction is also drenched in sex and violence.

  • UnCivilServant||

    De Re Metallica was fairly honest by the understanding of the author (it was pre-atomic theory so his understanding was off) but due to the subject matter couldn't include such content unless it became dishonest.

  • Agammamon||

    Man its like the bible, you gots to *know* how to interprete it to find all the sexy, sexy passages.

  • ||

    My beloved is mine and I am his;
    he browses among the lilies.
    Until the day breaks
    and the shadows flee

  • ||

    All honest non-fiction is also drenched in sex and violence.

    Ceasar's "Commentaries on the Gallic War" has a surprising amount of women exposing their breasts from battlements at attacking Roman soldiers.

  • Paul.||

    "You'll have to fight her in the old Highland Way, bare-breasted and each carrying an eight-pound baby."

  • Marshall Gill||

    If only a hand in the shape of a gun could actually fire.

  • ||

    Here you go, Marshall:

    LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH

  • Juice||

    So he's shaping his fingers to resemble a gun? I thought that was considered felony terroristic threatening.

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    Only if it is an 8 year old school boy.

    /zero tolerance

  • Dweebston||

    Ed Schultz...denounced Grand Theft Auto V on his MSNBC show by declaring, “If you’re a parent and you allow your son or daughter to watch this [sic] – even if they’re beyond 18-years-old, you’re a lousy parent.”

    As a high school student, I found Limbaugh's harping on college campus liberalism pretty grating: he denigrated college-age adults as being incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction and right from wrong. A decade later I understand the gist of what he's getting at, the echo-chamber quality of campus culture, the indoctrination by certain tenured professors, the squelching of opposing voices, and the incessent back-patting self-congratulatory habits of young people with little experience outside their sheltered lives in academia. I still don't think much of Limbaugh, but I understand now that he wasn't being paternalistic. He called liberal students on their bullshit because nobody on campus would.

    Ed Shultz, however, is paternlizing. And I hope those he infantilizes recognize the implications about liberal ethos

  • Banjos||

    I remember when I was a kid listening to Limbaugh go off on a culture war rant about the song Baby Got Back when it first came out. At the time I thought "Calm down, it's just a fucking song." I also remember him going off on rants about how environmentalists were ruining our logging industry and thinking "Right on." Which is weird to think about because it means my politics have been the same since I was 10.

  • playa manhattan||

    I was a johnny-come-lately. Sometimes it's a long path to libertarianism....

  • Dweebston||

    Don't you just live for the day when small-c conservatism finally cuts loose the dwindling so-con bloc, and we make some headway reversing New Deal and Great Society policies? I know, I know--unborn babbies and teh geyhz are vital interests for our society.

  • Agammamon||

    Well, the geyhz *are* vital - who else is going to clean up the run-down slums and bad neighborhoods, the cops? The city redevelopment organization?

    In reality, no-one runs out the drug dealers and assorted criminal scum and rebuilds neighborhoods better and faster than gays building a trendy new neighborhood.

  • Dweebston||

    As with everything, I say privatize it: turn civil redevelopment into a game show, Queer Eye meets one of the many, many HGTV knockoffs. I'd watch Andy Dick lead a team of gay designers to reclaim Detroit suburbs.

  • ||

    Logan Circle in DC comes to mind!

  • ||

    Years ago I was flipping through a copy of the American Family Association newsletter and they had an article about a dying southern town that was taken over by gay developers and turned into a thriving resort destination, which brought a needed inflow of cash to the local economy. The entire article was a massive freakout about gays taking over society, destroying good Christian families and turning this town into a modern day Gomorrah (which reminds me, I should visit). I had a tummy ache I was laughing so hard at the spiritual warfare analysis to what sounded like an overwhelmingly positive change for the town.

  • Dweebston||

    That is hilarious. I don't get much out of identity politicking, especially leftist grievance matches and victim trumping, but I enjoy seeing overwrought socons melodrama themselves out of relevance almost as much as feminists making a mockery of their cause.

  • Agammamon||

    Well, keep in mind that at its core, Christianity is focused on the *afterlife*. A core bit of Christian dogma is that its preferable to live a miserable but 'spiritually pure' life in this world to reap the benefits in the next.

    Accepting that premise, their conclusion *is* logical and the change is *not* beneficial.

    Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    they had an article about a dying southern town that was taken over by gay developers and turned into a thriving resort destination, which brought a needed inflow of cash to the local economy.

    Asheville?

  • Brett L||

    Once I understood that his job is to talk for 25 hours a week and have the same several million people tune in to listen to his advertisers' jingles, I pretty much ignored anything he said that didn't entertain me.

  • wingnutx||

    Most people I know that listen to him actually do it because they hate him and want a rage boner.

  • Drake||

    I used to watch his TV show - boiled down to half an hour, it was fun.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    As a kid gamer growing up in the 90s, I remember constantly having my eyes locked in the rolled position while being lectured about video game violence, especially post-Columbine.

  • Brett L||

    Thankfully, my parents didn't give a shit. Although they refused to let us own a console system, if it could be played on the computer, I wasn't getting lectured about the content.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    You haven't known VG hate unless you were around for the Leisure Suit Larry franchise and the clutching of pearls over square, 16 bit color boobies.

  • ||

    I remember sneaking around my dad's home office computer to play LSL. To hear my mom at the time it was like I had watched a donkey show in our backyard.

  • Loki||

    I seem to recall a fair amount of pearl clutching about Duke Nukem too. But Larry was pretty much every anti VG twit's worst nightmares come to life. If only you could combine Duke's ultra violence with Larry's sexual antics...

  • Agammamon||

    Or the pearl clutching around the remake.

  • Duke||

    I totally get the libertarian position that government should not censor or ban video games and why there are regular Reason articles on this subject. I also get that a lot of Reasoners are adolescents creative types who like to play video games. I really do.

    But...

    I think it’s pretty weak to compare a video game where you pose as a mass murderer with a novel or some other thought provoking art form. I think most of us can agree a turd on a plate is not art. I won’t allow my child to play video games because I think they are largely stupid and boring. And I certainly won’t allow him to play anything like GTA when he’s old enough. Why would I as a loving parent give him trash for his young brain to consume?

    Maybe it’s because I never thought video games were very fun. I much preferred to play sports and go in the woods and cut and shoot stuff up for real. I guess I just think video games are super lame. And maybe I’m also a mean and grumpy 37 year old man who doesn’t understand kids these days. That’s what my wife says about me -- except for the "I don’t understand kids these days" part.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    I understand your right to determine what you want your kids to watch, but you do realize that video games, espcially the GTA franchise, has some incredibly complex storylines (made even more complex by the interactive decision making of the players)?

  • Duke||

    but you do realize that video games, espcially the GTA franchise, has some incredibly complex storylines..

    I do not realize that.

  • Agammamon||

    Of course, you're kid is just going to fast forward through the cut-scenes to get back to punching hookers in the mouth with a roll of quarters.

  • MJGreen||

    Not a dildo, Agammamon?

    The purple dildo weapon was the best thing about the last Los Santos GTA. I'm hoping it's still available here.

  • Agammamon||

    I would have thought the dildo was more 'Saint's Row' than 'GTA'.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    I was a teenager during the rise of GTA and Halo. One reason I preferred GTA to the Halo franchise is because Halo was too simple, owing to its linear storyline, whereas GTA pretty much blew my mind as far as its plot and thematic complexity. Would it really be too much of a stretch to draw connections to literary works like War and Peace?

  • Goldwin Smith||

    Would it really be too much of a stretch to draw connections to literary works like War and Peace?

    Well I'm sure you can find people who think both are bloated and boring.

    Though I can't say GTA is "mindblowing" in terms of plot and thematic complexity having seen all sorts of noirs and gangster films.

  • Agammamon||

    It probably is if you're not *already* familiar with noir and gangster films.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    You want complexity and open play hit an MMO. WoW being the biggest of course.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    I'm not really interested in the MMO genre, unless of course, someone were to create an Atlas Shrugged themed MMO.

  • Restoras||

    EVE. WoW is stupid.

  • wingnutx||

    EVE

    No contest.

  • Agammamon||

    The complexity of WoW's storyline may be on par with LoTR's but, experienced bit by bit, its every bit as boring. GTA is a much more visceral experience.

    The gameplay of WoW is not particulary complex - no more than poker, say (I can't speak for GTA on this).

    And WoW is not an open-world experience - its a heavily gated themepark where content is dribble out at a controlled pace. I won't say GTA is particularly open-world either, considering my benchmark was set by the TES games.

  • Agammamon||

    Actually, for the MMO genre, 'Eve Online' its the paragon of sand-box, open-world playing.

    Its also a libertarian nightmare - half the gameplay involves getting a gang together and stealing shit from people weaker than you, and the vast majority of the rest involves fighting off the people trying to steal your shit.

    Though 'EverquestNext' is looking promising for an open-world MMO.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Would it really be too much of a stretch to draw connections to literary works like War and Peace?

    Comparing a video game plot to something like War and Peace would be a huge stretch from an artistic comparison, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's worthless as a cultural touchstone.

    A better comparison of GTA would be to cable series like Mad Men or The Sopranos.

  • Dweebston||

    The caricatures of humanity populating GTA worlds made beating them senseless and gunning them down essentially the same exercise as stomping goombas in Super Mario World. Ironically, I think giving the random civies in GTA more weight and substance would make acting sociopathic more viscerally difficult.

    I didn't play much GTA growing up. I did recently replay HL2 and episodes. That series holds up so well. At this point I hope Valve never comes through on HL3. There's such a slender chance it won't ruin everything.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    Get off his lawn!

  • Killazontherun||

    And maybe I’m also a mean and grumpy 37 year old man who doesn’t understand kids these days.

    I'm 45 and you sound old. I'd let my son when he's twelve play what he wants to play. When I was thirteen my brother would unload his Heavy Metal magazines and Playboys on to me, and when I turned sixteen he and his sailor buddies got me a hooker to blow me for my birthday, and I turned out awesome. I'm not going to get my boy a hooker for his 16th, but if he happens to be hanging out with his uncle that day, I'll understand.

  • Agammamon||

    Uhm, maybe you should just give the uncle some money and instructions for the 16th birthday - I'd think it'd be kinda uncomfortable to get blown while your dad is waiting in the other room.

    You *were* planning on waiting in the other room, right?

  • Killazontherun||

    You are totally confused. Read the last sentence again. I explicitly made clear I would not be a participant in any manner, and I did that to avoid the comment you went on to make anyway because I knew that is where your mind would be bent to go based on what you wrote above.

  • Killazontherun||

    Half an apology, based on what Duke wrote above, I expected the response you wrote from him.

  • Duke||

    I had friends raised that way. Anything went. Their dads gave them porn mags, alcohol, etc at 12 or 13. They didn’t turn out good. To each his own, but I’m raising my son better than that.

  • Killazontherun||

    'Better than that' is a euphemism for 'suppressing all survival instincts.' It's a tough world out there, and the 'of its' beat out the 'above its' every time..

  • KPres||

    It's a tough world out there, and the 'of its' beat out the 'above its' every time.

    Why can't you be both? Or rather, neither? Forget the above or below, focus on action and consequence.

  • Restoras||

    Well, you can try to raise him differently as you see fit. However, that's no guarantee of anything. Just sayin'.

  • Banjos||

    Each child matures at their own rate, some never do at all. It's like the whole education thing, each snowflake learns differently and just like one size fits all education never works, neither does raising children the same way. Take Ken's 15 year old daughter. I would be happy to set her up in an apartment, give her a car, and start her off at the bottom of a company to work her way up and give her all freedoms and responsibilities afforded to an adult. I would have done this for her when she was 13 and have known she would have been fine. On the other hand, half the kids I went to college with shouldn't have been allowed to cook for themselves let alone have given all the freedoms and responsibilities afforded to adults.

  • Duke||

    "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

  • Restoras||

    Good luck with that.

  • Agammamon||

    Heh, this is is H&R (not CNN) - you gotta make sure of these things.

  • Killazontherun||

    Its all good, in own ugly way.

  • Brett L||

    My friend had a son when he was 16. At 21 and 5, respectively, they made a great Halo team.

  • Outlaw||

    That's a damn good brother.

  • Killazontherun||

    The best.

  • ||

    his sailor buddies got me a hooker to blow me for my birthday, and I turned out awesome.

    The my brother's buddies were all assholes.

  • Brett L||

    So, the hooker was a dude in your case?

  • ||

    I GOT NO HOOKER!!!

    That is the point!!!

  • paranoid android||

    I think it’s pretty weak to compare a video game where you pose as a mass murderer with a novel or some other thought provoking art form.

    Art works are thought-provoking, art forms are not. Comic books, to name an obvious example, is another medium that has been derided as being "just for kids" at best and dangerous moral poison at worst, much in the same way video games have been. Are you going to make the argument that, say, Twilight can count as 'thought-provoking' but Watchmen cannot, just because the former is a novel and the latter a comic book?

    This analogy carries quite well to video games. It's true that in a basic sense you "pose as a mass murderer" in the GTA games, but I'll note that the games do mix a lot of social commentary and satire in with the violence (your mileage may vary on how "though-provoking" it is).

    But even if GTA can somehow be objectively evaluated as "trash", as you call it, so what? That's just one example of a work in a very wide and varied medium.

  • Agammamon||

    Anyway, in GTA you're not so much 'mass murderer' as 'spree-killer'.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    I haven't played in years, but I am considered a very boring GTA player to watch. I try to make my character act as professionally as possible: I don't splurge my money, I maintain loyalties, and I limit the number of innocent bystanders that I injure.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I did the same thing. Realistic movie quality gameplay.

  • ||

    In all honesty i think i have killed more people by accident in any GTA game by trying to avoid crashes and plowing over pedestrians then i kill intentionally.

    Of course i really like just driving around the map for hours and hours and hours at very high speeds.

  • Agammamon||

    In all honesty - I've played all of 5 minutes of GTA: San Andreas, on PC.

    Started out, got on the bicycle, ended up in a canal because of the wonky console style camera controls - said screw it and left.

    The games look really awesome (maybe not Skyrim awesome but more awesome than Fallout 3) but not awesome enough to deal with narrow, fixed FOV's and one set of controls for the camera and another to move around.

  • ||

    maybe not Skyrim awesome

    FYI: GTA V is Skyrim awesome...and less buggy if you were unlucky enough to play it early and get the game crashing backward flying dragons.

    At least on the console...I can't speak for PC as I played Skyrim on the console.

  • ||

    Skryim on PS3 was hell.

  • ||

    Although i played it on the PS3 my buddy had it on the Xbox 360 and i played on that for a bit

    Simply switching out a weapon or spell was a 2 min wait.

  • Agammamon||

    Oh, it was buggy as hell on PC - its just we don't have a locked platform and the publisher and developer's *support* modding so Skyrim in 2013 is a bajillion times more stable (but still buggy as hell) and awesome than Skyrim 2011.

  • Dweebston||

    This. I said above that GTA pedestrians are better described as goombas than facscimile people. Only sociopaths would confuse the two, and (as with guns and murder or men and rape), it's the sociopathy, not the instrument, that poses the problem.

  • Duke||

    But even if GTA can somehow be objectively evaluated as "trash", as you call it, so what? That's just one example of a work in a very wide and varied medium.

    This is the essence of my point. Why is Reason arguing that GTA is thought provoking art? Who cares. I don’t visit this political site to read why video games are super awesome art forms. All that matters is whether they are legal or censored. I simply find that it undermines the legal/libertarian position to oppose censorship of video games by also claiming how GTA is really a thought provoking art form. It’s not. It’s video game porn.

  • Duke||

    LIBERTARIAN DISCLAIMER:

    THESE ARE MY OPINIONS AND NOT THE OPINIONS OF REASON MAGAZINE. I AM TOLERANT OF ALL OPINIONS THAT DIFFER FROM MINE.

  • Outlaw||

    Reason's child slave-drivers also comment on culture. Just the way she goes. I'd suggest just avoiding articles you don't like.

  • Duke||

    Good solution. That way only people who all agree with each other can comment.

  • ||

    Who cares. I don’t visit this political site to read why video games are super awesome art forms.

    Umm, clearly you do.

  • Duke||

    Clearly.

  • KPres||

    How about this, Duke. Video games aren't today's topic because Reason loves video games, they're today's topic because the dumbfuck statists want them banned. So maybe today is not the day to voice your distaste, since it can only fuel the fire. And maybe the other commenters are aware of this, and react to you accordingly.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    I agree with your premise here with respect to arguing libertarian perspective. I generally do not try to emphasize utility or outcome of a particular premise, but rather argue based on moral grounds. For example, I generally do not argue that drug laws should be eliminated because it will lead to less drug-related violence (or some other nice outcome). I argue that drug laws should be eliminated because you own your body, not the gov't.

  • MJGreen||

    It’s not. It’s video game porn.

    Says the person who hasn't played it?

    To answer your question: Cosmotarians!! They have some interest in a more open-minded culture, and not simply a libertarian politics. Their motto includes "Free minds" for a reason.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Pepsi-drinking, cosmotarian hippies! /shakesfist

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    Meh - if it is legal, unhassled by regulation or Ed Shultzes, I could care less if people play or not.

    The only mind I worry about is the the nanny-closed ones that would ban, restrict or regulate.

  • ||

    It’s not. It’s video game porn.

    Wait...

    Porn is not art?

    Why does art have to provoke thought? Can't art be visceral instead and provoke feeling?

    Also there is a some grade A comedy in GTA V. Comedy is art right?

  • ||

    Also there is a some grade A comedy in GTA V

    And grade-A comedy about GTA V

  • Acosmist||

    Porn is generally not art. hth

  • ||

    This is the essence of my point. Why is Reason arguing that GTA is thought provoking art? Who cares. I don’t visit this political site to read why video games are super awesome art forms. All that matters is whether they are legal or censored.

    From the about page:

    Reason is the monthly print magazine of "free minds and free markets." It covers politics, culture, and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews. Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity.
  • Duke||

    Alright then. So Gillespie’s statement that Grand Theft Auto is the new Great Expectations suffices as cultural commentary?

    That’s just space-filling drek. And I don’t even like Dickens’ writing.

  • UnCivilServant||

    As a writer, avid reader and video gamer, I assure you, you get schlock in all forms of media, but you also get examples of fantastic storytelling.

    As for mass murderers, a fair number of literary protagonists fit the bill. In Tolkien, the 'good guys' were simply faced with a reversal of fortunes in a genoscidal war their forebearers wrought against the Orcs for the crimes of A: industrializing and B: not wanting to live in the shithole they'd been forced into by the 'good' powers. And the protagonists seemed determined to execute the extermination to completion. That always sort of put me off.

    Then you get into Faust's refusal to abide by a lawful contract, one willingly made, albeit with Satan...

  • ||

    It's not like the orcs were just innocent bystanders going about their business industrializing things.

  • ||

    I much preferred to play sports and go in the woods and cut and shoot stuff up for real.

    But you are OK with your kid watching movies and TV and reading books?

    For better or for worse video games are not so much replacing the activities you describe but are in fact replacing TV and Movies and books.

    The difference being that in video games you (your kids) have more creative control over the narrative. Video games are not a full on education in story telling and an imagination factory but they are a lot closer to that then TV movies and books.

    I can understand you not wanting your kids to play GTA V. It is very adult themed. But i also think your kids would be better off playing say Minecraft then watching nickelodeon...or worse MTV reality shows.

  • ||

    Not all novels are great œuvres d'art, you know. Some are just mass-appeal entertainment cheese. Same goes for opera. If you actually read most librettos, they are just romance novels set to music. In that way, the comparison is completely apt.

  • Outlaw||

    When I was four, my dad used to stay up late and play Contra with me on the original NES back in '90.

    After we beat the game he'd always make me brownies and then put me to bed.

    Those are some good damn memories. He did outdoorsy stuff with me too but I can't imagine how dull life would've been without video games.

    Now that I'm older I don't play them much, but you gotta let your kid experience different things.

    Sure, taking him shooting is great. But you should also take him on a two-man mission to destroy alien invaders and defeat the Soviet Union.

    Why? Because America, that's why.

  • Killazontherun||

    Amen.

  • Dweebston||

    Contra? That's just abuse.

  • Outlaw||

    No, Rush 'N Attack was.

  • Dweebston||

    Show us on the doll where the enemy combatant one-shot killed you.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Eventually, your son will visit a friend and discover video games. When he is old enough, you will realize that his autonomy is more valuable than your own opinion of fun.

  • canuck53||

    you are 37 and never played video games? GTA is targeted directly at your generation and younger. You sound lile your 57.

  • Loki||

    Shorter Duke: "GET OFF MY LAWN!"

  • Paul.||

    I won’t allow my child to play video games because I think they are largely stupid and boring.

    We've come a long way since the Nintendo PowerGlove.

    And I certainly won’t allow him to play anything like GTA when he’s old enough.

    I don't understand this comment. I agree, I don't let my daughter watch porn, why would I let her play GTA? But "When he's old enough?" Does that mean when he's 37 years old you're going to be barring him from violent video games?

    I much preferred to play sports and go in the woods and cut and shoot stuff up for real.

    Why not both? I do both. I play video games, then I go out into the woods and cut and shoot stuff up for real.

    And maybe I’m also a mean and grumpy 37 year old man

    You're younger than me and you sound more square than my dad.

    *shakes cane*

  • ||

  • ||

    There is this great moment in the game when Micheal is hiding out in Trevor's trailer where you can drink beer and smash the bottles while trevor's 57 year old kidnap victim and lover interest (wife of a Mexican drug kingpin) cleans the house and repeats over and over again "You boys are so messy"

  • ||

    Look at that Alpha, showing that Beta who's boss.

    Of course who am I to talk, I'm just a Gamma.

  • Killazontherun||

    Do alphas, betas and omegas exists among crows. It occurred to me if there is any other creature that can play 3D chess (GoT ranger squabbling aside!) against disposition it would be the crows.

  • Biden's Scroteplugs||

    Coca Cola apologizes one last time for bottle caps with Ed Shultz printed on them.

  • Agammamon||

    That article ain't gonna link itself.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    one last time

    Were the Browns present?

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    Nope, let us down...again.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    If you prefer Pepsi to Coke, you're a commie.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I concur.

  • Swiss Servator, Spare a Franc?||

    Agreed.

  • Jordan||

    What about RC Cola?

  • Caleb Turberville||

    RC Cola is fine. I think Coke has a crisper taste. I find Pepsi an odd formula. From what I read, it has more sugar than Coke, which makes sense, which I have noticed, but it's also supposed to have less carbonation than Coke. I don't know about you, but for me, Pepsi is the equivalent of the fizzy-lifting drinks from Willy Wonka.

  • Agammamon||

    Then you're still a commie, just one with halfway decent taste, so . . . a socialist?

  • ||

    It needs to be said:

    Trevor has a passing resemblance to Nick Gillespie. Not his evil twin...but he could be his brother.

    Speaking of Trevor there is a great moment when Micheal calls Trevor out as a "Proto-hipster"....mentioning Trevor's odd eclectic choices in his cloths cars hair drug use and life style choices.

  • Loki||

    Ed Schultz...denounced Grand Theft Auto V on his MSNBC show by declaring, “If you’re a parent and you allow your son or daughter to watch this [sic] – even if they’re beyond 18-years-old, you’re a lousy parent.” Schultz compounds his error of referring to the game as if it was a movie by then calling it “the latest Xbox 360,” confusing a console with a particular title.

    He wouldn't be a mainstream cable news "journalist" if he could get the most basic of facts straight. What a dipshit.

  • William of Purple||

    Conan reviews it.

  • William of Purple||

    gais, Is it worth getting the game?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The article doesn't actually meet the real criticisms of GTA - not there aren't steller rebuttals available, the author just didn't attempt any, going for straw-manning instead. OMG they just hate new technology, David Copperfield is just like GTA but with boring text instead of cool graphics!!!

    As I understand it, the critics aren't criticizing GTA because its new technology. Otherwise, wouldn't they criticize Minecraft as well - which I understand is just as technology-y but involves building up a business/country versus shooting hookers. And I presume they'd criticize GTA even if it were a popular carnival attraction involving shooting photos of hookers with a pellet gun.

    If you want a dead-tree counterpart to GTA, assume Dickens wrote Oliver Twist from Fagin's viewpoint, and with an army of armed henchmen instead of pickpocket urchins.

    "And as Oliver squeezed the trigger on his Glock and watched Peter the Panderer crumple to the ground, he felt a strange new stirring in his loins..."

  • Winston||

    The article doesn't actually meet the real criticisms of GTA

    What else do you expect from Gillespie?

  • Agammamon||

    Which would have made the whole of 'Oliver Twist' so much more readable.

  • Loki||

    If you want a dead-tree counterpart to GTA, assume Dickens wrote Oliver Twist from Fagin's viewpoint, and with an army of armed henchmen instead of pickpocket urchins.

    I'd read the shit out of that. The original? Not so much.

  • ||

    As I understand it, the critics aren't criticizing GTA because its new technology. Otherwise, wouldn't they criticize Minecraft as well

    They are criticizing minecraft:

    You don't need to tell me that it's unhealthy for my 12-year-old kid to play Minecraft his every waking minute

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....l?ir=Fifty

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    A good counterexample, but I don't think a Huffington Post writer, even a Senior Writer, is "they."

  • ||

    That is just the one i found at top of google search.

    Criticism of it was more common like a year ago.

    That Huffington post lady is not the only one....just the most recent one i could find.

    Also Minecraft is big but not $800 million on day of release big....Minecraft's growth was a slow burn over time....it is expected that GTA V will make a larger splash among these sorts of critics then Minecraft did.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Just out of curiosity, what was the general thrust of the criticism?

    Maybe the critics are showing as little regard for nuance as Nick Gillespie himself, in which case I'm certainly sorry for overestimating the critics.

    But I can see how someone could object to a book/game/movie/papyrus scroll glorifying violence while having nothing against nonviolent entertainment or - gasp! - entertainment which puts violence in a moral context (last resort against a genuine threat).

  • ||

    Just out of curiosity, what was the general thrust of the criticism?

    "Minecrack" addiction among tender youth.

    Yet for some reason they don't worry about legocrack addiction...or in my youth "epic Star wars vs Phisher Price adventure toy figure battle that lasts a three day weekend and raged though out the household and into the yard 27/7."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    OK, so maybe they're technophobes. But the concern with GTA (and dead tree counterparts like American Psycho and the like) is about how it glorifies nihilistic violence.

    And I reiterate the point which many "violence in media" activists seem to ignore - that it's OK to show Gary Cooper shooting the baddies - that's not the equivalent of the titular characters in Natural Born Killers going around killing people just to watch them die.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Shit, I mentioned Gary Cooper, now I'm going to get the get-off-my-lawn jokes. I should have mentioned The Avengers movie to make my point about heroic violence.

  • ||

    Also read "The Talented Mr Ripply" Or "The Killer Inside me"

    Both were written over 50 years ago and their fictionalized apathy toward human life is identical to that found in GTA.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Well, if you can find a bunch of mainstream figures who mourn how the kids today play GTA instead of reading wholesome stuff lie The Killer Inside Me, then maybe you've rebutted me.

  • ||

    A kid could buy those books today easier then then they can get a copy of GTA V.

    WHERE IS THE PARENTAL OUTRAGE?!?!?!?

    Also Huck Finn has some pretty gruesome stuff in it. The feud in it has all sorts of people killing one another GTA style....then there is the fate of Huck's dad....of course an average 13 year old probably would not catch what went on there.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    OK, but here's the thing about Huck Finn (the novel and, for all I know, the game): The people doing the violence are *bad guys.* The people using the n-word are *racist bad guys.*

    There's a considerable difference between a novel/video game/papyrus scroll where the hero is defending justice/rescuing the princess and is obliged to take risks and fight bad guys on the way, and a game/novel/cave-painting where the violence is in aid of robbery, which is portrayed as noble.

  • ||

    The people using the n-word are *racist bad guys.*

    umm...have you read the book?

    Everyone uses the n-word in that book including Huck and Jim who are the hero's of the book.

    Also the feud killed off a kid who was maybe a year older then Huck if not same age.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    OK, the point was that the people using the n-word were being foolish because Jim was actually a nice guy.

    And the death of the kid, as I recall, was portrayed as a Bad Thing, not as something that gets you points.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    It was a while since I read Huck Finn, and I don't actually remember the n-word. I *do* recall that Huck and Jim were about the only two non-insane, non-evil characters - the rest were people the reader would not want to emulate (except perhaps the wacky Tom Sawyer).

  • ||

    except perhaps the wacky Tom Sawyer

    Actually at the end of the book Tom Sawyer when he withholds the fact that Jim is free only so he can play a game of trying to rescue him from his chains comes off as pretty damn sadistic.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    That's why I called him insane - but some kids would like him from the Tom Sawyer novel. Hence my disclaimer.

  • ||

    He was called the n-word because in the south at that time that was what everyone called blacks.

    It was no different then calling blacks blacks or whites whites today.

    It was simply how people spoke.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Hmmm...Frederick Douglass to my knowledge didn't call himself that after leaving the South...I expect that the usage of the term was part and parcel of the caste system of the region.

    In any event, my focus is on the context of the violence in literary works, not the language. A young reader of Twain's novel would not have felt violence was cool, but something nasty. If Twain had portrayed Huck as racking up points by killing people who got in his way, then maybe it would be comparable to GTA.

  • ||

    If Twain had portrayed Huck as racking up points by killing people who got in his way, then maybe it would be comparable to GTA.

    You don't get points...maybe trophies or rewards for missions that require you to kill in order to complete.

    One thing you mentioned is that only bad guys did bad stuff in Huck Finn. I disagree. I think the book is more complex and ambiguous then that. But lets say you are right.

    In GTA V the worst most monstrous character you play, Trevor, is portrayed as a monster as a horrible person and he is shunned and hated by nearly everyone in the game world. Seriously random people on the street will call him a kidnapper and creep and monster when they walk by. The other 2 characters are punished through out the game for their greed and violence. Their loved ones leave them and are shunned....and the violence obviously takes a physiological toll at least in the story on them...Micheal wakes up in cold sweats and pines for his family back and constantly confesses how much of a horrible person he is to his physiologist, bagging to be told how horrible he is. While Franklin loses his gf whom he obviously is deeply in love with and every time you have him smoke pot he nearly breaks down in tears because he lacks any real friends. His Aunt also has a very low opinion of him for the life choices he has made.

    GTA 4 was similar in its portrayal of Niko.

    The story narrative of GTA does say these are bad people.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Interesting...frankly, I was going off a Youtube runthrough of one of the GTAs - the one with the Eastern European immigrants. You got around by breaking into cars, if you shot a passer-by you could collect their money, etc...maybe I missed the nuances.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Oh, and one of the missions was to smash the windows of some Asian businessman to get him to pay protection to your gang.

    And the mission where you hijack a shipment of TVs or something and...oops! you keep hijacking the wrong trucks.

  • canuck53||

    “If you’re a parent and you allow your son or daughter to watch this [sic] – even if they’re beyond 18-years-old, you’re a lousy parent.”

    Wow. what a fool. I would hate to be his 30 something year old children. Does he tell them what movies and TV shows they are not allowed to watch.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    Alt-alt-text:

    " 'ere ya go Magwitch, Compeyson's body as cold as the north sea, just like you asked. Pip's done bloody good, I think e's ready for a bigger job. 'E's turned into a quite a right young gentleman, that lad!"

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Marley was dead, to begin with. Scrooge made sure there was no doubt about that. Using the ganja instead of selling it to tourists - not cool.

    But now Marley's spirit stood in front of Scrooge - shaking his chains - gold chains, that is - and going on about "unfinished business."

    "Ya mon, bidness is bidness, ya know, so if ya do one thing for me I'm a forget how ya killed me, ya know? Go and kill that brat Tiny Tim who overcharged me for product, ya know? Ya will be assisted by tree spirits - da spirits of ganjas past, present and future..."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    It was the worst of times for the poor Frogs, but it was the best of times for Sidney Carton. He extended one arm - the arm that wasn't holding his vodka - and stroked Lucie's smooth bare ass.

    Lucie had gone through a brief period of mourning for Darnay, but a few sessions of hot sex with Carton had driven such thoughts out of her mind - she'd believed Carton's cock-and-bull story about how he tried to switch himself with Darnay at the last minute, blah blah. He'd actually spent the time at Madame DeFarge's wine shop, paying her off for the favor she did in turning Darnay over to the Jacobins. Lucie didn't know about that part, either.

    Carton put a line of fine white powder cocaine on the sleeping Lucie's butt and snorted. He slapped a wad of 20-pound notes on Lucie's end-table and went out to meet Jerry Cruncher for "a bit o'kinky sex with a woman what won't talk back."

  • ||

    Spoiler:

    In one mission of GTA V you play as Trevor and you torture a guy who is obviously innocent and does not have any information. You put battery pinchers on his nipples and shock him and you can pull a tooth out and you can hit him in the legs with a monkey wrench.

    On the question of thought provoking art I am pretty sure the game developers meant for this part of the game to be repulsive....it certainly was not fun.

    The mission in question is part of the main story line and as far as I could tell there is no way to avoid that particular game play. You literally have to do it in order to progress through the story.

    I should also point out that it is the government having Trevor torture the guy....though Trevor being the monster that he is enjoys it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "The mission in question is part of the main story line and as far as I could tell there is no way to avoid that particular game play. You literally have to do it in order to progress through the story."

    OK, there's a problem right there. I heard from GTA defenders that it's all about choices - you could *choose* not to carjack some guy's car, you could *choose* not to shoot the hooker, etc. Now I'm hearing that you have to go through with torturing someone to advance in the game. At least Mario never waterboarded Bowser.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "On the question of thought provoking art I am pretty sure the game developers meant for this part of the game to be repulsive....it certainly was not fun."

    I'm just spitballing here, but this sounds like desensitization. It sounds like the psychological preparation you'd give one of your henchmen to get him used to the idea of doing nasty things. So of course the first time you do it it feels bad, but keep going and it becomes tolerable, then routine.

    I mean, imagine a video game where you're doing the bidding of a socialist (or *national* socialist) government, and you work yourself up from *breaking windows* to killing the terminally ill to killing undesirables. I'm not saying you'd do that stuff in real life, but it isn't exactly a life-affirming message.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Again, my complaint isn't "ZOMG violence!!" but the nihilistic nature of the violence. Even one of those soldier games where you shoot up an enemy-occupied fortress would be better, since at least you're fighting to restore justice and order against evildoers who threaten the earth/universe/solar system, etc.

  • Redmanfms||

    Sometimes a game is just a game dude. Jesus.

    But I guess those pearls can't clutch themselves, can they?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    My point is that you can like GTA if that's your thing, or you can shrug it off as a game, but you can't really say it's like a Dickens novel with better effects. That's what the article suggested.

    So defend the game on its own terms, argue for its irrelevance (an irrelevance which earned the owners a buttload of money), but that's hardly the same as the article's thesis about how GTA is quote, "the new Great Expectations," unquote.

  • cavalier973||

    Playing "Donkey Kong Country Returns" with the kiddos right now.

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