Love and Hate in Los Santos

I am loathe to write about Grand Theft Auto V, and yet here it is Wednesday morning, and I am on a deadline, and I know I’m going to have to write about it because it’s the only thing my brain is going to let me talk about until I excise these opinions. It’s like when my four-year-old asks for dessert before he’s finished his brussel sprouts. It’s just not going to happen, pal.

Well, writing about Grand Theft Auto V is eating my brussel sprouts, so let’s just get through this with minimum pain.

The other thing I know is that before I get to the opinions part, I need to write a review of GTA 5, because until you’ve written one of those, a subset of readers will assume any comment is a review. So, let’s get that out of the way too.

Grand Theft Auto V – Review

GTA 5 is perhaps the most expensive game ever made, and the sheer magnitude of the accomplishment delivered by Rockstar cannot be understated. It delivers again and again with next-generation graphics on an Xbox 360/PS3, clean and easy to use mechanics, a complicated and engaging narrative, and, above all else, a dense, living world with endless things to do. It’s the kind of game you could spend weeks or months with and still feel like you haven’t seen everything, even exceeding games like Skyrim in the breadth and depth of its world.
Objectively, the game not only delivers on the core of what defines the Grand Theft Auto series, it is arguably as much an evolution of the open-world gameplay model as GTA 3 was when it launched on the PlayStation. It’s like watching a bumble bee fly; you wonder how it doesn’t collapse under its own weight, how the Rockstar team didn’t succumb to simply losing themselves or their direction under the tangled web of game systems, and yet there it is, flying like an insult to God, defying every rule you thought you knew.

In short, as a video game and a technological achievement, GTA 5 is brilliant.

Score: 300 stolen cars out of a downtown parking lot.

Thus endeth the review.

I hate GTA 5.

Or maybe I hate being impressed by GTA 5. Or maybe I like GTA 5 the game, and hate GTA 5 the racist, misogynist, foul-tempered, inconsistent, paranoid-schizophrenic psychopath. Honestly, I’m not sure. All I know for sure is that playing GTA 5 is like eating a jalapeño-bacon double-cheeseburger three months after having heart surgery. It’s so good while you’re doing it, but you know it’s just terrible for you and that if you die from it you have no one to blame but yourself.

Well, maybe it’s not exactly like that either, but you get the idea.

Grand Theft Auto V is like reading a Mario Puzo novel, except that it’s been rewritten by one of the random people I’ve played Call of Duty against on Xbox Live. It’s like hanging out with the family you love, except you got stuck sitting next to the uncle that loves to lower his voice and start his sentences with, “I’m not racist, but … .” It’s like hanging out with your best friend, except that just recently he’s gotten interested in politics without also getting interested in having any education on political issues.

The game is a monument to itself, a stubborn stereotype with its heels dug in deep. It’s the annoying “bad guy” on reality television that has realized the only way it’s going to get noticed is by being the unapologetic yet vaguely charismatic jerk that the promo announcer can call “the guy all of America looooves to hate!” It is, in other words, the videogame equivalent of Simon Cowell, a successful and clearly intelligent creature obsessed with its own image and motivated exclusively by its ego and impenetrable illusion of self-accomplishment.

Yes, in part this is about the stupid, childish and completely unnecessary way the game treats women. The sloppy and hollow way the female characters of GTA 5 are written are all the more inexcusable because of Red Dead Redemption, which stands in stark contrast. It’s also in part because it is willfully violent, and gleefully bathes in the blood of the insignificant chattel of stereotypes that make up the population of Los Santos.

But I’m not looking to be a white knight here or a prude. While I agree entirely with the criticisms laid at Rockstar’s feet for apparently willfully playing not just to the lowest common denominator, but perpetuating stereotypes that have practical and measurably negative impacts, my actual complaint here is that by doing so they are just continuing to play into the self-obsessed cult of themselves to which they clearly have a dogmatic allegiance. In other words, it’s not that they are portraying violence, racism, sexism or other societal ills. It’s that they’re doing it in the laziest most meaningless ways possible.

If you want to tell a story about one of those isms, then by all means do so. But give it some kind of substance. For all the work GTA5 does in telling a reasonable story of its main characters, it constantly undermines itself by abandoning that clever storytelling when the opportunity comes to make a woman or a middle-eastern man look ridiculous. It’s like the game stops every few minutes or so to say, “hang on, I’ll get back to the story in a sec, but check out this chick over here. What a bitch, amirite?”

No. You’re not.

I’m sure, that some of the decision makers around GTA 5 love articles and opinions just like this one. First of all, with more than a billion in sales, the perfect response to criticism like this is, “I can’t hear you over the deafening sound of people buying, playing and loving our game.” And that’s fine, because I don’t expect you to change. This isn’t about you, it’s actually about me.

You see, I really enjoy playing Grand Theft Auto V — the game itself, I mean. Like I said at the beginning, it’s a brilliant game, and in many ways a testament to how immersive and complex a game world can be. It’s a thing that you want to be able to point to and show off as an accomplishment. But then the next moment, GTA 5 opens its mouth and something newly ignorant, embarrassing and stupid comes pouring out.

And like that uncle at the dinner party, the game always tries to hide its offensiveness under a patina of parody or self-righteousness, but it doesn't work. Instead of being deep or complex it sounds instead like Uwe Boll’s pitch for a Postal 2 movie. It’s like they think they’re the first guy to come up with the idea of getting to tell racist or sexist jokes under the guise of using the jokes themselves as a commentary against ignorance or inequality. The I’ll-tell-the-most-racist-joke-to-show-how-wrong-racism-is idea has long since been exposed as disingenuous, or at least counterproductive .

Look, I get it. I’m a forty-year-old man with a wife and two kids, and worse than that, I’ve got all these annoying ideologies about social change in and out of the games industry, desiring things to be more inclusive and to tone down the unnecessarily divisive rhetoric. It’s all very annoyingly liberal-agenda-nonsense to a lot of people, and if you bristle against that kind of bleeding-heart naïveté, then this definitely isn’t going to resonate with you. I mean, I think one of the best games of the year is Gone Home, so who the hell am I to be critiquing GTA 5? For Chrissake, I feed my kids brussel sprouts; that’s really all you need to know, right there.

It’s ok, because I’ve already lost. The market has clearly spoken, and my grousing about GTA 5 being a cultural step backwards has been considered and summarily dismissed. The verdict is already in, and all I’ve got left is some sour grapes and self-imposed white/male guilt. And, in the end, I think that may be why I hate GTA 5 so much.

Because it won.

Comments

Podunk wrote:

I don't think the story is horrible. I think it's some of the best, most subversive, most self aware writing in a video game. And I am not the only one.

This is pretty much how I feel.

This skirts dangerously close to "you're wrong for enjoying this", and that's not generally something we do. Taking it out of the abstract: I like GTA V, and it doesn't mean that I'm ignoring or in love with a laundry list of perceived negative traits.

That's definitely not what I intended, so I can try to put it a different way if you want.

Satire is a pretty fine line, and when it's done well it's amazing. I don't see many people arguing that GTA V does it well. I would argue GTA has never really done it well, it's always been pretty blunt and sometimes crosses over into being celebratory of the things it is supposedly satirizing.

The fact that it's the most popular game ever made means there's a healthy market of people who either disagree and think it's good satire, or they don't care, or they don't think it's satire and enjoy it anyway.

People can enjoy whatever they enjoy, no judgement there. But there are definitely bad reasons for people to enjoy pretty much anything. At that point, I am fine calling that like I see it.

Can I point at any one person and go "You're bad for enjoying GTA V?" no, of course not. Furthermore if I did they would be entirely justified in telling me to go f*ck off.

Nonetheless, GTA keeps reveling in the terribleness of the human (specifically American) condition. People seem to continue to eat it up, and I find that vaguely depressing.

TheHipGamer wrote:
Podunk wrote:

I don't think the story is horrible. I think it's some of the best, most subversive, most self aware writing in a video game. And I am not the only one.

This is pretty much how I feel.

Looks like a pretty cool piece, but seems pretty spoiler heavy and I had to stop reading.

Good article, there are definitely some things to be critical of in GTA 5. I loathe the way "political correctness" has become way too prevalent for its own good in our society in certain aspects, and this is coming from someone who is very socially aware. But some of the stuff in the game is unnecessary, and detracts rather than adds to the overall experience. It's insane and over the top, but of course they know it's over the top, and we know it's over the top, so it's a basic case of doubling down on that aspect and just going completely over the top. I get the argument about the "satire" but it's often extremely funny and I think people are being a little too critical about that element. It works for the most part and helps give Los Santos its seedy pulse.

On the flip side, the game is incredible. The world is gigantic and alive, the gameplay generally ranges from good to excellent, and the storyline itself is extremely well done and surprisingly nuanced at times. As mentioned on the podcast, while the 3 main characters are essentially stereotypes, they are given a reasonable amount of depth and I enjoy playing as all 3 of them for different reasons.

The main (and really, inexcusable) problem here as mentioned in many reviews is the portrayal of women. On the jewel heist, I picked a female computer hacker as a member of my crew. She could easily have been given a more prominent role (maybe this will happen later on). As mentioned on the podcast, they could have added a really interesting storyline with a stripper. There are lots of options, and I am a bit confused as to why they didn't do something like this. Seems pretty obvious to me.

Overall though, fantastic game and well worth playing.

Great review Sean, and for the record, I am a 20 some year old who feels the same. No kids or Brussels sprouts here, just a strong desire for more inclusive communities.

DanB wrote:

You could fix just about all of GTAVs story problems if the Franklin Character were a hispanic woman trying to work her way out of the hood and if there were some actually sympathetic portrayals of women.

(also it is kind of weird how "absent" women are in the character's lives)

Go one further.

Imagine GTAV you're a cop. How does it sell?

I said in the Conference Call thread that GTA5 seems to, at multiple levels, be packed with "I don't want to be like this anymore, but I can't seem to be anything else," which I guess makes it very much like a lot of premium-channel dramas about criminals, including The Sopranos. Thing is, that stance was fairly fresh and new when HBO did it, and shows like Dexter put a neat other spin on it, but I don't get the impression that GTA5 uses that trope in an interesting way. Maybe it applies in a meta-commentary on the trope itself being sort of worn out, but that'd be a pretty generous interpretation.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

GTA V suffers from the same problem. Someone (I think on Weekend Confirmed) said something akin to "the Housers clearly hate North American culture" and I think that's 100% true. The problem is, they're not able to express this with any subtlety or originality whatsoever. The TV, the news broadcasts, the radio DJs, the ambient characters, it's all a caricature and criticism of North American culture. Like Gone Home, I completely agree with the message but it feels like GTA V is constantly shoving it in your face with no nuance whatsoever because they're scared you'll "miss the message" if your face isn't rubbed in it constantly. "Hey, listen! This stuff is so stupid, right? Have you realised it's stupid yet?! HAVE YOU SEEN THE STUPIDITY OF IT?!"

Mex wrote:

I don't get it, it's just another game. Just tries to use more "satire" or whatever, even if it doesn't always work.

I think the issue with satire is that, like PxAbs says, it's not really very good as a satire. I think that the growing popularity of the Saints Row games (that seem to do a better job with the lampooning) really undermines the notion of GTA as satire.

I'm sure there's more for me to say here, but I only got that far in the comments. Oops!

jowner wrote:
DanB wrote:

You could fix just about all of GTAVs story problems if the Franklin Character were a hispanic woman trying to work her way out of the hood and if there were some actually sympathetic portrayals of women.

(also it is kind of weird how "absent" women are in the character's lives)

Go one further.

Imagine GTAV you're a cop. How does it sell?

As it happens, I'm Playing Sleepy Dogs at the moment. Works pretty well

stevenmack wrote:
jowner wrote:
DanB wrote:

You could fix just about all of GTAVs story problems if the Franklin Character were a hispanic woman trying to work her way out of the hood and if there were some actually sympathetic portrayals of women.

(also it is kind of weird how "absent" women are in the character's lives)

Go one further.

Imagine GTAV you're a cop. How does it sell?

As it happens, I'm Playing Sleepy Dogs at the moment. Works pretty well :)

Incidentally, Sleeping Dogs also has a pretty badass female supporting character in Mrs. Chu.
IMAGE(http://s3.gamefreaks.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Sleeping-Dogs-Mrs-Chus-Revenge-Video.jpg)

To me, all I have heard both critically and from some of my work friends who are playing it, the series has clearly moved away from what I was starting to enjoy. Tommy Versetti was just not for me. CJ, got more interesting as you went along. Niko was an incredible character. I loved his story, his attempts to rise up before being smacked back down and deciding to stay down in the grime of the world. Franklin sounds interesting in theory... but when he is one of three characters... and even then, not great in execution from what I have read... the other two of whom sound just repugnant to me... just... buh. I really wish Rockstar would stop trying to make these games as shock-filled as possible for the sake of being shock-filled. I have no desire to torture someone... I have no desire to be a paparazzo degrading a young woman.

To me, it is one of the jokes of SR4 that really makes me think that this is where I am now... I want to be a puckish rogue, not a sociopath, and it would seem GTA now wants to force me into the latter. Thanks, but no thanks. Here's to hoping that Volition keeps going into the next gen with the Saints.

@Parallax Abstraction

I think you took a brave stance with your comparison of Gone Home and GTA V and make a great argument.

@ the comment of white male guilt, I just want to point out that their are plenty of stupid white males in this game as well. And there have been GTA games with the main character being non-white, but that didn't necessarily solve this problem.

As far as beating you over the head with the message, I think part of the problem is building a non-linear, open world. Obviously the story parts everyone who plays through it will experience, but as far as radio station or side missions and things like that, there is no guarantee that a player will see that content, and I think the tendency to solve that is to repeat the joke/message.

Red Dead Redemption was definitely a better game, but that is one of the all time greatest games.

I would love to see Rockstar tackle leading female characters. I would love to see the next GTA follow three females bank robbers or career criminals trying to make it in a man's world and become queenpins. I think it could be a fascinating story. That is, so long as they don't try writing the whole thing without some strong female writers.

As usual GWJers have been able to express what I think and feel about a game more eloquently than I can, so I'll confine myself to two things:

@Trashie's point about the game being a huge step backwards in terms of the story and the main characters... I agree. And I lay much of the blame for this at the feet of those who lambasted GTA IV for not being 'fun' and promised to switch their allegiance to Saints Row instead.

The history of gaming is littered with the corpses of first movers who were usurped by their imitators (I'm looking at you Medal of Honour). Unsurprisingly, Rockstar have seen the writing on the wall and returned to their San Andreas in more ways than one.

On the question of female characters, Houser was in the Guardian two weeks claiming that there was no female protagonist because masculinity is at the heart of the story he is trying to tell. I don't buy this. I think that the reason that they don't have any even vaguely interesting female characters is because they are incapable of creating them and then writing for them. They're the George Lucases of gaming writing. Their deepest characters are male and pretty shallow, while their female characters are nothing more than cardboard cut-outs at and sexist stereotypes at worst.

My own view is that, having established the broad GTA template, they should either disband the fraternity and bring in (female) collaborators or step back from the writing part altogether.

I have no doubt that I'm going to enjoy my journey through Los Santos, but I can't see myself buying their next game unless there's a major change of direction.

detroit20 wrote:

On the question of female characters, Houser was in the Guardian two weeks claiming that there was no female protagonist because masculinity is at the heart of the story he is trying to tell. I don't buy this.

Actually I think this is true but only for Michael and Trevor. I don't think you could swap those character's genders and leave their narratives as is. Michael's narrative, that particular form of "middle aged white guy has mid-life crisis" is a trope in and of itself and probably couldn't exist in that form if you swapped him for a female character. So, if that's the story they feel they simply had to tell then they kind of have to go with a white guy. Now that's not to say they should have picked that story to tell, after all what we get is a slightly rewarmed Tony Soprano, and maybe we don't need that.

Franklin on the other hand has a much more every man story; The kid who wants to make good and escape their lower class beginnings (makes dubious decisions along the way). There's really nothing about that story which couldn't be set as a female part. It's doubly annoying to me as the series has already done 'black guy climbs out of the hood' with San Andreas, so they're really treading over old ground.

detroit20 wrote:

I think that the reason that they don't have any even vaguely interesting female characters is because they are incapable of creating them and then writing for them.

I am inclined to believe this. And one of the reasons is precisely because Franklin is retread of CJ.

@DanB

Well, I haven't met Trevor yet (I hope to make his acquaintance tonight... so long as tennis, golf and Lord-knows-what-else doesn't get in the way). But I must partly concede your point about Michael's narrative requiring a male protagonist.

The problem though that the process that Rockstar goes through appears to involve circular reasoning. Once they decide to tell a particular kind of story, they are almost bound to use a particular kind of character. I wonder whether if there were more female voices in the room they would decide to tell a different kind of story.

What disappoints me though is that Rockstar can be pretty brave when they want to be. The decision to create a black protagonist for GTA: San Andreas, and to set the story in the 'Boys in the Hood' 90s, was a bold one at the time. So too was the decision to develop Red Dead Redemption; Western-themed games haven't exactly had the most illustrious track record.

It would have been nice if they had taken a similar punt with a female character this time around. As you say, they've already done a CJ/Franklin character...

EDIT: Just listened to the Conference Call, and I'm pleased to hear that I'm not alone on this.

Tom Bissell called GTA V the greatest a-hole simulator ever. While there are plenty of people (including on GWJ) who are playing it for the meta-commentary and to experience the sheer richness of the world and the interactions therein, far, far more people are apparently drawn to it and are playing it because of those great a-hole simulator qualities.

What's more, I wonder if there is a Venn diagram-type overlap between those groups. Listening to the buzz and reading comments, I can't help but think that some of the people who are professing to be playing this game for the richness of the story and the art-form envelope being pushed and whatnot, in fact are really enjoying watching the be*otches dance in the private room in the club and the freedom of busting people's ass*s in the streets. In other words, an essential case of a hipster claiming to be watching that 70s porn VHS tape only ironically.

A lot is being said about the present delivery of the story being a form of satire. In my view, the satire is definitely there, but it's by far not the main driver. If Rockstar is really laughing about anything at all, they are doing it while one their way to the bank. They may full well feel disdain and contempt for the most craven and crass forms of "the North American culture", but their work exploits and exacerbates it. Their meticulous awareness of this culture results in cynic repaging of it for sale, nothing more. And being such a massive cultural touchstone which the series are, they are only lowering the overall bar of the bad taste even lower.

Had a chat with a coworker about GTA V today.

He's in love, but doesn't really like Michael or Franklin. He loves playing as Trevor. Because he's "intelligent, articulate, and insane".

::headdesk::

So for those asking earlier about the target market, I found it in a 22 year old tech support dude.

Judging people based on the games they play is a slippery slope; we don't brook this nonsense when it's done by pundits telling us that videogames makes us killers, so how about not embracing it when it makes us feel morally superior?

McIrishJihad wrote:

Had a chat with a coworker about GTA V today.

He's in love, but doesn't really like Michael or Franklin. He loves playing as Trevor. Because he's "intelligent, articulate, and insane".

::headdesk::

So for those asking earlier about the target market, I found it in a 22 year old tech support dude.

He is right though. Trevor is by far the most interesting character precisely because he is written to be smart, intelligent and completely unpredictable. Michael and Franklin are kinda dull because we have seen them before. Although in the Michael character's defence we've probably not seen him in a computer game before, he's just ripped directly from The Sopranos.

TheHipGamer wrote:

Judging people based on the games they play is a slippery slope; we don't brook this nonsense when it's done by pundits telling us that videogames makes us killers, so how about not embracing it when it makes us feel morally superior?

I don't think anyone's said that GTA5 turns players into jerks. I think the notion is more that it's really well tailored for people who might already be jerks.

wordsmythe wrote:

I don't think anyone's said that GTA5 turns players into jerks. I think the notion is more that it's really well tailored for people who might already be jerks.

Just like this discussion!

wordsmythe wrote:
TheHipGamer wrote:

Judging people based on the games they play is a slippery slope; we don't brook this nonsense when it's done by pundits telling us that videogames makes us killers, so how about not embracing it when it makes us feel morally superior?

I don't think anyone's said that GTA5 turns players into jerks. I think the notion is more that it's really well tailored for people who might already be jerks.

That's really disappointing.

HipG, my intent was not to pass judgement on my coworker, just throwing out an anecdote to the discussion.

Disappointed in this whole discussion, when did we get all so high-and-mighty, it's just a game u_u

I think some people are so used to being "The One" in video games, chosen by fate to save the universe, that they are weirded out playing a guy like Trevor. Sort of forgetting the whole point of Grand Theft Auto is to run around stealing cars and causing mayhem.

Plus, whenever anything gets hugely popular there is inevitably a backlash.

Mex wrote:

Disappointed in this whole discussion, when did we get all so high-and-mighty, it's just a game u_u

*shrug*

What are you afraid is going to happen if people talk about games in this way? If you'd rather not look at something critically, why roll your eyes at people who do? You could just ... I don't know, carry on enjoying the games and not worry about it instead of telling folks to quit bringing it up.

I can only assume you feel you have something to lose since you keep making a point of saying the discussion isn't worth having. What happens if people keep talking about it? Seriously curious, your viewpoint is pretty common in the wider gaming discussion.

random elusive wrote:

I think some people are so used to being "The One" in video games, chosen by fate to save the universe, that they are weirded out playing a guy like Trevor. Sort of forgetting the whole point of Grand Theft Auto is to run around stealing cars and causing mayhem.

I'll have you know that my Trevor chases down thieves and returns stolen property as well as saving men from unfaithful women who are just using them.

Certis wrote:
Mex wrote:

Disappointed in this whole discussion, when did we get all so high-and-mighty, it's just a game u_u

*shrug*

What are you afraid is going to happen if people talk about games in this way? If you'd rather not look at something critically, why roll your eyes at people who do? You could just ... I don't know, carry on enjoying the games and not worry about it instead of telling folks to quit bringing it up.

I can only assume you feel you have something to lose since you keep making a point of saying the discussion isn't worth having. What happens if people keep talking about it? Seriously curious, your viewpoint is pretty common in the wider gaming discussion.

There's plenty of room for critical discussion, and for disagreement over how to interpret a game/book/whaever, without resorting to an implication of personal stake.

Looking at GTA V critically makes sense. However, what I'm reading is moralizing, not critical thought. Moreover, it's moralizing in a very specific and trendy way: it's applying a sort of third-wave feminist critique to the medium, reducing analysis of a game to an analysis of how it treats issues of gender and race. There's a disingenuousness here that's particularly frustrating, in that it feels more about negative self identification ("I'm not enjoying X, because X isn't a representation of an idea I agree with") rather than a serious question of whether X has anything to do with the critical framework being applied.

It's good that we, collectively, are thinking about how the hobby/industry both needs to and can evolve past its teenage-boy origins. However, in the same way that other art deserves to be judged on its merits and not through the lens of the critical framework du jour, claiming that a game is inherently inferior because it isn't working on that critical level is a terrible path to go down. It's the equivalent of taking an insufferable arthouse film buff to a mainstream action movie and having him or her complain the entire time about how ignorant YOU are, because The Avengers isn't a Bresson masterpiece.

We're better than that, or at least, I hope we are. I don't care one way or the other if you guys -- whom I enjoy reading and interacting with, and who I respect -- like or dislike a particular game. Whatever. But I do have an issue with this idea that liking GTA V represents some kind of psychological problem, and calling that out isn't the same as telling people to "quit bringing it up".

I don't get it: GWJ has, for the time I've been here, been a place where we're all cool with having deeper-than-usual discussions about this thing we all like. This thread seems to be out of character with that, on a number of levels.

We're better than that, or at least, I hope we are. I don't care one way or the other if you guys -- whom I enjoy reading and interacting with, and who I respect -- like or dislike a particular game. Whatever. But I do have an issue with this idea that liking GTA V represents some kind of psychological problem, and calling that out isn't the same as telling people to "quit bringing it up".

I was referring to Mex, that's why I quoted him. He's asking why it's being talked about. Period. You're misapplying my post to what you're doing, which is intelligently addressing an issue you have with issues others are having. I have no problems with any of that.

I have a serious problem with people entering discussions to say in so many words "Hey, this isn't important, stop talking about it."

Not saying that's Mex's intention, but that's what it reads like to me. That's why I'd like to understand better where he's coming from.

TheHipGamer wrote:

I don't get it: GWJ has, for the time I've been here, been a place where we're all cool with having deeper-than-usual discussions about this thing we all like. This thread seems to be out of character with that, on a number of levels.

I'm always fascinated when this kind of "hand-wringing" about what GWJ is becoming comes up. It's invariably when someone is feeling like a perceived majority disagrees with their views on a certain topic or overall trend. There's no GWJ hive mind throwing people out either directly or passively. Talking about "what GWJ has become" is a bit like stubbing your toe and wondering what's become of your house.

Certis wrote:
We're better than that, or at least, I hope we are. I don't care one way or the other if you guys -- whom I enjoy reading and interacting with, and who I respect -- like or dislike a particular game. Whatever. But I do have an issue with this idea that liking GTA V represents some kind of psychological problem, and calling that out isn't the same as telling people to "quit bringing it up".

I was referring to Mex, that's why I quoted him. He's asking why it's being talked about. Period. You're misapplying my post to what you're doing, which is intelligently addressing an issue you have with issues others are having. I have no problems with any of that.

I have a serious problem with people entering discussions to say in so many words "Hey, this isn't important, stop talking about it."

Not saying that's Mex's intention, but that's what it reads like to me. That's why I'd like to understand better where he's coming from.

That's fair, and mea culpa. I took it as a more general reference, and in hindsight, without cause.

Certis wrote:
TheHipGamer wrote:

I don't get it: GWJ has, for the time I've been here, been a place where we're all cool with having deeper-than-usual discussions about this thing we all like. This thread seems to be out of character with that, on a number of levels.

I'm always fascinated when this kind of "hand-wringing" about what GWJ is becoming comes up. It's invariably when someone is feeling like a perceived majority disagrees with their views on a certain topic or overall trend. There's no GWJ hive mind throwing people out either directly or passively. Talking about "what GWJ has become" is a bit like stubbing your toe and wondering what's become of your house.

My view is that the comments here, from a group I think of as being thoughtful and insightful in general and associate with via GWJ exclusively, are unusual and somewhat unpleasant to encounter. I could have phrased it differently; I don't know what comprises the site or its community on a macro level, and was not intended to levy some kind of criticism at it changing. I am being critical of the viewpoints expressed upthread, and no more.

Certis wrote:
Mex wrote:

Disappointed in this whole discussion, when did we get all so high-and-mighty, it's just a game u_u

*shrug*

What are you afraid is going to happen if people talk about games in this way? If you'd rather not look at something critically, why roll your eyes at people who do? You could just ... I don't know, carry on enjoying the games and not worry about it instead of telling folks to quit bringing it up.

I can only assume you feel you have something to lose since you keep making a point of saying the discussion isn't worth having. What happens if people keep talking about it? Seriously curious, your viewpoint is pretty common in the wider gaming discussion.

I ain't afraid of no thing, mister, except ghosts

Nah but Hip gets it, and I suppose my limited english language skill is the problem. He kind of explains how I see it. Ok since it's a Founder Callout, I'll try to explain, keep in mind that I'd never tell anyone to stop discussing anything (specially on a gaming *discussion* forum). Hope I don't confuse you more...

Since you asked, the thing that disappoints me here... When I say "It's just a game" I don't mean stop talking about it, I love games and obviously talking about them, or listening to people talk about them. I guess I mean "High and mighty" in the style of "Heh, obviously EVERYONE playing this is an asshole, this is an asshole simulator, but not ME because here are all my problems with it... In fact, I'm not even gonna play it but I'm certainly going to judge everyone who does". It's not just this game, happens with Call of Duty and Gears of War and, well, every game probably, it just doesn't happen here, I thought.

I get this tone that, just because you're not complaining about GTA not having a woman or loudly expressing that the characters are all horrible people, that you're part of this "Dumb Ass Gamer Stereotype" (Or as you say the popular viewpoint in the wider gaming discussion). Reviewers are all Hey I'm playing this but I'm too mature to enjoy it, ok? Listen I'm running and killing all these dudes, but damn it this main character has no vagina, and THAT'S my problem with it.

If I was worried about anything, is that we're growing old and turning into the dudes that thought Doom would train everyone to be a killer and make satanic rituals. I don't understand where's the morality when reviewing other games. And then you turn off the game and go enjoy Breaking Bad.

I don't even like open world games, man...