Last week’s class was about videogames. When asked what the last game I played was, I replied with Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. This is also the answer to the question: what is your favorite game of all time? I have been playing this game ever since it came out in 2004. Back then, it was an unbelievable realistic game and the graphics were astounding. To me, the fact that I can still spent hours playing it means that the game is of very high quality.
In 2004 I was 8 years old. I played the game at my cousins’ place at loved it from the start. When I think back about it, I was actually quite young to play such a game. Games from the GTA (short for Grand Theft Auto) series caused for quite some controversy because of the high level of violent, sexual and narcotic related content of the games. I did not turn out to be a violent psychopath so the myth that children become violent because of violent game like GTA is not true, or at least in my case it isn’t. When I played the game in my younger years, all I cared for was roaming in the huge map that this game has. Driving a stolen sport car and blasting my favorite fictional radio channel while being chased by 5 police cars. Later when I was older and could understand some English, I wanted to actually do the missions that you could to in this game.
A year ago, I started playing the game again out of nostalgic sentiment and it was a great decision. To those who don’t know the game, GTA San Andreas is a game where you play the main character: CJ. CJ (short for Carl Johnson) is a man that goes back to the city he came from: Los Santos. There, he get involved with gangs, corrupt police officers, organized crime cartels and many other dangerous people. You have to perform ‘missions’ to make money and to gain ‘respect’. You can freely roam in the fictional city Los Santos and later also the cities San Fierro and Las Venturas. These cities are based on the cities Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. The cities, cars, characters and a lot more are based in a fictional world but are all based on things in the real world.
Actually, the game goes a little bit further than that. The fictional world you play in is not only a fictional version of the United States, it is actually a satirical version of the U.S. This was something I did not notice when I was younger. When I started playing this game again at an older age, I could understand what the fictional characters, radio DJs and billboards in the game meant. For me, the most interesting of these are the radio stations and the fictional ads and talk shows that are ‘broadcasted’ on them. They are actually all satirical versions of things that you could have heard on a U.S nineties radio station. The developers of the game used satirical ads and talk shows to make fun of, or address the stereotypes of the U.S such as the love for guns, paranoia, hysteria and capitalist hyper consumerism but also more darker humor about racism, xenophobia, drug addiction and violence.
The combination of the for that time high quality graphics, satire, game story and the extremely good choice of music makes me love this game, even though I don’t see myself as a ‘real gamer’ at all.