Monday, March 29, 2010

Playing for Keeps


Back in May of 2006, I wrote a piece for this site and the Huffington Post that was inspired by a pretty unusual experience and which attempted to convey that same feeling in the most expressive way possible to readers.

In a column called "Second Thug Life," I tried to dissect all the fuss over a video game that had recently been released and was racking up unheard-of sales figures. I'm talking about Grand Theft Auto IV. The piece started with a first-person description of the game through the eyes of its main character, Niko Bellic. I did this for a simple reason -- because I'd been playing GTA4 since its street date and found it to be, in no uncertain terms, the most immersive video game I'd ever seen. Something so breathtaking that it was tough to fully wrap my brain around it. Play long enough and you get lost in the expansive, gorgeously rendered world of Liberty City and in the character of Niko Bellic and his journey from cautious, fresh-off-the-boat immigrant to the criminal underworld's last man standing. Yeah, it sounds crazy -- unless you've actually experienced it.

Well, an article in the Guardian from a couple of weeks ago took the basic premise of what I wrote and literally pumped it full of speed -- and the result is both engrossing and disturbing.

The Guardian UK: "Video Games: The Addiction" by Tom Bissel/3.21.10

DXM: Second Thug Life/5.6.08

5 comments:

Germain said...

A LITTLE LIKE THE PREMISE OF THE NOVEL INFINITE JEST BY DAVID FOSTER WALLACE.

DragonIV said...

It comes like across like a hatchet job on the game. The game didn't make him do drugs, but you certainly might get that idea reading this piece.

L. said...

Man I wish he'd have been playing something like Animal Crossing on coke instead of GTA.

Alanna said...

GTA is literally + figuratively an addiction. I think my ex once spent (no joke) 18 hours STRAIGHT playing GTA. Oh, and he was most certainly blazed out of his gourd the entire time.

Another game I have watched grown men abandon all basic needs for is Call of Duty or Gears of War. 4 men, huddled in my living room on reclining leather couches, beer in the cup holder 4 controllers going for 12 hours straight. Days a time.

Santini Stadium said...

I understand the addiction feeling. It's much like a really good book; you don't want to put it down, you want to see what's around the next corner.

Is it sad, though, that after I finished the story-mode of Grand Theft Auto IV, I decided that my time would best be spent hi-jacking buses and slamming into gridlock traffic in the virtual New York (aka Liberty City)? Because, I don't.