I recall a conversational thread some time ago, continued if not initiated at our first gathering, regarding the possibility of disruptive forces to more commonly accepted modalities of “art”. In particular, we discussed the relevance of Red vs. Blue (Halo machinima) and Rock Band as potential players. While I recall little support for that particular idea, I do recall there being some support for the idea that the video game may be trespassing on the territory of film making in some interesting ways. Given that discussion, I found this particular para in a review for the recently released game Grand Theft Auto IV to be particularly interesting.
Like E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime,” GTA IV presents a number of characters that are all chasing that elusive dream, be it finding true love, building a successful business, or just staying one step ahead of the competition. While the game looks like a fairly run-of-the-mill crime drama at first glance, it won’t take long for it to get under your skin and stick with you even while you’re not playing. You’ll quickly come to realize that the nuanced storytelling and presentation is on par with the finest films by directors like Martin Scorcese or Francis Ford Coppola, both of whom know a thing or two about the criminal element of society and their American Dreams. Although it may not change the minds of non-gamers (we’re looking at you, Mr. Ebert), GTA4 should be labeled Exhibit A in the “Games as Art” debate.