The Oscar Goes To…

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.


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  • 15 Thoughts on “The Oscar Goes To…

    1. Bold claims. Comparisons to the “finest films” of Scorcese and Coppola? Has this guy SEEN those films? These are some of the greatest films of all time (“The Godfather I and II, Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now, Good Fellas, Taxi Driver, the list goes on).

      If the assertion is actually true, then I’ve got to find a way to play this game. But my assumption is that this is hyperbole.

    2. turff on April 30, 2008 at 2:39 pm said:

      I’ll let you know. While this would not normally be my cup of tea, I have been sufficiently intrigued to consider trying in out.

    3. Is it for PS3? We’ve got a PS3, and very few games (the kids mostly play Rock Band).

    4. When they finally make a video game based on Last Year at Marianbad, I’m in.

    5. Actually, there was a while there when you couldn’t drag me away from Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour 2008.

    6. A video games based on:

      8 1/2?
      The Decalogue?

    7. I avoid the violent games. I would be lost. As Yeats would say, there’s a rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem, waiting to be born…Best not to let that happen.


      Turning and turning in the widening gyre
      The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      Surely some revelation is at hand;
      Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
      The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
      When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
      Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
      A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
      A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
      Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
      Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
      The darkness drops again but now I know
      That twenty centuries of stony sleep
      Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
      And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
      Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    9. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.”

      Sounds familiar?

    10. turff on April 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm said:

      In the event that you do not read a full review of this game, it is extremely, graphically violent. The series is also well known for its treatment of sex, drugs, and corruption as well. IOW, if you are buying it for anyone besides your adult self, do so well informed.

    11. the NYT review was fairly ecstatic, describing it as hilarious social satire.

      An interesting parallel idea here.

    12. I know next to nothing about video games. Is this anything at all like Galaga?

    13. See what I did there, with the computer jargon gag?

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