|Always remember: If it makes lots of money, it is perfect and immune to criticism.|
To catch you up: There's a game called Grand Theft Auto V. Maybe you've heard of it. Like all games in the series, you commit horrible, violent crimes. Arguably, in V, those crimes tend to be a bit more on the gruesome, appalling scale than in earlier games.
Reviews are coming out. Greg Tito of the Escapist gave the game the shocking, war-crime level rating of 3.5 stars out of 5, saying "only buy Grand Theft Auto V if you're prepared to play as characters with no justifiable motivation for doing awful things to people."
Predictably, their forums exploded into haterage, as a huge portion of gamers are nothing but giant, ambulatory, exposed nerves mainly good for the spraying of spite.
So Greg Tito had to back up the largely obvious, expected, self-evident points he made earlier with a long follow-up article. It's worthy reading.
Man, I loves me some good internet drama. It's like fudge. I can eat it all day. Keeps me from working. But ...
|oh god why am i trying so tired so tired|
A Few Sanity Comments
1. Evaluating the worth of a work of art with a number, a clump of stars, or the positioning of one's thumb is completely arbitrary and useless. We know that, right? Ignore it. You can't judge a work of art with a number. It's not like there's some Art Scale you can put art on and weigh it and say, "This weighs 7.32 Arts, so it's good."
2. The point of a critic is to criticize. Anyone in our developing art form who actually tries to stand up and make real points is worth applauding, even if we don't agree.
3. If you, as a critic, don't ever make a bunch of people angry at you, you're wasting your time. If you're never challenging anyone, why are you bothering?
4. Also, ProTip: When a carefully reasoned comment makes someone angry, that means you're on the right track. When you are being calm and thoughtful and people still rage at you, it means you hit a nerve that probably needed hitting.
5. As the art form matures, you have to expect that really egregious crap is going to get called out more and more. Sure, you're allowed to make a game that's morally repellent. But realize, as gamers grow up, have kids, and start to lose family members, they’re learning just how funny death isn't. The voices saying, "Why are the biggest, most glorious, most expensive worlds in the game industry being used for such a horrific end?" are only going to get louder.
6. This just makes me appreciate Saints Row IV so much more. Practically all of the comical violence in it is directed against evil, invading aliens or computer simulations. Makes it go down easier for us olds. And, yes, I am plausibly pointing out Saints Row as the sane, mature option, which is how we know that the world has gone mad.
7. A lot of the comments claim everything Greg Tito says is invalid forever because he gave Dragon Age II 5 stars out of 5. One, if you're wrong once, it doesn't mean you can't be right 500 times after that. And, two, read Sanity Comment #1 again.
8. That Grand Theft Auto V depicts what it does and yet is as popular as it is is very interesting. I think it says something about us as people. And I'm not about to get all liberal and sensitive and say that it's something inherently bad. I think the game addresses less the desire to do wrong and more a deeper, fundamental frustration. Not sure. Just a hunch. Bears more thought.
9. Finally. If we are going to assign numerical values to represent the value of a work of art in a storytelling medium (which we shouldn't, because it's dumb and useless), it is necessary to take the quality of the story into account. I mean, right?
Yeah, I'll probably play GTA V one of these days. For as long as I can stand it, anyway. It sounds like a stunning technical accomplishment, the sort of thing a game designer has to play to keep one's skills current. I just dream of a day when the most technically spectacular games can be played with my kids in the room.