The Line

I’ve murdered in Assassin’s Creed. I’ve turned to the dark side in KOTR. I’ve been a thief in Oblivion and I’ve completely wiped out entire species of aliens countless times! Yet there are some things that I just won’t do in video games or rather in certain video games.

I have absolutely no interest in the Grand Theft Auto series simply because I have no desire to play a game where the main objectives all involve committing crimes, even virtual ones. But I’ve commited crimes in other games so why not in GTA?

Where do I draw the line? Does it depend on the setting or genre of the game? Probably.

I’m more tolerent of violence in games if they are set either in the past or in the far future. Crimes against monsters or aliens are fine. Killing humans? Hmm. Am I fighting for truth and justice? Are they part of an evil organisation trying to take over the world? Did they attack me first? Do they have a bigger gun or sword than me?

I don’t think that I have a particularly prudish attitude towards violence. I recognise that it’s a key component in, not only a lot of my favourite films and books but also many of my favourite games. I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to blood and gore but that’s not really where I have a problem with GTA. It’s the focus on criminal activities that’s the main turn-off.

Yes, I like to play by the rules. I automatically take the good path in games if there is a choice to make. There was no way I was ever going to harvest a Little Sister in Bioshock. I was an extremely heroic dictator in Overlord. Even those games where I’ve strayed a little, when it’s come to the time to make the big, crunch decisions I’ve always chosen the “right” one.

The original Knights of the Old Republic was probably the only game where I managed to play “evil” all the way through. Well, mostly. And it really was more of a “comic book evil” anyway. After playing through “good” the first time it was certainly fun to see how the story played out differently when I chose the Sith route. I loved how my character’s appearance gradually changed to reflect my evil actions. One of my complaints about Bioware’s latest title, Mass Effect is that I never felt that my actions made any real impact on the game world or the ongoing storyline. Yes, I know there was that a bit of the end that impacted on the future of the council but that’s about the only major event I can think of. I suppose that’s the problem with a trilogy. You can’t let the player destroy the main story arc or you give yourself too much work to do in the sequels.

So back to Grand Theft Auto IV. On the whole, modern day setting games really don’t appeal to me but probably all it would take for me to accept the game would be to frame it differently. If my character was an undercover cop working to shut down a criminal organisation from the inside then perhaps I’d be more interested.

I would imagine that the chances of a demo of the game are unlikely. That game will sell itself to most people. I keep hearing about lots of cool features in GTA IV that I’d love to try out. At the moment, though, they’re not enough to tempt me to put aside my long-standing prejudices and actually spend money on a copy.

In a way I’m a little sad that I won’t pick up GTA. It’s going to be a bit strange knowing that virtually every one else is playing it. I’m probably going to feel really left out! Maybe there’s a “haven’t played GTA” club I could join?

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