GTA: Helping Our Messy Universe Make Sense

It’s 1986. I’m cruising down to Ocean Beach in my super car and it’s a pandemonium of bikini wrapped honies on the sidewalk and the sun is all superstellar orange above the still palms. Judas Priest is blasting out of my car’s massive sound system.

 It’s also 2003 and I’m ten years old and sitting on a boxy blue beanbag in front of the TV. I get out of the car and stick a chainsaw in a bloke walking his dog along the beach front just for the sheer hell of it.

 Those were the days. Those are probably my strongest early memories of video games, chasing wumpa fruit like a maniac in Crash Bandicoot aside. The world has completely changed since GTA: Vice City came out, since I sat on my beanbag all day hitting people with a golf club and then running away from the cops.

 We live in an invisible, non-linear universe with a galaxy sized attention deficit. It’s almost tediously pregnant with contradiction. Ease and speed of use makes the Internet one of man’s most impressive social lubricants and one of it’s most alienating. The whole thing is ostensibly transparent, almost platonically so and yet the network is controlled by shadowy security agencies and fantastically large private corporations, both following their own secret agendas.

 It makes a perverse kind of sense that the only product capable of gathering these broken shards of culture and forming a fearful symmetry out of them is a video game series.

 When the historians of America put pen to paper in a couple of hundred years (well not pen to paper probably but you know what I mean) they may ask who best satirized the hegemony. The novels of Philip Roth or Jonathan Franzen perhaps? Jon Stewart’s Daily Show? The life and times of Paris Hilton (an unknowing satire, that one)? The Simpsons?


 The most adroit skewering of life in the American empire is to be found in a Scottish video game series. One wonders if Alex Salmond realizes that the most valuable export his country has isn’t whisky or North Sea oil but a game that revolves around robbing banks and pimping out hoes.

 I don’t really ‘do’ games either. I would usually much rather slop around with a book or go and shout obscenities at overpaid footballers down in Shepherds Bush. I haven’t read anything about GTA V; I’ve ignored the trailers, the reviews and the accompanying moral outrage (I am going to assume it exists).

 Nevertheless I have ordered it. Of course I’ve ordered it. I am after all a male under the age of 45.

 Without knowing anything about it I know that this ‘game’ will not only meet but better my wildest expectations.  It will be like swimming through a kaleidoscopic dream demulcent poured out of the minds of Richard Nixon, Hunter S. Thompson and Tony Montana.

I use the future tense because my copy has not arrived. My current most hated phrase in the English language is ‘NOT YET DISPATCHED’. 


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