Grand Theft Auto (GTA) 4 – taking games seriously

Grand Theft Auto (GTA) 4 went on sale today with an 18 rating and is expected to make £200 million in its first week.

With big money and even bigger age ratings, computer games stopped being the preserve of teenage nerds since the 90s, when Sony released its Playstation and aggressively pursued adults with its advertising.

Nowadays, a Playstation sits inconspicuously next to a DVD player or stereo system.

But there was a time – I certainly remember – when you had to ask your parent’s permission to plug your console into the back of the telly for a few hours of precious gameplay.

But make no mistake: video games, as a medium of entertainment, are now on equal footing with films.

Mirroring that trend, so is the range and depth of content video games portray.

And yet, when a film is released with an 18 certificate, it doesn’t receive half the moral outrage a video game does with an equivalent rating.

Does the public perception of video games being just “juvenile entertainment” require a rethink?

Judging by the obvious angle of this BBC video report, which focuses exclusively on Grand Theft Auto’s rating controversy, it does.

The report barely touches on the fact that computer games are a billion dollar industry, where adults form a large section of customers.

It could have used the game’s release as an opportunity to explore whether public attitudes to video game violence are justified, given the age profile of people who now buy games.

It could have moved the debate forward, but didn’t.

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posted by JP at 10:13 pm  

People I know

Interview I conducted with Second Life creator Philip Rosedale on stepping down as CEO of Second Life.

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posted by JP at 12:32 am  

Long time dead

I’ve finished writing a script for issue two of the London Horror Comic and boy did it take some time. When you hit writer’s block, everything comes out either trite or shit, or worse, something in between.

Desperately wanting to get a script finished just for the sake of finishing can obscure your objectiveness about whether what you’ve written is any good. But you have to be brutal when assessing your work, because if you don’t, who will?

Anyway, enough pontificating. The resultant script is pure fun and a real page turner, if I do say so myself. I’ll post some art up as it becomes available.

The last month has had its fair share of good reads, films and music. These include:

1. The Book of Revelation – really atmospheric and scary. The director turns the most mundane scene of a guy out walking for cigarettes into something unnerving and unsettling.
2. Paul Arden’s excellent book “Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite.” The premise is that making the same decisions as everyone else – the right, always well-informed decisions – will lead you to exactly the same place as everyone else. By making decisions which are riskier, you increase your chances of breaking from the heard.
3. Soulwax’s ‘Most of the Remixes’ – A bit late on the bandwagon with this, but damn it if they don’t produce the most bizarre and fresh take on remixes.

More to come this week as time permits.

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posted by JP at 10:03 pm