Casual Friday: GTA Bore

In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, here are a few great new ways to kill what little free time you think you have this weekend and beyond.

GTA's Softer Side

Search for "Grand Theft Auto IV" and Google spits back about 37,400,000 hits. Included in that flood of verbiage are multitudes of glowing reviews as well as screeds from hack reporters, politicians, and wannabe pundits blaming GTA for the end of Western civilization. What the heck can I say that hasn't been said already?

One of the many midnight lines that formed in various U.S. cities to grab GTA, ASAP. (Photo courtesy of William Lamont O'Neal)
Visiting virtual strip clubs ("just like being there - minus the vanilla scent"), doing drugs, driving drunk, carjacking, committing other random felonies...not me, no sir!

I came to this country for a fresh start. I go to work. I sit around the house watching TV. I hit the Internet, and maybe find a girl to date. That's right, I'm living in a fully functional city simulator and keeping my nose clean. You got a problem with that?

First thing about my lame lifestyle: It's slow. When you refuse to carjack or blow through red lights, and you get stuck driving a cab to earn bucks, time crawls. Most times, when I'm not trying to help old ladies cross the street, I'm constantly tempted to rip someone from their car. Then, when I do finally get behind the wheel, it takes me a couple of minutes to go two blocks, what with the traffic lights and the terrible drivers. Where'd these guys get their licenses, anyhow?!?

Here I am, enjoying a lazy afternoon in my digital living room.
After a long day of transporting fares, go turn on the tube. In the game. Talk shows, comedy acts, commercials, "reality" TV - I'm sitting here, crashing on my real-world couch, watching all this stuff in a virtual living room on a TV inside my TV. An hour later, I've forgotten that I'm still playing a game.

Then, there's my virtual babe, Michelle. Nice girl. We've gone out a couple times. We've played darts, shot a game of pool, bowled...but the second I took her to the cabaret show, she's giving me the stink-eye. Sheesh! Now I have to get back on her good side. Don't I get enough of this in the real world?

GTA is a lot less glamorous when you get stuck at traffic lights.
Back to work (virtually). At least just driving around town is relatively easy. Behind the wheel, I can soak in how amazingly detailed and alive Liberty City feels. I could explore all the...BAM!

I guess I must have zoned out because I slammed through a pedestrian crossing at a red light. Right in front of a cop, no less. Great. The patrol car's lights start blaring, and I...just snap. I can't go to jail! Carving through side streets and accidentally hitting a couple more people, leading an impromptu hyperspeed parade of flashing, wailing cop cars as they follow in hot pursuit.

In a last ditch effort to shake 'em, I jump a ramp and splash down my car in a public pool, Dukes of Hazard style. And it's damn fun.

This game isn't inherently good or evil. Like life, it just is--and your actions determine how things play out. So if you want to point fingers for all the ills of this simulated society, my advice is: Wake up and smell the vanilla. The guy to blame is the one holding the gamepad. You want to blame GTA for corrupting America? Get in line.

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