Stephen Duncombe’s 3rd chapter of Dream: Reimagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy discusses why we play violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (GTA). According to Duncombe, although GTA allows us to kill and steal as much as we want, we play it because it allows us to identify with something we aren’t, “an action-packing [black] stereotype… the mythic gangbanger of a thousand and one rap songs which glorify thug life (Duncombe 55).
It allows us to embrace difference, to understand and feel how other races and culture interact in a fictional world. Playing violent video games such as GTA also feeds our hidden desire to rebel, to stick it to the man through crime and violence.
I disagree and agree with Duncombe’s assessment on why we play video games such as GTA. I believe that game designer Greg Costikyan is correct in saying that these games are successful because of their “open-ended well-realized world” (Duncombe 64) and gameplay. We don’t play these games to become a black stereotype. In fact there are many games that allows the player to become a character that quite possibly no one wants to be. For example, in Lester The Unlikely, the player controls a stereotypical teen nerd complete with big glasses and face acne. Other games have the main character trapped in a creepy house with a murder loose.
The story of a game is also quite important, however I believe we stay for the gameplay and not anything else. I once played a zombie video game in where the story was not done well and I didn’t really know who I was playing as, nor did I care. however I enjoyed the gameplay and kept playing because of it.