For a couple of years now, the Grand Theft Auto franchise has become internationally infamous for it’s mature content. The media loves to bash it, parent like to blame it and Jack Thompson want’s the Take Two CEO’s mother to feel sorry about it.
After spending a good amount of time in GTA IV, I realised that there are some really good lessons that we can learn from playing the game. So I decided to make a short list and discuss a few of these important life lessons, in no particular order.
GTA Life Lesson No.1: Driving when you’re hammered is a pretty bad idea
When news of the ability to drive when drunk in GTA IV got around, the faeces really hit the air-conditioner. The media was all over it and still are, calling it irresponsible and reckless.
On the contrary, GTA has shown me exactly how bad an idea it actually is. The first time I did one of the drinking side missions, I climbed into a car and attempted to drive, I realised very quickly that it wasn’t the best idea I had ever had. Not only does the game do a great job of representing the effects of heavy drinking, it made me actually want to hurl as my vision blurred and my view bobbed up, down, left and right. When I finally arrived, my car was smashed up and I had a couple of cops trying to pull me over. From now on, if I have to take one of my in-game buddies drinking, I call a cab.
Don’t drink and drive, not only do you endanger your own life, but the lives of your passengers as well as pedestrians and other motorists. You risk damaging your vehicle, or even writing it, and yourself, off. If you haven’t already organised a designated driver, call a cab to collect you from your drinking hole. If that isn’t an option, organise for a friend or family member to come and get you instead.
GTA Life Lesson No.2: If you take care of your friends, your friends will take care of you.
For their fourth installment of the three dimensional GTA franchise, Rockstar added a system whereby you gain new friends, are able to hang out with them and even benefit from the friendship.
The friends system in GTA IV can get annoying to some, but isn’t that how things work in real life? If one of your buddies invites you out and you turn them down, they will understand. Do it over and over again and the friendship will slowly start to crumble, especially if you don’t bother to ever give them a call either.
People benefit from their friendships, be it company, assistance or some brown sugar. If in GTA, your friendship with one of the characters grows, you can also gain special benefits. Some friends will send help, others will come and collect you if you need a ride, things that aren’t uncommon in everyday life.
Take care of your buddies and in most cases, they will return the favour. Ignore them and they will start to fade away. If you’re the type of guy who is always happy to help a buddy out, chances are that when your in trouble, one of your buddies will be there to give a hand.
GTA Life Lesson No.3: Don’t mess with the Po-Po
Pigs, Cops, the Fuzz, call em’ what you want, the police are no joke in the real world. Mess with them and you are going to be in a world of doggy doo-doo.
In GTA, you run into the police a lot. In some cases, you get away. In some, you don’t. Now most of us aren’t going to be pulling out our nine’s and popping caps into a couple of fools on the freeway, but looking for any sort of trouble can deliver you straight into a run-in with the police and what I have realised is that if you are looking for trouble, you are going to find it and in the real world, there is no such thing as a respawn.
GTA IV has bumped up police activity significantly. Frankly, they are everywhere and if you do something stupid, they are going to come after you. Resist and they will make your life a lot worse, if not shorter. The fantasy of running from the police in a high speed car chase is one that is portrayed in GTA a lot, giving you the opportunity to lose them and laugh as they wonder where you went. In real life, the same situation would have us shaking in our boots as we lay face down on the floor to avoid any sort of complications. Watching reality TV has show us exactly what happens to the fools who run from the cops, they get owned, hard.
Don’t be an idiot. If police arrive for any reason, be it your stupidity or someone else’s, don’t get in their way. If you are the fool in question, keep your rights in mind, but don’t cause unnecessary trouble. Run and you are screwed, fight back and you are screwed even more, it’s that simple. GTA has done a great job of letting us know that running from the cops can be an exhilarating experience and I sure hope it is and that you enjoy it, because it will probably be your last. If you do manage to keep your car out of the river and the bullets out of your lungs, you can look forward to a lovely vacation in the chookie where big burly men will take you on romantic dates and sing Barry White to you in the showers.
These are just a few of the things that I have learnt from my experience with GTA IV. If you have any more that you want to share, leave it in the comments. This game clearly hasn’t been designed as the murder simulator that people make it out to be. For example, you can be a cab driver, put fires out, help fight crime not to mention go bowling with buddies. Granted, Niko Bellic ain’t no saint, but he values his friendships and takes care of his family.
Hell will freeze over the day I see a news article that reads “New Grand Theft Auto videogame teaches people to value their friendships and family”. Obviously no one will ever do that, but if they are allowed to only focus on the violence, then surely it’s not wrong of anyone to only focus on the good things every once in a while.
I wont be holding my breath.
Last Updated: May 12, 2008