Adventures of a Non-Gamer: GTA IV
by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)
I really shouldn’t be writing this as the anger has yet to fully subside. But I’m all about taking risks, so here’s my attempt to proceed rationally. We’ll see how it goes. It all started with a simple assignment — play Grand Theft Auto IV, write about Grand Theft Auto IV. Simple enough, right? Wrong. In my case, this was so entirely wrong.
My complete inability to function in this game caused a very real anger that I have not experienced in my gaming adventures thus far. The worst part is this: my original gaming coaches, little brothers Jordan and Peter, were present throughout the struggles I encountered. I would love to think that they could actually help me in some small way, but the truth is they made it five million times worse.
I don’t have the typical complaints you would hear from the game’s usual opponents — violence, blah, blah, blah. Of course it’s a violent game, it says so on the box. What it doesn’t say on the box is “make sure you have a double doctorate in joystick sensitivity and following detailed maps while driving in the worst possible conditions a person could ever drive in.” In college I almost majored in both of these subjects, which would have been helpful today. But instead, I choose English. There were no poems in Liberty City, you guys.
My first hint of trouble ahead was an innocent comment from Peter.
“GTA 5 comes out in September.”
He stared at me blankly. Apparently GTA is the game I was playing. How am I supposed to know what all of these signs and symbols mean? But Shawn, you might argue, GTA isn’t a sign or a symbol, it’s a collection of letters. I mean, okay. Just call it what the game is titled and we could have avoided this whole conversation.
This was a minor snafu and didn’t hinder my excitement to get started. What happened next was a blur of deaths, speeding vehicles (so many vehicles), cops yelling things at me, aggressive camera angle shifts, maps that didn’t make sense, joystick mix-ups, and Russian accents that could have been coming from my character — I’m not even sure which guy I was to be completely honest. It was a horrific nightmare. I mean, if you had told me “your entire family will die if you can’t get from point A to point B without hitting 139 cars and 80 light poles on the way,” I would have carried the guilt of their short lives on my shoulders for all of eternity. I could not even turn around in the street. I ran into more fences than I even knew could exist in a game. I once missed the same turn eight times, turning around and around and missing it every time.
At one point Jordan lost it:
“HOW DO YOU EVEN DRIVE IN REAL LIFE? HOW ARE YOU STILL ALIVE? NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN THIS BAD AT ANYTHING EVER!”
Um, calm down. That was a tad harsh, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because he had just told me to get off of Liberty Rock. In response, I hastily changed lanes and hung a quick left. Apparently, he was talking about the radio station and I had just gotten off of the only correct route I had been on all day.
“I thought Liberty Rock was the name of the highway,” I offered.
“You think I know the names of the streeeeeettssssss?! AHHHHHH!” he screamed.
I thought I might need to call an ambulance or something. He was a turning reddish purple with hints of blue.
Peter found the whole thing quite entertaining and honestly didn’t get angry until I said that I didn’t want to kill anyone in the game. They swiftly concluded that I was the first person to ever play Grand Theft Auto without killing anyone. (On purpose, that is). Why would I want to run over innocent pedestrians who are minding their own business?
In any event, I didn’t expect this game to be as difficult as it was. Something about it didn’t compute with my brain, and I manage to thoroughly amaze people with how terrible I was. What can I say? I’m not cut out for a life of crime. Maybe I’ll try it again someday. Probably not though. And by probably, I mean definitely.
Happy gaming, you gamers!