When the game Grand Theft Auto V comes to mind, many of us can only help but think of the franchise’s many old provocative, violent games that have many questionable themes. The experience that I have had with Grand Theft Auto V has always been something of enjoyment, as when I played, I had a great time experiencing the game’s many unique aspects with my friend through online play, and I had also thoroughly enjoyed the game because of the vast landscape created that is put in front of me to explore. When I approached this theme of art, and the question of whether a certain game can be art or not, I pondered the multiple visual aspects of the Grand Theft Auto V, and wondered if these aspects truly made it out to be an art piece. Thinking of Grand Theft Auto V in artsy perspective is the last thing I thought I would be doing while playing this video game, but if we ignore the game’s story element, and certain game mechanics, I can say with utmost agreement that Grand Theft Auto V is indeed art.
But what makes a piece art? Well first if we are to go purely out of what we see with our eyes in a game, we’re going to look at the graphics of the game, which is indeed beautiful (but not as beautiful as it could look due to my laptop’s lacking video and processing power). The idea of art has always been something of aesthetic, aka the outward look of something and how pleasing it is to the eye and the graphics of a game also go well into this idea of art and the aesthetics of something. According to Walter Benjamin as well, we can see that there are two different viewpoints of art from his perspective, that being something is reproduced, and originals, where he says that “Even the most perfect reproduction of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space…” (Benjamin 29). But this idea of something reproduced and original gives us this unique idea of aura, which is an important element in art which makes the art’s presence in time and space. Putting this idea of the aura of art forward, we can also combine it with the idea of the reader’s interpretation from Barthes where he states that “the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author” (Barthes 6).
These ideas of aura and interpretation of the reader can be put hand in hand when looking at Grand Theft Auto V in an art perspective. There are many places in the world’s landscape to show just how much the environment is art, by looking at specific locations during specific times in the game. The aura that is made by the game’s time system and weather system truly creates a piece of art when overlooking the land, as actively playing it you get a truly immersive experience in the game’s environments that are art not only because of the visually pleasing aesthetic to the human eye, but also because of the aura that is created by the game’s engine of time and weather. Although, this art perspective of Grand Theft Auto V is only created by our interpretations as “readers.” When playing, and observing in this game, we throw away some of the author’s intentions of this game thereby “killing” off the author, but in this process, we also have the birth of the “reader” in a sense.
Overall, looking at Grand Theft Auto V, it is reinforced as a work of art by these ideas of aesthetic, aura, and interpretation, and we can explain how it is art through the game’s many unique environments of art that are created by the game’s mechanics.