A Very Different Perspective – How Grand Theft Auto V is Art

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).

1
An screenshot of a view of a beach in game during sunset.
2
The Aura of the city is created by time and the space it is within

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.

 

References:

Benjamin, W. (2010). “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” United States: Prism Key Press.

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana, 1977.

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8 thoughts on “A Very Different Perspective – How Grand Theft Auto V is Art

  1. Great blog, I really enjoyed a lot of your claims in your write-up. In fact, your last sentence in the first paragraph of your blog gave your paper a sort of structure and gave a lead to what your main points were going to be about. “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.” This was sort of like your thesis to your blog and really caught my attention! Overall, I think you could have added a few more elements to make it stronger, but besides that your blog was a very interesting read!

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    • Thank you for your thoughts! The emphasis of this blog was to look solely in this perspective, as if you were to look more into a game-play perspective of Grand Theft Auto V, one would obviously think that it was not art at all. A simple look in aesthetics and other artsy perspectives can overall give us a different perspective of many games.

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  2. I like how you introduced the game mechanics to persuade the readers that this game is in fact an art or at least a means of self expression. Very well thought out and organized.

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    • Thank you! A look into the specific mechanics mentioned helps significantly to give more thoughts about just how much art element is put into Grand Theft Auto V.

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  3. “The vast landscape created that is put in front of me to explore” I completely agree with your perspective and I think the majority of people who have played the game consider this one of the best qualities of the game as well. It’s almost as if they incorporated three games in one, a driving or race car game with a shooting or war game with a mission. Lastly, the story line game where one has the majority of the control similarly to Gone Home.

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    • The environment is exactly one of the best qualities of the games that can be considered highly! And because of this high consideration we can look more into this environment and just what kind of characteristics are put into it to consider it as art. GTA V is indeed quite the combination of many genres because of its variety inside the game.

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  4. The most important thing i liked and overall summed up your post is “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.” I also have played this game for one of my blog post and had the same approach towards it. You also stuck to your statement by providing reasons to it such as aura,aesthetics, and interpretation which made it more concrete. Very well done good read.

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