Grand Theft ART V

gta-v-raigoogle-15Is it Art?

Grand Theft Auto 5 can be considered as art in the idea that it took many people to complete the production of the game. Rockstar North was mainly responsible for the development of GTAV and was published by Rockstar Games. Other Rockstar studios contributed to the game in small ways. Howard Becker in Art Worlds and Collective Activity states that “Imagine, as one extreme case, a situation in which one person did everything: made everything, invented everything, had all the ideas, performed or executed the work, experienced and appreciated it, all without the assistance or help of anyone else” (Becker 7). Now, this is not true for small indie games that can be completed in 30 mins or less in terms of playing the game but, is impossible for Triple-AAA games to be made this way. The game would be development hell for years to come. Becker later states on the same page “Think of the opposite extreme, a situation in which each activity is done by a separate person, a specialist who does nothing but that one operation, much like the division of tasks on an industrial assembly line” (Becker 7).  Most development studios employ up to 1,000+ that all have different jobs on the same project. Some employees might be tasked with working on the cinematics that takes place in the game and within that team, they might be responsible for the specific areas of focus.

Trevor, Franklin, and Michael copying the Three Wise Monkeys

Note how the characters change the locations of their arms. Trevor covers his eyes while Franklin covers his mouth and Michael cups his ears. That was someone’s job to rig the animations so they would look that way in the final version of the game. Another person oversaw the lighting in that scene so you could even see the characters properly as they were making those actions. And there was someone who had to program the scene to trigger when you reached it after a certain point in a mission.

Is it not Art?

People who believe the GTA series are not art routinely cite the fact that it is a game that imitates real life. Critics are more likely to point out all of the violence of the series contains. The player has almost total agency in what they want to do outside of missions. They can go on shooting rampages which can attract the attention of the cops and eventually the military when you reach 5 blinking stars.

My Opinion

I believe that Grand Theft Auto V can be considered art in the idea that the game gives the player total agency to do whatever the player wants to do. The art comes out of being able to say I completed a mission this way and then later complete the same mission in a totally different way. Some games limit player choice and this does not lead to a freedom of expression which I believe is key for something to be considered a piece of art.


Howard Becker – Art Worlds and Collective Activity


5 thoughts on “Grand Theft ART V

  1. You make a really good point that the game imitates real life, making it seem like it is not art. But, in paintings, a lot of those imitate real life, even the mundane and ordinary things, which is considered to be art. So, why not this game too?


    • I should clarify my point a bit better. Grand Theft Auto V is art. It is art because the ability to create and modify the play space is important to the player as it gives them agency to make the game closer to what they want to do.


      • I didn’t think that your argument was that it was not art, I was actually agreeing with you. A lot of people do not believe that games such as GTA could be considered art because they imitate real life. However, the counterargument is that paintings and drawings often imitate real life as well, which are considered art, pretty much without question. So, why can’t video games be art too? I was agreeing with what you were saying.


  2. y do you think that a lack of choice in a game restricts the ability for it to be considered art?maybe, a game needs to be a bit more restricted in order to achieve a certain objective….. to learn something about yourself or about the game…


  3. I enjoyed your argument for the game being an art through the lense of production and the team behind the creation of the game. While the game stands to be very expressive and “free” by design, there is a basic, linear direction that the player must follow in order to progress. I feel as though this could be a toss up between those who play the game for an enticing story and those who are simply after the “playground” like experience that GTA is notoriously known for. Perhaps that could be an argument mentioned in whether this game stands by its story and how artistically it was presented or how expressive the game is when played in the light of a true free-roam, open world. Just something to think about


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s