Let me just start out with, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a hell of a game. I remember it being the very first open world game that I played when I was a young lad. By open world, I mean that you can explore the game or do whatever you want without having to partake in a mission or quest. While revisiting this game, I know the artwork and graphics are not as good as games that are out these days but it gave me a sense of nostalgia. It was amazing how much they were able to fit into this game that made it stand out. You can decapitate an innocent bystander with a katana, blow up cars with tanks, and even get freaky with prostitutes in your car.
The important question however is, is thegame art? When we talk about art, many definitions come to mind. Some say art is subjective, while others art is most definitely objective. In my opinion, art is subjective. Each individual can have their own opinion of art and while others may not agree, that does not mean they are wrong. Howard Becker states that “All artistic work, like all human activity, involves the join activity of a number, often a large number, of people” (1). Rockstar as a company, had a large number of people working on this game. There were people working on the game play, while others were working on the artwork. You had others developing the story and members of the team creating sounds and music for the game. Each of these elements came together to form a piece of art that also happened to be a game. This also coincides with “Each kind of person who participates in the making of art works, then, has a specific bundle of tasks to do” (Becker 11). Each person working on a certain section of the game could be considered an artist in their own right. There are multiple types of artist, each with their own medium. Art is not confined to what one person deems it to be and it certainly does not change its meaning to people if others don’t appreciate it.
The game itself, gave me a mix of emotions while playing it. There were times when I felt anger and others where I felt joy. Art is supposed to make you feel a certain way when you happen to stumble upon it and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City did just that. You could see the work put into the open world game. You appreciate all the colors that they threw into the game. Things such as the storyline or the way the characters move along with the game sound stimulate you. As you play the game, you start to enjoy it and art is something you can enjoy and appreciate.You can tell Rockstar put their hearts out into creating this piece of art that would mean something to someone. It could mean fun or a distraction or maybe even a story to tell. As I mentioned before, the visuals may not be the greatest, but something about it just draws you in and makes you want to interact with the game. I often find myself thinking about what kind of scene would happen if I did a certain action. The fact that you could walk into buildings or jump into cars made the game feel realistic and somehow artistic. Vice City is definitely art.
-Howard Becker. (1982). “Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press: pp. 1-39. [PDF or books.google.com]