The Art of Grand Theft Auto V

Introduction

For my final Blog, I have decided to switch things up from my original idea and dive in deeper into the world of Grand Theft Auto V. I did a blog about this game before but I wanted to go into much sensitive details in how Rockstar’s GTA V matters in the world of “Art”. Grand Theft Auto V was designed by Leslie Benzies who was also the lead designer of many of the Grand Theft Auto Series. Looking at the list of Benzies’ works, they have the great common of being violent games with games including; L.A Noire, Red Dead Redemption, and Max Payne.

GAMEPLAY

GTA V gives their users a wide range of possibilities when playing . From its crazy, action-packed story campaign to the online mode. Grand Theft Auto V is the first game since the original where the player can control several characters. The player can switch between Michael De Santa, Trevor Phillips and Franklin Clinton at any time off-mission, and at certain points during missions. The characters themselves are called Michael, Trevor and Franklin. Michael is a retired bank robber, while Trevor is a former military pilot and associate of Michael, while Franklin – the youngest of the three – works at a luxury car dealership. The idea is to expose the player to as much of the action as possible during missions.

One of the most interesting aspect that differs it from the rest of the series is its map. From the start of the game, every part of the map is available for them to explore unlik

e the previous Grand Theft Autos where you had to achieve missions to gain access to certain areas.  With this comes to my main point of why Grand Theft Auto has an importance to art. With the online mode allowing the players to connect with others around to roam the  city and complete missions together, there are so many possibilities for this game.

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One of the most interesting aspect that differs it from the rest of the series is its map. From the start of the game, every part of the map is available for them to explore unlike the previous Grand Theft Autos where you had to achieve missions to gain access to certain areas.  With this comes to my main point of why Grand Theft Auto has an importance to art. With the online mode allowing the players to connect with others around to roam the  city and complete missions together, there are so many possibilities for this game.

What Is MACHINIMA?

Many people have began creating their own art Grand Theft Auto V with the use of machinima, which is:

“Making films within/using a game or virtual environment. the film maker records and edits together gameplay. The gameplay can be natural, or it can be highly directed, with players acting according to a script. Editing of the platform (game/virtual world) in which the filming takes place, and post production editing can both be quite extensive.” (Mandiberg, Class 19 slide)

Machinima is a form of game art that uses a game to create a film/video. Like the clip above, a group of gamers use Grand Theft Auto V to create their own version of the movie , “The Purge”. Here they use mods to add specific tools and characters that can be used to recreate the movie. It takes multiple online players for them to process a piece like this. The film becomes its own form of art that has been derived from the game.  This is similar to Rooster Teeth using Halo to create  Red vs. Blue or Joseph Delappe’s dead-in-Irag.

Aesthetically Pleasing?

A key aspect when it comes to machinima is the aesthetics of it. Aesthetic is is the feeling you get when you hear, feel, or see smell, or taste something that we enjoy.

“The core of formal meaning of a game, according to many current approaches, radiates out from the procedural nature of games, through rule sets and mechanics to sound, graphics and the controller; the core of experienced game meaning radiates out from the brain and cognitive awareness towards the senses and hands. Game aesthetics research allows us to pay full attention to what we have tended to think of as peripheral, the edges of the spheres. New gaming technologies point us towards these peripheries, and new understandings of the significance of touch, the senses, form giving and pleasure help us better understand what really happens when we take the controller in our hands. Where hands, senses, bodies and the tangible qualities of games meet, the aesthetic meaning of games emerges.”(pg. 7, Niedenthal)

The way technology has been constantly changing, the capability of an artist to use different video games in order create art like this is ridiculous. If we were to compare other Machinimas such as Sheik Attack  by Eddo Stern Do one was capable to get their message passed through their piece. The aesthetic of using GTA V to create  their film, its ability to make mods gives the user  unlimited ability to created certain tools. Instead of using the simple features that is a part of it, having the ability something for our own taste and purpose is the main aesthetics of the game and is simply the highlight of machinima.

Aesthetics of a game includes the following:

  1. The sensory phenomena that the player encounters in the game.

  2. Aspects of digital games that are shared with other art forms.

  3. An expression of the game experienced as pleasure, emotion, sociability, form-giving etc. id=”ref2″>(pg. 2, Niedenthal)

With Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode, we are able to connect with people across the world and team up to create art. This brings in the social aspect of art within its community.“The scenarios, rules, stimuli, incentives, and narratives envisioned by the designers come alive in the behaviors they encourage and elicit from the players, whether individual or social.” Paola Antonelli (2012)

Death of the Designer? 

As mentioned multiple times in ur lectures, when it comes to works such these films, do we lose the author? Or in this situation, the game? When Roland Barthes talks of “The Death of An Author, does it imply that when gamers who use Grand Theft Auto to create their own art henceforth taking the credit of the designers of the game?

“the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author.”  (Barthes 1967, p. 6)

When these films are created by the gamers (readers) does the game loses its designer when we talk about art? because in art, the artist of these films are the gamers who took there time to use machinima, modifications, etc to create the videos. Therefore, we forget that the original designers of the game like Leslie Benzies (the author) even exist.

“Once the Author is gone, the claim to ‘decipher’ a text becomes quite useless. To give an Author to a text is to impose upon that text a stop clause, to furnish it with a final signification, to close the writing. This conception perfectly suits criticism, which can then take as its major task the discovery of the Author (or his hypostases: society, history, the psyche, freedom) beneath the work: once the Author is discovered, the text is ‘explained:’ the critic has conquered; hence it is scarcely surprising not only that, historically, the reign of the Author should also have been that of the Critic, but that criticism (even ‘new criticism’) should be overthrown along with the Author.” (Barthes 1967, p. 5)

(Barthes 1967, p. 5)

In our lectures we looked over videos of people playing Dance Dance Revolution, but what we were mainly looking at was the person playing it and not necessarily the game itself. And this is where it shows “the death of an author”.

What is the difference between watching a guy play Dance Dance Revolution and watching people play Grand Theft Auto V on Youtube? In both cases, we are there to watch the players but not exactly give respect tothe game itself, especially to its creators. This is how we also see Grand Theft Auto V have an importance in art.
This is also similar to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s. (1991). “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 9.29.44 AM.png

in how his original art piece is having a stack of multicolored candies that weigh in a total of  175 pounds. But with his piece, the purpose was for people freely take as much as they wanted, expressing how his partner was constantly loosing weight with his battle against AIDS. And in comparisons to 

Alex Melki’s pieces above are similar to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s in how a new piece of art can is created from its original. This is where again we see the “Death of An Author” because we now more focused on the adapted version of GTA V movie poster rather than its original.

Conclusion

There are so many ways to see Grand Theft Auto V as art rather than just another video games. With the way that its programmers created the game to where their users have so much freedom to explore its space and manipulate its characters to do much more than play its mission. Grand Theft Auto V simply becomes a canvas for the users to create their own type of art. And this is why I have enjoyed playing it for this project.

Work Cited:

  • Roland Barthes. (1977 [1967]). “The Death of the Author.” In Image, Music, Text. New York: Hill and Wang.
  • Eddo Stern. 2011. “Massively Multiplayer Machinima Mikusuto.” Journal of Visual Culture 10: pp. 42-50.
  • Niedenthal (2009). What we Talk About When we Talk About Game Aesthetics. http://www.digra.org/wp-content/uploads/digital-library/09287.17350.pdf


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