Weekend Confirmed 183 - Grand Theft Auto 5

By Ozzie Mejia, Sep 20, 2013 11:00am PDT

It's Grand Theft Auto V week at Weekend Confirmed! Hosts Garnett Lee and Jeff Cannata welcome in "Indie" Jeff Mattas and Game Trailers' Marcus Beer to first discuss Diablo 3 and the closure of the auction houses. Then it's a full-length discussion of GTA V, diving into everyone's first impressions of Rockstar's newest opus, the game's similarities to real-world Los Angeles, a breakdown of the game's characters (including the sociopathic Trevor), and the ways in which Rockstar will (both fairly and unfairly) shoulder the controversy burden for years to come. That's followed up with some listener questions before everyone drives off into the weekend with a new round of Finishing Moves and the post-show Tailgate.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 183: 9/20/2013

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Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

    Show Breakdown:

    Round 1 - 00:00:35 - 00:29:15

    Round 2 - 00:30:35 - 00:57:28

    Round 3 - 00:58:05 - 01:34:21

    Round 4/Finishing Moves - 01:35:01 - 02:01:49

    Tailgate - 2:01:49 - 2:10:36

The Press Row Podcast is the official podcast of Operation Sports, your home for sports video games. The best sports game writers in the business from Kotaku, Polygon, GamesRadar, Joystiq, PastaPadre and Operation Sports join host Rich Grisham to analyze the victories, struggles, challenges, and solutions that creators and consumers face in modern sports game design.

Follow the Weekend Confirmed crew on Twitter, too!

Weekend Confirmed @WeekendConfirmd

Garnett Lee @GarnettLee

Jeff Cannata @JeffCannata

Jeff Mattas @JeffMattas

Marcus Beer @AnnoyedGamer

Remember to join the Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page and add us to your Facebook routine. We'll be keeping you up with the latest on the show there as well.

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Check out his latest music video, I Brought It Here, featuring cameos from Jeff Cannata and Christian Spicer on YouTube. Get his latest Album, Club Tipsy on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter @delriomusic.

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  • One thing you have to consider when discussing Steam Machine is AMD Mantle, which changes things considerably. If Steam machine can employ it, the problem of no native content will soon be nil. Especially if Mantle is a direct rip of either console's API (Anand suspects it's XB1, Eurogamer thinks it's from the PS4). If this is the case, we'll be seeing day 1 releases of AAA titles that are fully compatible with Steambox.

    Within a year or so, a $200-300 Steambox will outperform a $400-500 console. And from there, users will be able to upgrade them...

    And btw you can build a PC with similar specs to ps4 and xb1 for about $400-500 now. Core i3 with a Radeon 7850. And with low level access, performance will be close.

  • Thanks for being one of the few podcasts actually approaching their discussion of GTA V with some grounded critiques. I do think it’s important, though, to flesh out and explore some of the issues you touched on in the last episode.

    For me, the most pressing idea from your conversation was the notion that if certain elements of the game at least spark a debate, or even cause the player to pause for a moment of moral self reflection, then that was perhaps a valuable artistic contribution on the part of Rockstar. This is not a new defense for controversial artistic expression, and there is merit to the argument, but when this argument is made it is also important to make the often muddy attempt to discern what we can about the intent of the artist(s). Just because a game or story makes one think does not release the makers of that story from the burden of their intention. One can include a horrible act in a work of fiction, but whether one's intention is to either glorify or condemn that act, both are going to make the reader/viewer/player think. The author's intention is relevant to the discussion; whether it be the peppering of anti-Semitism in "The Great Gatsby" or the bigotry in "The Birth of a Nation", to the portrayal of sexual abuse in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and the Gaspar Noé film "Irreversible". If art makes the consumer of that art reflect on an idea, that can be extremely valuable, but it's just as important to also contextualize the intent or message of the artist.

    Interpretation of the work of art is critical, but the work does not exist in a vacuum. The artist(s) possessed a point of view that was either the seed that birthed that work, or the paint used to produce it. The other option is that the work possesses no point of view at all, in which case the creator was either incapable or unwilling to intentionally produce something of artistic merit (granted this is an oversimplification in order to make a point; trying not to write a whole graduate thesis here).

    The creation of and participation in a video game is an artistic endeavor (sorry, but the debate on that really is over. It’s time to move past that counterproductive dispute), but the messenger is important, as is the messenger's skill at delivering that message.

    Fans of the series tend to defend its content by labeling it as parody or satire. This may be a legitimate classification, but the more important question would then be: is it a successful one?

    (I bring up the following not as an example of ideological right vs. wrong, but as an example of satire and the object of that satire.)

    I’ve encountered a few people who brought up Steven Colbert during this most recent GTA debate. Anecdotally speaking, there are a number of people out there who have watched “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central and not understood that the persona of Steven Colbert on that show is a satirical fiction. The truth of this isn’t particularly comfortable to me, but those people are out there. Fortunately, those folks are a substantial minority of the Colbert audience, and the rest are all in on the joke. The majority of the viewers of this show have been cultivated by Steven and his crew because of its very specific design. Were it the case that the ratings for “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central were abysmal and the show’s main audience was found to be on Fox News where that audience somehow managed to take him seriously, then the show would be a failure by design. GTA, also anecdotally speaking, seems to appeal to a majority (or perhaps a very vocal minority) of players who get a tremendous amount of joy from the criminal and degenerate acts they can perform in the game as well as the prevalent themes of misogyny and sociopathy. The idea of parody or satire rarely seems to enter the equation for them.

    Let me clarify that I am completely fine with GTA existing as it is. I’m even fine with it existing as a middle finger to all that is decent and good in this world as some of its detractors both in the media and elsewhere often like to portray it. What I’m not comfortable with is what seems to be the prevalent notion in the enthusiast press that GTA is something of a triumph of satirical social commentary. Academically speaking, that idea comes off as uninformed, or at least as one coming from an artistically underexposed perspective.

    GTA, of course, has every right to exist, and its fans are wholly justified in their fandom of it; but when I examine the content of the games I'm still unclear as to Rockstar's intent with the GTA series. Based on the evidence we have in each of the entries of the series and the other various gaming properties in the Rockstar catalog, it seems they either need to figure out how to better communicate their ideas, or they need to be more forthright about their inconsistently nihilist thematic points of view.

  • Personally, I love that GTAV is, as Jeff puts it, a rage machine.

    And I agree with Marcus, that it's not an impotent rage, but of a building, wide-spread rage throughout western culture right now. Personally, the theme that I see repeated throughout GTA5, right down to the design of the logo is money. And how we've become a culture obsessed with money and the status associated with it, and we're destroying ourselves, our lives, our families, our friends, our culture and our futures in the reckless, relentless pursuit of the almighty dollar by any means necessary.

    I understand it's not for everybody. Jeff, you don't seem like a very angry, cynical guy from all the time I've listened to you on this podcast and TRS. You're optimistic. You're idealistic. You love loving things! Which is great!

    But I bet even you, lover of loving things, have felt angry. Have felt cynical. Have felt frustrated, or heartbroken, or have felt or witnessed injustice, or felt like systems aren't working as they should, or that bad things and bad people are glorified at the expense of the good. And those seem to be the emotions that Rockstar has put into making this game. That's the fuel powering the artistic expression.

    So I'll ask: When was the last time you played a game and could genuinely feel the emotion of the designers? Not logically sort out the theme of the game on an intellectual level, but feel the raw emotion they were putting out at a gutteral level?

    I can't think of the last time. And I think that's a huge deal for the progression of videogames as an artistic medium. Playing Grand Theft Auto V felt like listening to a punk rock or metal song. It felt like distilled emotion made real through binary code on my television screen. And that's pretty awesome.