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A gamer remembers: losing myself in Grand Theft Auto

3 years agoby:

Grand Theft Auto V 2

Grand Theft Auto III released in October of 2001, about six months before I picked up my very first video game system (a Playstation 2). I had of course played plenty of Playstation and N64 before with various friends, but this was the first time I'd had a system all to myself. I fiddled around for a while with Madden and Jak and Daxter and the like, and while I certainly had fun I never managed to find something that quite captured me in the way that I had dreamed when I first picked up the system.  Until I played Grand Theft Auto III. 

I don't even remember how I got a hold of a copy, but I did, and nearly instantly I became completely conscious of something special.  Something new.  Something acutely real.  What Grand Theft Auto III had, what so instantly captured me as the opening cinematics ended and I gained control of my silent protagonist? Expansive storytelling possibility.  The video ended, the HUD came up, and I just stood there for a moment.  Then I started to walk.  And then all of a sudden I was running, and people were passing me by, and music blared from cars that were seemingly going somewhere, and there was a little L on my minimap saying that someone wanted to talk to me, and I consciously realized that I could do whatever the f**k I wanted.  I was free.

Grand Theft Auto V 1

Here's a funny anecdote for you: I was so amazed by the gameplay and the freedom and the detail of the world that I actually checked online to see if Liberty City was a real place.  Somehow the game and its storytelling so got under my skin that I became convinced that they had to be at least based in reality, if nothing else.  I of course realized before long that they were based around NYC, but that's the point - below all the hooker pickups and violent vengeance and messy heists and acid-dropping hippies on the radio was a beating heart of humanity, of possibility of experience, of learning and growth and heartache and consequences and reality.  Of a whole range of characters who had very real fears, hopes, dreams, loves, and losses.  And so I devoured Liberty City.  I devoured Grand Theft Auto III.  And yes, I dicked around and made it to the highest wanted level and went toe to toe with a hapless army.  But I would never have bothered if I hadn't already been signed, sealed, and delivered by an engaging story about human experience amidst a world that boggled my young mind. 

After Grand Theft Auto III came Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a game that I loved even more than GTA III.  Maybe I was just older, maybe it was just a better game in terms of story/design/world building, maybe the cast of characters were just more unexpected and engaging, or maybe the graphics were just better.  Whatever it was, despite not having seen any of the shows or gangster movies being referenced in every twist in the tale and facet of the world, I was still instantly hooked.  I easily conquered Vice City far faster than I had Liberty City, and went back without hesitation for seconds, thirds, and fourths.  And while I wasn't as hooked by San Andreas as I had been by GTA III or Vice City I still dug the hell out of it, and rank it well above most other games to release in its generation.

Grand Theft Auto V 3

Yes, this is in-game footage.  No, I'm not messing with you.

I've never viewed video games as an escape, at least consciously anyway.  I played, and currently play, games that engage me.  That fascinate me.  That grip me.  That take me on the sort of journey that another medium can only feebly imitate.  And so for me, the single most memorable moment I have had with Rockstar's stellar work on the Grand Theft Auto series has actually been a series of moments.  A succession, building on what came before in a snowball effect that swept me away. Because, fundamentally, it's always been about the possibility.  About living a life that I had never known, going through an experience (be it criminal, minority, violent, immigrant, or what have you) that I had no access to in my own everyday life.  GTA has always been about looking up at all that I as Alejandro Stepenberg have from the underside, taking on a brave new life in a strange new world (looking at you, GTA IV) where I had to scratch my way out to survive.  Humanity has always been, and will ever be, the unique heart that pumps blood and life into this series. 

And drive-bys.  Those are good too.

Grand Theft Auto V is "developed by series creator Rockstar North [and] takes place in a re-imagined, present-day Southern California in the largest and most thriving game-world [they] have ever created set in the sprawling city of Los Santos and for miles beyond – from the tops of the mountains to the depths of the ocean." 

It is currently available for pre-order in advance of its release in Spring 2013.

Grand Theft Auto V 4

Extra Tidbit: What's your favorite memory connected with what Rockstar has created in Grand Theft Auto?
Source: JoBlo.com

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10:35AM on 11/13/2012
I recall playing Vice City for the first time. it changed my life. I'd say the best Rockstar game is Red Dead Redemption, its pretty much GTA with cowboys and shit. I highly suggest it.
I recall playing Vice City for the first time. it changed my life. I'd say the best Rockstar game is Red Dead Redemption, its pretty much GTA with cowboys and shit. I highly suggest it.
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2:36PM on 11/13/2012
Vice City was the only GTA game I ever got seriously hooked on. Something about committing violent crimes whilst listening to Flock Of Seagulls or Human League. Endlessly amusing.
Vice City was the only GTA game I ever got seriously hooked on. Something about committing violent crimes whilst listening to Flock Of Seagulls or Human League. Endlessly amusing.
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3:14PM on 11/13/2012

Vice City

Vice City. It hooked me the moment I ran some one down to Barracuda by Heart.
Vice City. It hooked me the moment I ran some one down to Barracuda by Heart.
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3:35PM on 11/13/2012

My first time....

My brother and I were at Best Buy and he spotted GTA3 on the shelf stating " I heard this was a good game". I remember trying to talk him out of it for a Teken game at the time ( boy was I not aware). He bought it anyway and when we got home we put it in and he said here you go I'm gonna lay down. So once the game started I walked my character over and picked up a bat. Just for fun I thought it be cool to beat people with this. Then I walked over and actually beat a hooker for 20 min with my
My brother and I were at Best Buy and he spotted GTA3 on the shelf stating " I heard this was a good game". I remember trying to talk him out of it for a Teken game at the time ( boy was I not aware). He bought it anyway and when we got home we put it in and he said here you go I'm gonna lay down. So once the game started I walked my character over and picked up a bat. Just for fun I thought it be cool to beat people with this. Then I walked over and actually beat a hooker for 20 min with my mouth on the floor. I was in love and had never played a game so amazing. I was screaming JASON JASON look. My brother woke up and I'm beating a hooker with a bat with a huge smile on my face. Then I stole a car and got the police to chase me. Pure heaven. I love gta. Gta was a defining moment in my life for games.
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10:36AM on 11/13/2012
GTAIII, in my opinion, is probably the single most important video game in history.

I remember pre-ordering it and after months of anticipation, finally got it from Best Buy, got home and the next 3-4 months I was a hermit from society. I love the whole series but when asked about video game memories, GTAIII always comes to my mind before any other GTA title. It's just one of those games that had a huge impact on my life, I'll never forget it.

Here's a quote from GTA that I'm sure is
GTAIII, in my opinion, is probably the single most important video game in history.

I remember pre-ordering it and after months of anticipation, finally got it from Best Buy, got home and the next 3-4 months I was a hermit from society. I love the whole series but when asked about video game memories, GTAIII always comes to my mind before any other GTA title. It's just one of those games that had a huge impact on my life, I'll never forget it.

Here's a quote from GTA that I'm sure is stuck in everybody's head, even since the game first came out.........."I know a place on the edge of the Red Light District where we can lay low, but my hands are all messed up so you better drive, brother." - 8-Ball

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12:10PM on 11/13/2012
Good memory, man! Damn was that a good mission. Everything surrounding around 8-Ball, really.
Good memory, man! Damn was that a good mission. Everything surrounding around 8-Ball, really.
1:15PM on 11/14/2012

You all are making me feel old!

HA! I still remember when I was 19/20 playing the original GTA and I couldn't believe it! That was so much fun even though it was only the overhead view due to the graphics of the time. IT was very expansive for a game in the late 90's! I loved just running around and killing people and trying to always get the tank! My favorite was the flame thrower or running over the Hare Kirshna to get a gouranga bonus! HAHA..IT was so awesome. Then I got the very cool Grand Theft Auto London 1961! One of
HA! I still remember when I was 19/20 playing the original GTA and I couldn't believe it! That was so much fun even though it was only the overhead view due to the graphics of the time. IT was very expansive for a game in the late 90's! I loved just running around and killing people and trying to always get the tank! My favorite was the flame thrower or running over the Hare Kirshna to get a gouranga bonus! HAHA..IT was so awesome. Then I got the very cool Grand Theft Auto London 1961! One of my favorites which I would they would bring that one into modern gaming atmosphere. We need a time period piece from the 60's or early 70's! Early 70's would be cool due to the muscle cars. I have never had to be sold on a GTA game ever since. Nothing was like GTA III or the Vice experience because of the beautiful transfer of GTA to a new view.San Andres was my least favorite of the series. .
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7:11PM on 11/13/2012

Funny thing...

And maybe this is because I never played GTA3 or Vice City, but I've never actually picked up or killed a hooker in a GTA game. I know right?! It's not even like I was avoiding the experience, it's just something that never really occurred to me. Like, why bother going out and murdering people when I can cruise around listening to all these hilarious fake radio DJs??
And maybe this is because I never played GTA3 or Vice City, but I've never actually picked up or killed a hooker in a GTA game. I know right?! It's not even like I was avoiding the experience, it's just something that never really occurred to me. Like, why bother going out and murdering people when I can cruise around listening to all these hilarious fake radio DJs??
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8:36PM on 11/13/2012
Red Dead when James died and I was in shock, and then depressed how a game made me care so much for a character.
Red Dead when James died and I was in shock, and then depressed how a game made me care so much for a character.
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3:19PM on 11/13/2012
When I first played this game, I shared the PS2 with a friend, and I was literally hooked. I had a bad 8th and 9th year because of this. This is still my favorite of the series, and Vice City coming closely second. I never played San Andreas, and beaten part IV a while back. I feel as if they're becoming redundant, but still fun. III, though, was the one that broke the ice for me.
When I first played this game, I shared the PS2 with a friend, and I was literally hooked. I had a bad 8th and 9th year because of this. This is still my favorite of the series, and Vice City coming closely second. I never played San Andreas, and beaten part IV a while back. I feel as if they're becoming redundant, but still fun. III, though, was the one that broke the ice for me.
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1:43PM on 11/13/2012

picking up a hooker

my friend tossed some C4 on the car and was like you fuckin bitch and drove the car off the bridge and it blew up me and him laughed for hours. Many many more memorys though :)
my friend tossed some C4 on the car and was like you fuckin bitch and drove the car off the bridge and it blew up me and him laughed for hours. Many many more memorys though :)
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10:44AM on 11/13/2012
GTAIII, in my opinion, is probably the single most important video game in history.

I remember pre-ordering it and after months of anticipation, finally got it from Best Buy, got home and the next 3-4 months I was a hermit from society. I love the whole series but when asked about video game memories, GTAIII always comes to my mind before any other GTA title. It's just one of those games that had a huge impact on my life, I'll never forget it.

Here's a quote from GTA that I'm sure is
GTAIII, in my opinion, is probably the single most important video game in history.

I remember pre-ordering it and after months of anticipation, finally got it from Best Buy, got home and the next 3-4 months I was a hermit from society. I love the whole series but when asked about video game memories, GTAIII always comes to my mind before any other GTA title. It's just one of those games that had a huge impact on my life, I'll never forget it.

Here's a quote from GTA that I'm sure is stuck in everybody's head, even since the game first came out.........."I know a place on the edge of the Red Light District where we can lay low, but my hands are all messed up so you better drive, brother." - 8-Ball

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12:18PM on 11/13/2012

Memories...

I realized GTA had hacked my brain when I'd go outside and see an ambulance go by and think, ever so fleetingly of how hard would it be, really? to just go jack it. When a cop went by and all I coldly thought was, "Theres a shotgun in there i can take" I realized the game had managed to crawl into my head in a profound way....
I realized GTA had hacked my brain when I'd go outside and see an ambulance go by and think, ever so fleetingly of how hard would it be, really? to just go jack it. When a cop went by and all I coldly thought was, "Theres a shotgun in there i can take" I realized the game had managed to crawl into my head in a profound way....
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2:39AM on 11/15/2012
Yep. I know that feeling.....
Yep. I know that feeling.....
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