The merging of experience – GTA IV

It would be impossible to not do a post about Grand Theft Auto IV here. So here we go. Not everyone who has come to virtual worlds and metaverse, nor everyone who is a tech geek is a gamer. In fact it seems that many tech geeks simply are not gamers at all. Personally I am a gamer. I have been proud to same I am for a good few years now, though when I started work it was not the sort of thing people put on their CV.
GTAIV Special Edition
To many people video games are still simplistic mindless shooting platforms. Its fair to say there are a few of them! That being the case sometimes it is nice to just spark up a game for your own enjoyment and challenge, something old school patterns, levels, speed, reactions and knowing full well in the end the machine will win.
In the late 90’s though we started to see the rise of the LAN party. Online gaming, but local and fast. We often (in our slightly off the beaten track way) used to play team games after hours here in Hursley. This is where the exprience came, for me atleast, in understanding that you can learn a lot about people, form bonds, freindships, explore rivalrys etc in a immersive 3d environment (Quake, Unreal and Half-Life(team fortress) back then.
Knowing that there were benefits in a business context for team bonding, but seeing that fragging people requires both technical proficiency in puppeting your armour clad gun wielding avatar and a certain type of competitive, show off nature that not everyone comes to naturally in an at work environment I spent time looking for things that could harness the essence of the LAN party yet not need this extreme aggression.
It was knowing about the gaming gene being fired in my body when I start to experience things that warned me off some types of application. (That is not to say gaming is not important but there is a trigger I feel when I get a game buzz). It was of course Second Life that filled that void two years ago. The gaming gene did not fire, the communication, blogging, web2.0 sharing, business opportunities, technology architecture and social shange genes that ignited.
Now though people are becoming even more aware of the power of high end games. People who have never bothered with a console or stepped paste mindsweeper are starting to pay attention to how the games industry represents physics, the world and also how they make money.
With the release of GTAI V Rockstar games have produced a fantasticly detailed, engaging virtual world, a sandbox to explore. The sheer size and depth of the model of Liberty City is still astounding. This was of course a solitary experience in all the previous versions. Your 360 or PS3 would be rendering the city, telling the story. The latter of which you can choose to ignore as you set of to create your own goals to personal “I wonder what would happen if” questions. Last night though GTA IV crossed a line of experience. Both Roo and I ended up online in our respective houses and then descended into multiplayer games of GTA.
Multiplayer games as in up to 16 players, the player count is not massive but the playground of the city is. Whilst most games need a structure, a goal, capture the flag, remove the boss etc. there was a feeling that hit me that this model we were in did not just fire my gaming gene. At various points one of us would borrow a car (or a bike) and the other would hop in, and then just go exploring. A collaborative sandbox.
Games have had collaborative vehicles before, but I dont think they have had the same depth of interaction in the setting they are placed in. They have not felt quite like this.
Now clearly the subject matter of GTAIV does not help people get over the “games are about violence”, it is about business though (albeit a slightly unsavoury one).
If the games are starting to fire my personal set of non gaming genes it is only a matter of time before some new generations of staggering interactions start to occur.
All that said, GTA IV is a stunning game. The humour, the detail, the involvement, the internet cafe’s with its own made up embedded web, even the voice acting is tremendous (something that does not get said about games very often). It is also in the public conciousness, so now people may start to join some mental dots about game environments and metaverses whilst sitting watching,playing or reading about GTA IV on PS3’s and Xbox 360’s (both with embedded IBM chips and hardware in them.)

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About epredator

Director of metaverse and emerging tech consultancy Former IBM Consulting IT Specialist with 18 years at the company Games player epredator xbox live tag. epredator potato in second life

4 thoughts on “The merging of experience – GTA IV

  1. I bought an xbox360 just for this game and I don’t regret it. The game is fantastic. Like a virtual world. Rockstar did it again. Thanks for the post.

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