Adventures of a Non-Gamer: GTA IV


by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)

I really shouldn’t be writing this as the anger  has yet to fully subside. But I’m all about taking risks, so here’s  my attempt to proceed rationally. We’ll see how it goes. It all started  with a simple assignment — play Grand Theft Auto IV, write about Grand Theft Auto IV. Simple enough, right? Wrong. In my case, this  was so entirely wrong.

My complete inability to  function in this game caused a very real anger that I have not experienced  in my gaming adventures thus far. The worst part is this: my original  gaming coaches, little brothers Jordan and Peter, were present throughout  the struggles I encountered. I would love to think that they could actually  help me in some small way, but the truth is they made it five million  times worse.

I don’t have the typical  complaints you would hear from the game’s usual opponents — violence,  blah, blah, blah. Of course it’s a violent game, it says so on the box.  What it doesn’t say on the box is “make sure you have a double doctorate  in joystick sensitivity and following detailed maps while driving in  the worst possible conditions a person could ever drive in.” In college  I almost majored in both of these subjects, which would have been helpful  today. But instead, I choose English. There were no poems in Liberty  City, you guys.

My first hint of trouble  ahead was an innocent comment from Peter.

“GTA 5 comes out in September.”

“What’s GTA?”

He stared at me blankly.  Apparently GTA is the game I was playing. How am I supposed to know  what all of these signs and symbols mean? But Shawn, you might argue,  GTA isn’t a sign or a symbol, it’s a collection of letters. I mean,  okay. Just call it what the game is titled and we could have avoided  this whole conversation.

This was a minor snafu and  didn’t hinder my excitement to get started. What happened next was a  blur of deaths, speeding vehicles (so many vehicles), cops yelling things  at me, aggressive camera angle shifts, maps that didn’t make sense,  joystick mix-ups, and Russian accents that could have been coming from  my character — I’m not even sure which guy I was to be completely honest.  It was a horrific nightmare. I mean, if you had told me “your entire  family will die if you can’t get from point A to point B without hitting  139 cars and 80 light poles on the way,” I would have carried the  guilt of their short lives on my shoulders for all of eternity. I could  not even turn around in the street. I ran into more fences than I even  knew could exist in a game. I once missed the same turn eight times,  turning around and around and missing it every time.

At one point Jordan lost  it:


Um, calm down. That was a  tad harsh, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because he had  just told me to get off of Liberty Rock. In response, I hastily changed  lanes and hung a quick left. Apparently, he was talking about the radio  station and I had just gotten off of the only correct route I had been  on all day.

“I thought Liberty Rock  was the name of the highway,” I offered.

“You think I know the names  of the streeeeeettssssss?! AHHHHHH!” he screamed.

I thought I might need to  call an ambulance or something. He was a turning reddish purple with  hints of blue.

Peter found the whole thing  quite entertaining and honestly didn’t get angry until I said that I  didn’t want to kill anyone in the game. They swiftly concluded that  I was the first person to ever play Grand Theft Auto without killing  anyone. (On purpose, that is). Why would I want to run over innocent  pedestrians who are minding their own business?

In any event, I didn’t expect  this game to be as difficult as it was. Something about it didn’t compute  with my brain, and I manage to thoroughly amaze people with how terrible  I was. What can I say? I’m not cut out for a life of crime. Maybe I’ll  try it again someday. Probably not though. And by probably, I mean definitely.

Happy gaming, you gamers!

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