I don't play console games, but I'm fascinated by the response to Grand Theft Auto V, in part because it's launching a few interesting conversations about the nature and purpose of satire. Here's Armagideon Time's Andrew Weiss on his complicated relationship to the game:
Satire requires worthy targets. It is not — nor should it ever be — an excuse for puerile transgressions. It’s been a while since I dived into the collected works of Jonathan Swift, but I’m pretty sure the text of “A Modest Proposal” wasn’t “let’s BBQ some Irish babies. BTW ‘Ben Jonson’ sounds like a gay porn name lol.”
Los Angeles and its environs are a hotbed of narcissism and self-delusion? Whoa, dude. Someone raise Nathanael West from the dead so I can brief him on this radical discovery!
Too much of GTA V‘s satiric intent takes the form of lobbing blunt harpoons (and tired scatological puns) at beached whales.
And then there's this Polygon video discussion* about a torture scene that happens in the game, and whether or not the scene is a good example of satire:
I've messed around with the Grand Theft Auto series from time to time, and the free-roaming capabilities absolutely blow my mind. But the politics of the game always made me feel a little weird, and the way fans respond to criticism of those politics online, like the comments on this review's suggestion that a strong female character or two would have been much appreciated, completely turns me off. I do appreciate, though, the way the game is starting conversations like this. Maybe that's the most we can hope for out of a piece of art.
* Totally unrelated, but I hate the bloggy trend of video chats as a way of discussing a topic. The vast majority of us do not make for good television personalities. Watching these two men awkwardly discuss a topic brings absolutely nothing to its viewers that a podcast, or, even better, a written conversation, would deliver.