I like playing video games, but I'm by no means hard core, and I've never had a desire to play one of the Grand Theft Auto games. However, I was interested in this observation from Salon.com:
As much as it is a driving and shooting game, then, "GTA" is also a puzzle game. The puzzle concerns social relationships: You're working with and for several characters at once, and what you do for some of them affects how you get along with others. In a game known mainly for carjacking, it's surprising how much time you're asked to spend building and maintaining friendships and romantic liaisons -- going on dates to bowling alleys and comedy clubs, hanging out with your pals at bars and pool halls, keeping up with a surfeit of text messages and e-mail (even deleting Nigerian spam).
It may be too much to say that "GTA" has a message, but it certainly has a vision: It's the dystopian near-future, something like the world of "The Children of Men" (there are no kids here, either).
The vision is pushed by the media your character encounters -- the radio stations, the TV networks, the astonishingly deep in-game Web (with parodies of Craigslist, Fox News, Match.com and other sites, which you access at Internet cafes called TW@).
As you pass through the city, you learn about the end of reading as a pastime, or the new market in selling babies over the Internet, or the extremely elevated terrorist threat -- "Liberty City is now officially on Charcoal 8 Alert, more serious than the Red High 7 Risk Alert, but not as serious as the recently created Black Severe 9 Alert," the game's Fox News analogue, Weasel News, warns.
I can't imagine enjoying a game like GTAIV, but I might enjoy reading a book or seeing a movie set in its world? The difference? I suppose it's one of moral agency. I can watch characters on a movie screen do dispicable things without identifying with their depravity. I can read about them in books without becoming responsible for their actions. But you take agency over video game characters, and their actions are, vicariously, your actions, and the limits (or lack of limits) of your moral universe define the characters' morality as well. Thus, by playing this story in a video game, I would come to see myself as complicit in that which my character did, in ways that I would not want to be complicit.
By analogy, I've played several Star Wars themed video games, and one consistent theme is the ability of your character to choose the light side or the dark side of the Force through the choices you make in-game. I've never been comfortable playing dark side characters. When I played Neverwinter Nights 2, which allows alignment shift based on your behavior, by the end of the game my character was strongly "Lawful Good" (and here I had always thought of myself in real life as Neutral Good, oh well).
So, GTA, though I'm sure a very intriguing game for any number of reasons, would leave me morally troubled in a way that watching "No Country for Old Men" did not. So, I'll be happy to read the reviews, and consider the distopian vision of the game, but I can't imagine I'd ever be intrigued enough to actually play it.