Lately, I’ve been playing GTA IV. Quite honestly, beating up on, or shooting, some animated bad guys is a great school-day stress reliever (I discovered that electrocuting people as Storm in Marvel Ultimate Alliance was one of the best ways to get over the trauma of student teaching. I could just pretend that all the drones were students and summon the power of the wind… Nah…I don’t actually dream about maiming my students…little angels). I know that it’s late, most people have been playing this game for months already. In fact, most people are probably done with this game by now – but I needed something to fill the void that completing (twice) Fable II has left in my life.
And I picked up, once again, the story of Niko Bellic.
What I’ve found is that, after a certain level, the missions get difficult! At least for me. I’m a jumpy, jittery, player. Shots ring out on the game and it makes the hairs on my neck stand up. I feel a rush of adrenaline, the sting of sweat, and I immediately laugh at myself for being so nervous about the prospect of my video game character getting shot.
I don’t like it when people in the game express unhappiness with my decisions. Recently, when I got killed, a second time, trying to drop off a package for someone else (I lost two good cars in the process of trying to complete this mission) I was informed that he was “vexed” with my inability to complete the job – and his approval rating of me dropped a percentage point. It also makes me uncomfortable to watch fictional characters (not even people, but somewhat disjointed animations of what are supposed to look like people) do drugs of any degree more serious than Mary Jane. No, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable shooting officers and drug dealers, but yes, it does make me uncomfortable to watch Elizabeta nervously snort coke off a mirror in her living room. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because drugs has always been “worse” to me than sex or violence…
I could just quit playing the game, right? No need for all this “vexation” and anxiety. And yet, I can’t. True, my addiction level says “fiend” in the Stats Menu, but that’s not the real reason I can’t quit just yet. I must know how the story “ends”! I want to know what happens to this character to whom I’ve grown attached. Will Roman, my cousin, be okay? Will he get to marry the love of his life, Mallorie? Does any of the story have a happy ending? So, to balance the stress and the curiosity, I must admit that recently I downloaded a bunch of the cheats and read a walk through – I was tired of trying different ways to complete missions and failing! And, while I haven’t yet used the cheats, it’s been comforting having them by my side – knowing that I can call of the cops with a well placed phone call if I need to.
What’s worse is that because I don’t like to play with an audience, and because I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting time in front of the television when I could be spending it with The Boy, I have to wait for a time when Jeremy’s not around (or asleep) for a good couple of hours before I can pick up the controller again.
Oh, what’s that I hear?
Protected: GTA IV
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