Gran Theft Auto IV induction to the canon

Patrick Lynn                                                                                            11/2/12

Professor Whalen                                         Grand Theft Auto IV Induction To The Canon




The entirety of the video game series Grand Theft Auto offers a rewarding gaming experience; however, one of the games stands out far beyond the others, Grand Theft Auto IV. The fourth game in this series equips the gamer with an expansive map, were the player is encouraged to roam the streets of a replicated New York City, referred to as Liberty city. Liberty City truly has a culture all its own, with nightlife consisting of bars, night clubs, and restaurants, all for the player to enjoy and experience without leaving their couch . This ultimate freedom of choice the map and game play possess tends to impresses any gamer upon realization. The variety of programed outcomes that react to almost any action the player inputs inhibits a sense reality that no other game can compete with, making Grand Theft Auto IV a certain choice for the Video Game Canon.


The map of the game is one of the biggest outlets for gamer choice. However exploring Liberty City is a privilege given when various “jobs” or challenges in the game are achieved. Until these jobs are completed the bridges and roads to other islands are barricaded by dozens of police vehicles and restricted access signs.  In the beginning of the game, Nico Bellic ( the protagonist ), and the gamer are limited to the city of Broker , a smaller island resembling Queens of New york City. It isn’t in till Nico must move with his cousin to Bohan, (another burrow in the city) due to various threats both Nico and his cousin receive. I believe that this tactic of restricting the gamer to select islands and burrows for a period of time is brilliant. By restricting game play, the gamer wants nothing more then to experience the map, upon receiving this privilege of exploration the player is left with a sense of accomplishment and can truly enjoy the beauty of the map .  Bobby Schweizer’s articledescribes the advantages of having having everything aspect in GTA IV map when he states “When these maps are unlocked and the bridges are clear there are many different forms of transportation that you can choice to enjoy the various sights of Liberty City” (Representations of the city in video games). For example The gamer could steal a speed boat in the harbor and have an up close look at Liberty City’s Liberty Island ,where the statue of liberty can be found. Perhaps the gamer would like to experience The Metropolitan Museum of Art in an inferno, Grand Theft autos take on a Lamborghini. The main high ways in the game were created for high speeds in automobiles, creating a perfect place for races. On various parts of the map a racing icon appear wear the player can engage in illegal street racing with their car of choice. This element that the game designers implemented, acts as a game with in a game meet an even larger fan base that is attracted to racing . The combinations seem endless, as hours of game play provide evidence of Grand Theft Auto’s remarkable ability to provide massive amounts of content during game play.


Due to the complete control you have over Nico any action you have in mind for him will never be debated, leaving Nico in illegal, life or death situations. The choices Nico and the player have to interact with Liberty City and it’s culture is vast. At any time of the day or night the player can have Nico call any of his friends and invite them to such activities as going to a club to dance, playing darts, or  drinking at a bar. The player has complete control over any moral implications that Nico may have during the game. This power of moral conflicted actions is expressed when Ben Hourgan states   “GTA IV gives players an option to indulge in violence but does not compel them to do so, players are morally responsible for their wrongdoing. You as the player do not have to partake in this illegal actions but in the end it is the players decision.(Want to steal cars and shoot cops). Like everyone’s, Nico’s actions all have effects, After a long night of drinking with a buddy the player is forced to deal with a drunken Nico Bellic. The player is left with a choice, to have Nico drive home drunk and risk being arrested or attempt to call a cab by stumbling in the middle of street. The choice is easy drive home!  By having complete control over Nico and with the understanding that death is just a momentary loading screen till your back in the action, players push the limits of GTA IV’s ability to react to players input and yet it still responses accordingly.



The story mode of Grand Theft Auto IV makes a point to capture the games characteristic of choice. As the player works his way to different criminal connections throughout the city, the player must make various choices. At various points in the game, the player is asked to choose which “ boss” to kill due to Nico’s inability to  have two employers at one time. By choosing to kill certain employers, different in game perks change along with the death, such as drug connections or police enforcement avoidance. This same idea of having to choose between characters can be found in other games such as ,Halo ,and Call of duty but nether of those games molds their story’s to the choices that the player makes as much as Grand Theft Auto. The story mode also provides Nico the choice of what type of employment the player wants to pursue. Being a Drug Dealer, Car thief, or a burglar are all various choices Nico has to make money, each job coming with new characters that would haven’t been seen otherwise. The story mode can be put on hold for a period of time, as Ben Hourigan explains  “Though you can put the story on hold and just go for a drive (maybe testing the cops’ response to your mowing down of pedestrians on the sidewalk rather than driving on the street), there’s always a set of missions ready to move the narrative along when you feel like it.” (Want to steal cars and shoot cops). Hourigan describes how even though story mode is a huge part of the game the player has the choice to ether use the story more for game play or go on their own journey into Liberty City.


Realism is a characteristic that many video game products attempt to implement, and is a sought out trait by many in the gaming culture. Through the power of choice, Rockstar Games, creators of Grand Theft Auto, provide the player with a realistic experience where the actions and choices of the player are followed by direct responses accordingly. By providing these choices of what car you would like to drive, or outfit to wear, the player has the ability to relate themselves with the main character even more. By strongly concentrating on the ability of choice in Grand Theft Auto IV,  Rockstar Games created a game with freedom like no video game , leaving GTA IV worthy of the distinguished Video Game Canon title.












  1. Hourigan, Ben. “Publications.” The Moral Code of Grand Theft Auto IV. Institute of Public Affairs, Sept.-Oct. 09. Web. 05 Nov. 2012


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