Back in October, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was released for the Playstation 2. I bought it the day it came out, because I wanted to know what it felt like to grow up in South Central in the early 90's. My only frame of reference up to that point was the helicopter footage of the LA riots and Dr. Dre's album, "The Chronic". I played it constantly. I would stay up late and wake up early just to get extra time to do a mission or two. My wife would often wake up to the sound of sirens and think that they were outside the apartment, not on the TV in the next room. I was hooked. More than I had been hooked on the previous games in the series and more than I had been on any other game in a long time. From being chased by cops through the countryside to beating random strangers to death with a giant pink dildo, I couldn't get enough.
Eventually, I did get enough. I suppose random killings and car chases can get boring after a while. So I let the Rifleman borrow it. Of course, desire set in while he had the game and I couldn't wait to get my hands back on the game for more random acts of violence. A couple of weeks later, he returned it to me and I returned to my crazed killing. In the meantime, though, I had bought Resident Evil 4 and was almost as obsessed with it, because killing zombies rocks. So I put San Andreas to the side for a while.
A couple of weeks ago, I was out to lunch with my good friend Matt from Flux Minor
and he told me he hadn't played San Andreas yet. So, I let him borrow it. And once again, the "don't know what you got 'till it's gone" syndrome set in. I've always seen video games as escapism or a way to live out fantasies that one would never dare attempt in real life.
Last week, a crazed man upset about a child custody case armed with a high powered semi-automatic rifle started shooting up the town square here in the sleepy town of Tyler. He killed his ex-wife, shot his own son in the leg, and killed an armed civilian that was attempting to put an end to the whole mess. All of a sudden, the desire to play Grand Theft Auto disappeared. I thought to myself that in the game, I have been the crazed killer decked out in body armor with an assault rifle killing people in the town square. I have led cops on a chase that ended in a shootout and with me dead. All in the game of course.
Don't panic. This isn't some treatise against video game violence. I'm sure I'll play Grand Theft Auto soon after I get it back from Matt, but in the meantime that escapism hits a little too close to home. Lately I have rediscovered the wonderful world of Emulators. For those of you that don't know, emulators are computer programs that basically work as a video game system on your computer. I can download and play games from my childhood that I remember spended so much time with, or discover classics that I never got around to. Right now, I am playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past which was released in 1993 for the Super Nintendo. This time, I intend to actually finish the game. And I will, unless of course the evil Ganon comes to Tyler and steals the Triforce and the princess. Then perhaps my desire to escape to the fantasy world of Hyrule will not be as strong.