Monday, 20 January 2014

How stereotypical are the representations seen within GTA4?


GTA 4 is a free roam, action-adventure game based in a fictitious state called Liberty City. The game was created by Rockstar in 2008, and has been released over various gaming platforms, such as the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.
Representation is the way in which an audience is offered a different version of reality seen within many media texts. It is important to remember that media texts are constructed, and they they go through a process of mediation. Producers of media texts often encode them with messages and their own ideas, often making them biased and an untrue representation of reality. There are many different representations of gender, class, and race seen within GTA 4.
Male characters within GTA 4 are often represented as violent. This can be seen through the narrative of the game, where the main protagonist can kill, abuse and injure any character that they come across. As well as this, the character also has the choice of carrying weapons, or just resorting to physical violence. Male characters within the game predominantly act violent to carry out crimes. These crimes range from petty theft, to murder. These are just a few of the many moral dilemmas that players face.
As well as this, male characters are often viewed as dominant in a sexual nature. Throughout the game players can interact with prostitutes, after which they can also kill them and take back the money that they pay. Another example of this is where players have the option of having and maintaining multiple relationships with various female characters throughout the game. Perhaps this could be seen as a stereotypical view of males, as within the media they are often portrayed as being the more dominant character within relationships, and monogomy could be viewed as a thing of the past. However, we could also take this game as a satirical, where perhaps the creators are in fact making a mock of particular gender stereotypes.
Females within GTA 4 are often objectified. For example, the loading screen of the game features many images of women. These women are sexualised, as they wear very revealing clothing, and are often pictured in provocative ways. This can be seen as very degrading for females. As well as being seen in a sexual manner, female characters within the game are often represented as weak. For example, none of the lead characters are female, and none of the female characters really have their own storyline, as most of the female characters we are introduced to are a male characters girlfriend. No female characters in the game stand up to the male characters. This can be seen through the female characters that are prostitutes. Again, this is degrading, and they do not try to defend themselves against the male characters who are free to kill them. This is generally a very stereotypical view of females, as they are often portrayed as weak within the media. However, it is becoming increasingly more popular to have female heroes within many action films.
In GTA 4 we encounter many different representations of race. Through the character of Little Jacob we see the stereotypical view of Jamaicans. For example, when Little Jacob is in a car, there is always a lot of smoke coming from the car windows, suggesting heavy smoking, perhaps of drugs. According to the offical GTA website, he is seen as the 'archetypal Rastafarian'. This is seen through his use of speech, as he speaks in lyaric, often discussing Rasta ideals. Another stereotypical part of his personality is his music taste, as he listens to many radio stations within the game that play Reggae music.
He is often represented as loyal throughout the game, as he never leaves Nikos side. As well as this, he often provides advice to various characters, such as warning them to stop taking drugs etc. This is a very unstereotypical view.
Through the character of Patrick McReary we see a representation of Irish people. This character is seen to have a problem with alcohol, thus conforming to the stereotypical view of the Irish. However, Phil Bell is not entirely Italian, as he is 90% Irish. He acts as if he is full Italian to fit in with the Mafioso by using lots of Italian phrases, as well as by calling the Irish gangs 'Irish idiots'. This suggests that perhaps he is ashamed of his heritage, truly wishing that he was Italian.
Through the character of Ray Boccino we see a representation of Italians. Ray Boccino is seen as a Capo, who dishes out orders to others to commit various crimes on his behalf. This is a stereotypical view of an Italian mobster.
Through the character of Manny Escuela we see a representation of Puerto Ricans. At first he is represented in a stereotypical light, as he is a gangster who is heavily addicted to heroin. However, he later tries to clean up his act, as well as try to clean up the streets, showing an unstereotypical view. It is important to note that this may because he is trying to get famous.
As well as these representations, we are also represented with a stereotypical view of Americans in general. This emphasis's the satirical nature of the game, as there are many points throughout the game where social commentary is made.
Class is represented throughout the game through the idea of the rags to riches storyline, where characters such as Niko come to the US in order to try and make a better life for themselves. Essentially, all game play revolves around this main theme.

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