Digitized Violence For Sale

It is interesting to think that Rockstar and the Grand Theft Audio series of video games is such a lucrative franchise. It is interesting because of why it is so lucrative. These video games are taking a world only imagined by a specific demographic, a world that is only seen and heard of as if it were a made up fantasy setting in some folk tale. The franchise romanticizes the ghettos of America and its minorities and comodifies it and sells it at marked up prices through video games to white suburban youth.

These video games to those distant from these worlds to those familiar with the ghettos are romanticized and dramatized as much as a WoW game. Yet the problem is that the characters present are so rarely seen in video games that a connection is made. Black and Latino characters are usually only played as in sports games which we know to be as realistic as possible, so when youth see these kinds of characters in a different setting they assume that this in turn must be true. Further that minorities if not playing sports, are merely out causing crime.

We saw this in class when some students could not understand why when Professor Stenger when explaining a scene in the Grand Theft Auto game that captured a woman being driven on a drive by shooting , who was heard speaking in a much more stereotypical way of inner city minorities, yet the written caption of what she said was much more easy to read for those who would not be exposed to such a lifestyle. In short it was translated for the suburban white youth who purchase the game. It seemed like a service rockstar was doing for its main demographic which they cater to. The explicit translation was clearly a racial comment. Yet some in class could not understand. While yes the main argument was that many video games do translate language and have captions, the translated language was english, it was not in a difficult accent, it was not a different dialect, it was just slightly more colloquial than some are used too. When other video games do this it is usually across species or language, so for that to have been done to an english speaking American was rather insulting.

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