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"Ain't the American Dream Grand": Satirical Play in Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V

Wills, John (2021) "Ain't the American Dream Grand": Satirical Play in Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V. European Journal of American Studies, 16 (3). Article Number 3. E-ISSN 1991-9336. (doi:10.4000/ejas.17274) (KAR id:91144)

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Rockstar Games is a video game publisher famous for its immersive and highly detailed action-adventure titles set in America, thanks to its two main franchises, Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto. This article explores how Rockstar employs the location and game play elements of Grand Theft Auto V (2013), a title that has now generated over $6 billion in worldwide sales, to critique elements of American culture, politics, and lifestyle. Presented by Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser as “the endpoint of the American dream,” Grand Theft Auto V provides a crime-laden journey through a simulated Southern California landscape (“San Andreas”). The game is awash with social and political commentary. Of interest here is how, through specific game mechanics such as “satirical play,” the title targets the concept of “the American Dream,” and exposes themes of excess consumption, fake-ness, and social decay in the Californian and broader American experience. Exposition of these themes is, however, compromised by Rockstar’s primary commitment to deliver a mainstream gameplay experience, resulting in mixed messages and moments of ludonarrative dissonance.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.4000/ejas.17274
Uncontrolled keywords: Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto, Satire, Play, American Dream
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation. Leisure
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: John Wills
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 11:30 UTC
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2021 10:58 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Wills, John:
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