Thirteen years ago, one afternoon during English, my friend Justin, began telling me about this game he had just received. It was a game that you could walk around, drive a car, carry a gun, mow down pedestrians, and have high-speed chases with the Five-O. He kept going on about how he loved mowing down people on the sidewalk and stealing various vehicles. As he spoke more and more about the game, I came to realize that the things that he loved doing in the game weren't the objective of the game. They were things that you could just do. You could play the game the way you want to play it. This intrigued me. I wasn't so much excited for the shooting and vehicular manslaughter, as I was for the prospect that the game would let me do whatever I wanted to do. This was a new concept to me.
That day, after the bus ride back from school, I followed Justin home. He had recruited another one of our friends for the trip. We made our way up to his bedroom, where we found his Playstation primed and ready for our afternoon. Justin gave us a demonstration on how to play the game, or at least how he played the game. We began taking turns trying to wreak as much havoc as possible before the police killed us. It was hilarious. It created intense moments where we were sure that a kamakazi police car would take us out at any moment. We created our own game within the game; Run down every person in a red shirt (a la Star Trek). The hours quickly passed, and dinner time was nearing. One thing was clear when I left and made my trek home. I must own this game.
The next weekend I had my parents take me by the local game shop. I used money that I had recently received for Christmas to buy Grand Theft Auto and Syphon Filter (Syphon Filter has no relevance to this story. I just had an incredible "ah-ha" moment when recalling this day. I also wanted to give a nod to anyone who remembers that game.). I got the games home and dove right in to GTA. Many people wearing red shirts were ran down that day. Once I tired of my "killing spree" game mode I had created for myself, I decided to just drive around and explore. I obeyed traffic laws, and was polite to other cars and pedestrians. I continued to play this game for months. I don't think I ever finished the story in the game. The missions were played until all the areas were unlocked, or until my thumbs hurt. I just wanted more places to explore.
Though I never "completed" GTA, it remains as one of my favorites. It spawned an amazing series of games, and was a lot of fun in its own right. If you'll excuse me, Steam just finished downloading Grand Theft Auto, and I have people in red shirts to run over.