Chicago Trib Asks "Is GTA This Century's Best Writing?"

The profile of Rockstar and the Housers doesn't really answer that (beyond mentioning the Goatie we gave it for writing). But the writer talks to critics and eggheads who say it's a legitimate question.

"Look at film in 1908 — there was no sound, you viewed it through a nickoleodeon, there was a limited filmic language developed. If at the time you had said film would be the literature of 20th Century, you would have been laughed at," said Chris Swain, assistant professor of interactive media at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. "Games could be the literature of the 21st Century. But it takes vision."

The soundtrack is also another evolution in, or departure from, the linear model of visual and recording arts.

Brown University ethnomusicologist Kiri Miller points out, the use of radio in "GTA IV" lets gamers choose their own soundtracks: speed metal for a high-speed chase, bebop for a nighttime cruise around the city. Choosing a station lets players set their own mood and illuminate their own character ... "In 'GTA IV,' the radio is speaking more to the player and not so much the avatar," says Miller, "and in 'San Andreas,' you could hear the radio really speaking to the avatar, and that, I thought, was an incredible achievement."

The story's peg is the upcoming release of Chinatown Wars. And there's not much in the profile that's going to tell you what you don't know. (Although Rockstar does have an office dog named Niko.) It's interesting because it's mainstream media, of course, raising a point probably not yet considered by many among its readership.

And the lede, I'd never really thought of it this way: "Books let us imagine the impossible. Movies let us see the impossible. Video games let us do the impossible." Can't wait to do some impossible tonight.

Is Grand Theft Auto IV the Greatest Writing of the Century? [Chicago Tribune, thanks weber12]