Hoo boy, this one is gonna cost me. See, there’s no way I can do this without ACTIVELY enraging GTA fans. And this is a fact. GTA fans are not going to like this one. I would however, like you guys to read it, because I am someone who loves games, I see them as the ultimate art form, and GTA is an AMAZING technical achievement in that field. However, being that it’s GTA, and now the best selling video game of all time, It will be a target for people who target video games. There will be another event, like a mass shooting, that will be blamed on GTA. And we as gamers have to defend it. But I can’t. And there’s a big filthy sociopathic elephant in the room as to why not. Its name is Trevor.
Franklin? Not a problem. He’s a street kid trying to get out of a bad life. He doesn’t like that he has to kill his way to success, but he does so with the aim of eventually being able to stop. To be done with it and live a life violence free. He’s kinda like Stringer Bell from The Wire. He knows there’s a better life to be had, and it’s much easier to have that life legally. That’s what he’s aiming for.
Michael has a similar deal. He’s unhappy with his life and wants to change it. Being a Career Criminal, he’s changing his life the only way he knows how. These two are violent murderers, yes, but there’s an end game at play here. They’re motivations for doing horrible things are justified within the story. And then there’s Trevor. And frankly, I can’t defend Trevor. He is the worst thing to happen to games in a long time.
Now let’s be clear here. I don’t personally hate Trevor as a character. I mean, I do, but I think I’m supposed to. He’s got absolutely no redeeming features. He’s a monster, a reckless monster and he’s proud of it. There’s an interesting character there. Many people on the internet have said how interesting it is to have someone you morally object to as your protagonist, and the idea that it’s potential for a change (see one Nathan Drake, part time archeologist, full time murderer) is actually a step towards a more artistic outing. There is no justification for what Trevor does other than “Because he can”. At least that’s what I think they were going for. The problem then arises: “Why?”
Call me stuck up if you want, but I believe that there should be a reason behind every choice within an artwork. And Trevor is certainly a choice someone has made. I am trying to twist my brain and figure out WHY Trevor was a choice somebody made, and I’m coming up blank. If it was to make us play as a monster, they didn’t do a very good job, because partway through the game I’m supposed to feel bad for him.
At one point he’s upset because his feelings were hurt several years ago (incidentally there are no indicators showing that he was any better BEFORE this incident), and in the next cutscene he murders his protege’s friends in their own home. Is this supposed to be an exploration of a psychopath, Dexter style? A very sick individual, trying his best to come to terms with his own monstrousness and learning to deal with it? I don’t think so. I mean with Dexter, it’s clear he has no remorse but as the series goes on, he develops relationships and attachments that are close enough to emotional they might as well be genuinely emotional. He grows as a character, Trevor, does not.
Was Rockstar trying to comment on something? I’ve heard the theories, like he’s supposed to be a parody of how GTA players run wild on the games, but I don’t believe that. I don't think even the most violent people in sandbox games are this malicious. I mean, they might accidentally run someone down when they’re in a hurry to get from A to B, but I don’t think too many of them would actively hunt people to run down. And even in this case, these are virtual people. People who have no impact on the story, virtual non-entities.
Maybe he’s like The Joker. So insane that he transcends his own reality and see’s things as they really are. He is a character in a videogame, but maybe he knows it. Perhaps he’s aware that nobody in his world means anything. He’s not killing people, he’s removing NPCs. This doesn’t MAKE him any less of a monster, but it at least justifies the his nonchalant attitude to maiming and torturing. Maybe he knows exactly how unreal he is. Was THAT what Rockstar was going for?
Whatever the reason is, here’s the point I’m clumsily aiming at. Trevor is such an easy target. So utterly perfect for anybody who wants to blame video games for the destruction of society. Everyone’s favourite character from the best selling video game of all time cannot be justified and that scares me. It should be reasonably clear that I do not think videogames will spend the end of society, any more than comic books or movies or television were. I am, however, not the problem. There are people out there who ARE the problem. Trevor will come under fire and as gamers, it’s our job to defend his right to exist, in all his horrible, hedonistic glory.
Once a Reality TV Somebody,
Now just a big kid who loves video games, and the telling people about them.