Itís astounding what a spinning disc can contain. The city is bustling with activity. People are working and running errands. Cars speed along the streets while trash blows across their paths. Iím walking down Deadwood Street, right about where it turns into Mohegan Avenue. Thereís a park behind me, out of sight. It usually seems to be empty this time of night. I am not really me, but an Eastern European immigrant slinking down a sidewalk in a universe apart from our ownóone generated by computer components and rendered on a screen. In front of me are men standing outside edifices smoking cigarettes. On the next block, two men hop off the back of a garbage truck and empty a city trashcan. I walk past a homeless man under a bridge, who is babbling incoherently. All I can decipher is ďNooo, I donít have any carrots!Ē
What I donít see are dead policeman or pools of blood. The only people running are joggers exercising. I donít hear screaming or sirens or gunshots. In many regards, this violence is what drives the city, and videogame, which contains the city. The Grand Theft Auto series has an infamous reputation; associated with violence, drugs, profanity and sex. The latest installment is no exception, but the seedier aspects are left for the player to discover. The city is a free world to be explored by whoever chooses to be thrust into a situation with few resources and unclear goals. The mundane routine practiced by people in the city is a biting, accurate reflection of the American people and culture, to be enjoyed only when vehicular slaughter and firefights arenít priorities.
I stray across the street to see the name of the brightly lit store on the corner of the street. A car honks abruptly at me. I hadnít realize I was standing in the middle of the street. It sets off a chain of cars behind it honking in line. Oncoming cars pay little attention to the traffic jam building behind me. A taxi glides into a stopped minivan, denting the side and door. The store is a Pharmacy called Pill Pharm. The buildings here are short, around three or four stories. Their faces are adorned with old iron fire escapes. In the far distance, I can see sprawling skyscrapers; lit up red white and blue. Behind them, floating lights give away the locations of planes in the air. The stoplights around me cycle slowly.
When the asphalt reflects green, the crosswalks fill with people. Men and women walk, it seems, with intention and importance. I wonder what they think about their aimless labyrinth. Then I remember itís just a game. The man walking directly in front of me has on a black puffy jacket and white track pants. At one point, he turns and stares at me for a while, eventually lighting a cigarette. He throws the butt on the ground and continues walking, but he never seems to get anywhere. Another taxi, driving wildly, jumps the curb and smashes through a newspaper stand and into an oblivious woman, who is holding a cup of steaming liquid, which I guess to be coffee, and talking on her cell phone. Sheets of paper explode from the stand and flutter through the air. The driver exits the car and, presumably upon seeing the woman, turns and runs in the opposite direction until he is out of sight behind a building. The woman stands up, remarks that she needs a new pair of shoes, and walks off. Her white cup remains on the ground next to the empty taxicab. I wonder where her cell phone went. A policeman strolls by and dips the brim of his hat toward me.
Beneath an elevated train track, I stand in the same spot and watch the city move for a long time. With the coming of the morning sun, shadows appear and grow larger, the color of the world changes as the sun falls behind clouds and reappears during different times of the day. I wonder if it knows itís just going in circles. Itís just a game.