GTA 6: their leaks, our enthusiasm threatened

The ontology of the video game through the phenomenon of the leak, that is, it is nice to know things first, but we would like the times of the authors to be respected.

The sudden and dramatic leak made against GTA 6 has had side effects at any height of the gaming industry. Rockstar Games and Take Two have taken a hard hit, suffering incalculable damage not only in monetary terms. The community of publishers and developers around the world has gathered around the company founded and directed by Sam Houser, expressing solidarity and regret for what happened. The specialized press, for its part, followed the story with apprehension, commenting, as it should be, a news story of absolute importance, consciously choosing whether or not to publish the stolen material.

The passionate from all over the world, for their part, have reacted in the most disparate ways. On social media they expressed disappointment, closeness, regret. But also joy, relief, sincere surprise. Obviously it was also the ideal opportunity to download a bit of spite on the web, as if there was not enough already, blaming the reluctance with which Rockstar updates the audience on the state of the games in development, harshly criticizing the backwardness of the graphic sector of the material viewed, postponing, more or less in good faith, the fact that it was a build from several years ago.

Thinking about the contrast of feelings so opposed and antithetical to each other, one is tempted by the idea of ​​launching hypotheses and conjectures which, even without any claim to be definitive or conclusive, try in some way to further trace the boundaries, the contours, however faded and changeable, of a fickle and changing medium like that of video games. After all, the diatribe on the ontology of our favorite hobby is far from being dismissed.

Depending on the interlocutor and the point of view adopted, the video game is at the same time a commodity to be sold and a work of art to be enjoyed. An opposition, also this and not surprisingly, irreconcilable on paper, but which has actually already been overcome in other adjacent sectors, think of the cinema, for example, which thrives on torn tickets (and increasingly on paid subscriptions), but whose aesthetic caliber is now universally considered and accepted.

Leak and hype

And it is perhaps the relationship between leak and hype to raise a not just philosophical question. Because if from many fronts barricades are rightly beginning to rise for the full respect, sacred and holy, of the authorial vision on the video game – controversy that has returned to the fore with Elden Ring and on the possibility, invoked by many, of introducing a difficulty selector – also for what happened to GTA VI (but there would be many other similar cases) it would be the case to be particularly indignant.

In an industry that, thanks to COVID and the consequent reset of events in attendance, struggles to manage the enthusiasm of fans, between lapidary tweets that coldly announce triple A release dates as if nothing had happened and soporific and rhythmic digital conferences lopsided, the phenomenon of leaks is yet another low blow to the little boy who dwells inside us, craving for sugars, to bask in some harmless vice, to get excited seeing Shigeru Miyamoto go up on a stage, armed with Master Sword, just to show the trailer of what will be next The Legend of Zelda.

Shigeru Miyamoto

If art originates somewhere, that indefinite point of space-time is certainly the expectation, the enthusiasm that springs from the certainty of being on the verge of discovering something not seen, not known, not derivative. The avant-garde of the early twentieth century, just to give an example within everyone’s reach, they founded their raison d’etre on detaching themselves clearly from everything that had been there before; since the dawn of time, any author and screenwriter is damned to give life to a story in its original way, even when the current to which it refers lives on returns, cross-references, recurring formulas. It is not even a coincidence that contemporary art has finally become conceptual, immaterial matter with which to transfer the amazement and provocation from the physical object, which still continues to exist, of course, to the purely mental and ideal sphere.

Walter Benjaminmoreover, in the mid-1930s of the last century, in his most famous essay, he inveighed against the technical reproducibility of art, criticizing the progressive standardization he was experiencing in those years, which somehow dampened, mutilated, mortified the innovative drive that human creativity should always pursue.

Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin

Nowadays this issue can be said to be totally outdated, although the more purely political and social warnings of The work of art in the era of its technical reproducibility should be read and reread carefully. Submerged as we are by digital art, although the race (already over?) To NFT, paradoxically, wants to lead us back to the uniqueness ofartworkif anything, the point of the question has moved elsewhere, in the aforementioned possibility, as spectators, of being able at least to surprise us, to grant ourselves the right to gradually discover the work in question.

At the cinema, more and more explicit and spectacular trailers are composed almost like a collection of highlights of the current film, often resulting in heavy spoilers on the plot itself. As often happens, video games follow the closest relative, revealing the same problem, further exacerbated by the scourge of information, image and video leaks.

The GTA 6 case

GTA VI, it is undeniable, it would have deserved a presentation with all the trappings of the case. Having been able to grant him such a luxury would not only have been a form of respect towards the developer, but also towards the public itself who, today, draws hypotheses and bases his dreams on about ninety videos graphically far from up to scratch. expectations and on a couple of characters, now almost certainly the next protagonists of GTA VI, whose final design will certainly be different from the one seen in these days.

While it is true that this involuntary anticipation will hardly ruin the final experience, it is equally significant to underline how correct communication in the promotional phase, as well as the careful and wise management of hype and fan expectations, can somehow become an integral part. of the experience itself, to become, by emphasizing the concept, art itself. The most striking example, and perhaps really devoid of major precedents in this sense, is Death Stranding. Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece, presented for the first time at E3 2016, trailer after trailer played mischievously with the imagination and enthusiasm of the fans, revealing only little by little the narrative context and the main game mechanics that they would make up. the adventure, an epic, that of Sam Porter Bridges, the main implications of which fortunately remained unknown until the game was published. The unseen, the unknown, we said just above, that exciting uncertainty that translates into one creative driveon the part of the audience, which in turn becomes an artistic construction, which further enriches the work and, in some cases, gives it an additional significant layer, potentially not even imagined by the developers themselves.

The leak of GTA VI, even without considering the enormous damage suffered by Rockstar Games, represented and represents a great missed opportunity for the world of video games. We will never know what emotions and sensations we would have felt at the time of the real reveal, nor can we be sure that what happened will not make heavy changes in the schedules of the marketing department involved in the production of the game.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope was also the victim of a leak ... by Nintendo
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope was also the victim of a leak … by Nintendo

When finally GTA VI debuts we will have enormous fun without any doubt, but at the time of the technical reproducibility of the art we would like to be able to get excited and passionate without annoying leaks.

Ultimately, we would like to be able to consider the video game also as an art, thus being able to enjoy it in its own time and manner, and not (only) as a commodity to be used and thrown away as quickly as possible.

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GTA 6: their leaks, our enthusiasm threatened

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