It started in the very end of the last century. The need to roam free, in a Different World, even if only digital, playing by your own rules.
By the time we watched Fight Club in the movies and were rambling about the peculiarities of choice inside the Matrix's first installment - it had already been there. Two-dimensional Race'n'Chase open world that has transformed into "Grand Theft Auto". It took almost twenty years to develop it into what most people know now as one of the most popular video games of all times that debunked all possible competence in entertainment industry in September 2013.
To be honest - I vaguely remember myself playing that first PC version - but what I do hold in mind - is that exciting feeling of freedom and open choice. That thrill to discover something that hasn't been described on any "supporting pages", which Grand Theft Auto gameplay has conserved to these days.
I skipped GTA III and San Andreas, but on GTA IV I could drive around Liberty City for hours - and be absolutely happy to tumble upon a beautiful red F620 hidden in the suburbs, or make up my mind to go all the way to Westdyke and get that Sultan RS - just to discover somebody else already driving it - and it would be an impromptu chase through the city - hit or miss. Or I would fly through the the narrow streets of Algonquin to the Happiness Island to visit the Heart of the City again and again.
Nothing special, you may say, however, there's no other game that makes a similar experience memorable. Thanks to the exceptional team of artists, designers, developers and musicians - this game just feels different. Its music, its colors and its ambiance - be it the sun shining through the rain or the messages written on billboards - all together create a perfect Different World. We know that it's a surrogate world - but it's the only one of what I've seen around from other game developers that doesn't feel like a cheap imitation. And even more so - its ultimate version, Grand Theft Auto V.
I can never stop admiring the fact that you can actually appreciate the presence of air in GTAV. Not a single other game has managed to recreate the atmosphere so closely to the real world. Is is always in motion, every little detail is there - the grass and the trees in the mountains, the bits of paper and the elevators in the city, the waves at sea, and even the snow. The experience is so rich - that you don't even have time to register all that is happening around you.
The next generation console's and modern PC potential have added even more to the whole concept of an open world, where, besides the environment, the gameplay is getting more and more embellished. The helicopters and planes experience turbulence, the cars have more and more options being added [however there is a wide variety of opinions on it]. The boats can be caught in storm - and it's real fun to surf the wave! With the latest update on GTA Online players can acquire a super yacht - which by now cannot be driven - but I guess it is only a question of time.
So for people with imagination and good sense of humor - there are innumerable options to create and digitally live their own story whenever they feel like it. Action for the actors - material for the movie directors - races for the ambitious - possessions for the collectors - stories for the observers.
The perfect parody - may it become a parody on itself someday? I'll be happy to share my thoughts on its future next time.
Thanks for reading
Stay tuned :)