Grand Theft Auto as Sartrean Hell
I had Franklin take out his phone to snap the view. It was the first time I’d used the phone in the game, and I noticed I could click the right stick to make Franklin turn the camera around on himself. The character model’s position, expression — phone at arm’s length, slightly angled, the selfie-expression open, bewildered, positive — was perfect. Innocent, even. I don’t belong to Rockstar Social Club, the social network membership required for me to be able to save photos, but I took it anyway, pretending Franklin could show his unhinged friend Lamar back home, the one who claims his “Apache blood” forces him to escalate dangerous gangland conflicts.
Then the train came. It struck my parked bike, and then me. I saw Franklin’s stunned and mangled body. Then I saw him dazedly exit some small town hospital, as if the adventure had all been a dream. There really wasn’t anything else for me to do but drive back. Find another mission. Probably kill some more faceless gangsters, in a game where the best compliment you can give to its third-person shooting is that it’s practically automated.