As part of my PhD research I am undertaking case studies of various AAA videogame titles. These end up taking the form of long critical reviews with essay-like analysis in the latter half of the piece. Many of these will be appearing in the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds as reviews, with supplementary information that just doesn't fit in a stand-alone article on my Videogames Reference Wiki. So far they all contain a longish discussion of the narrative and game mechanics, with some critical judgment of each in turn. I will analyse the narrative in terms of story-telling, and make some recommendations, or refer to those of others. Similarly with the mechanics, I have done some work to understand their 'gameness' and their relationship to the narrative framework. The Assassin's Creed article below is an example of the results of one such study. (Or two since AC1 and AC2 consisted of two separate sections in my thesis and in the journal.)
One game I have yet to tackle is Grand Theft Auto IV. Though it is quite old now (wow, 2 years is old?) I will be revisiting Liberty City and writing out my adventures there for the first time in the coming weeks. I left this one late intentionally because I felt I needed some practice at this craft of criticism before tackling such a monumental example as GTA4. And yes, I do begin this task with the bias that GTA4 is a monument. There is simply so much in it. I wanted to have some kind of framework that would help me hang onto the wildly differing array of topics that is sure to come up when I play through this thing again, and I think the time is just about right.
So what I have here are a list of topics, themes, points and questions that I hope to address in some way as I play through this game. They are not in any particular order, but the groupings are how I am at this point understanding certain clusters and relationships. Please feel free to comment with additions or omissions. Please feel free to reference your own work as I am happy to synthesize and cite any other analysis that will make this work deeper and better rounded. So here we go: