Creative Play #4: GTA Bike Stunts

One somewhat popularly recognized kind of player creativity is the recording of “machinima,” or cinematic works created within a game engine. My favorite machinima by far are Grand Theft Auto bike stunt videos, for a number of reasons. I’m not actually a fan of so-called “sandbox” games. Open-world games such as the GTA series as marketed as letting the player “go anywhere and do anything,” but, in actuality, “doing anything” usually means driving around, shooting people, and blowing things up. I love the idea of turning this violent game into a tool for creative expression in motion through the intimate knowledge of how the gameworld’s physics operate. Some of these tricks are executed using ramps that already exist for basic, pre-designed stunts within the game, but Darkness and Kaneda use them to pull off much more flamboyant acrobatics than any typical player ever could; they also make creative use of how the bikes handle collision with small bumps, such as the tricks made by colliding with curbs and piles of rubbish. I enjoy that these videos aren’t trying to be “cinematic” per se, instead drawing from the tradition of extreme sports documentary for their framing and goal-setting (of course, the typical skating or BMX doc includes a lot more shots of tricks that failed, but it’s hard for non-connoisseurs to appreciate watching hours of failed stunts).

About Simon Ferrari

Developer relations guy at Indie Fund. Producer and adjunct professor in the NYU Game Center.
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