Now more than ever people associate Baltimore with the popular HBO series “The Wire.” What better in the aftermath of the 2015 riots than to create a game that makes social commentary on the true living conditions in Baltimore? The world doesn’t know it needs it yet, but it is time to create a video game where Grand Theft Auto meets “The Wire”.
Millions of gamers have made some sort of connection to the Grand Theft Auto series since the game’s initial release in 1997. Whether it’s the classic San Andreas or the modern GTA V, most people have either played, known someone who owns it, or overheard talk about the game. It’s fun, it’s expansive, and it’s real. That doesn’t mean it’s realistic – most people do not drive like maniacs and successfully evade police. It’s real because it is meant to appear like a modern day game in a more tangible, grounded setting, unlike popular fantasy titles like Skyrim.
After the success of GTA: San Andreas, Rockstar Games is at the perfect point to go away from imaginary cities and dive into true reality. For those who don’t know, “The Wire” is based on a true story. David Simon, the creator of the series, based a majority of key characters on real people he had either known or written about during his tenure at the The Baltimore Sun. The storyline is so entrenched in real stories that the transition to the virtual world would be flawless.
Grand Theft Auto V uses several characters with intertwining story arcs that all mesh into one. “The Wire” does the exact same thing; the only difference being the use of a police perspective in conjunction with a criminal one. However, the switch in viewpoints is what makes the show so compelling. Giving the public a form of duality with different sides of the same story is just what the game franchise needs.
If a videogame version of “The Wire” did come to fruition, there would be a lot of interest in playing the Omar Little character. He’s ruthless, conniving, and honorable all wrapped into one package. Also, people love the idea of being the vigilante who plays by their own set of rules. That’s what makes Batman such a popular comic book character. Not to mention there are several other roles the American public would enjoy playing. There’s the up-and-coming drug dealer DeAngelo Barksdale, his Kingpin Uncle Avon Barksdale, the alcoholic good cop turned corrupt Jimmy McNulty, and more. These alone can make a near perfect game, but there’s more for everyone.
Since “The Wire” is based on a true story, it could be used as social commentary onthe reality of living in Baltimore. The main problem with “The Wire” is that you cannot watch it unless you pay for HBO, a premium channel. With a video game version, the audience only has to pay once and they get immediate exposure. The game could recreate real towns in Baltimore and display what really happens there. The drug deals, the shootouts, as well as police shortcomings stemming from inadequate funding. Think of how challenging getting through a level in the game playing as a cop with just a semi-automatic Glock while the criminals have Mac 10s.
Most other games give you the ability to obtain equal or greater levels of firepower that give the player an advantage. In a videogame version of “The Wire,” players would be stuck using what each character would have in real life. Omar has his shotgun, the dealers have to be able to get rid of their guns after every kill, and the police aren’t funded with what they really need.
A game like this forces people to work with real life realities and challenges. A game like this forces its audience to see just how rough the bad side of Baltimore can really be.