On April 28, the front page story on the New York Times’ Arts section wasn’t about a new Broadway play or a hot new CD or even a blockbuster summer movie. It was a balanced, 1,100-word review of Grand Theft Auto IV that described the game as a “violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun.”
The Times wasn’t alone. Kotaku’s Brian Crecente briefly returned to the Rocky Mountain News to write a major 2,000-word feature on his five days locked in a room with the game. Marc Saltzman compared it to “an interactive episode of The Sopranos” from the pages of USA Today. MSNBC noted in a subhead that it’s “a blast to play a criminal in a safe, consequence-free environment.”
As much as Grand Theft Auto IV is being hailed as a revolution in gaming, its release also seems to herald a revolution in mainstream coverage of gaming itself.