In Alix Lambert’s book CRIME: A Series of Extraordinary Interviews Exposing the World of Crime - Real and Imagined, rap star Ice-T and author/filmmaker Nelson George speak on a variety of topics surrounding criminal tendencies and mentality, as excerpted by The Guardian.
The two touch on various topics, with one being of particular relevance today with the recent release of the latest chapter in the Grand Theft Auto video game series. “I love them,” proclaimed Ice-T. “The best one is Grand Theft Auto, which is just fucking mayhem. I'm in the Scarface game, which teaches you how to sell drugs, and I was in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I played a cracked-out rap star who had his lyrics stolen and the person that stole them became a star. So I went on crack and by the end of the game I get my reputation and my mansion back. You start off as a kid in South Central LA, you build up your rep and then you get a gang. It's definitely some crazy shit.”
As Ice-T confesses his passion for video games, Nelson George takes it to the next level as he said, “Video games are more important than hip-hop. There's no doubt about it. The violence and nihilism that everyone thinks is in hip-hop is pumped up about 18 times in video games. That's really what's driving young male culture, that's really the new rock'n'roll.”
Ice-T spoke on the second Grand Theft Auto game on the PS2, “The Vice City games are the worst shit ever - in a good way. It's so intentionally wrong that you've got to get into it. You go, "Oh my God, if I'm out of money I just rob a liquor store. Inside this world, all the things that you think about, you can do.”
George continued, “The funny thing about this debate is so many hip-hop critics are fixated on rap and not talking enough about video games, which aren't a racially determinant form. Obviously those Grand Theft Auto guys were very canny because they tied in to Scarface, they tied in to hip-hop. I mean, Def Jam has a line of video games. Hip-hop became subsumed into the games.
As a filmmaker himself, George draws parallels between video games and movies. “With video games the relationship to the culture is different, they're much more like movies. They're a really interesting hybrid. The Grand Theft Auto dudes were all about figuring out how to tap into urban culture. Video games, like movies, take in so many disciplines.”
While both hip-hop and video games have been scapegoats for violence, Ice-T turns it around and sees video games such as Grand Theft Auto as outlets for aggressive feelings. “Does that make you want to do it in real life? No. To me it diffuses it. People say video games make kids violent. I don't think so. It can be an outlet for that aggression. It's a masculine thing. Human beings have some weird blood lust, it roots back to us being animals. It's ill, though.”