Today, I'm going to tell you about the time my grandfather shot a man in the ass
October 17, 2012 5:27 AM   Subscribe

Rockstar's open-world police procedural is set in 1947. Dad was born in 1943, and he spent his early years in Crenshaw, a district in the south-west of the city. (It's close to where the body of the Black Dahlia was found.) Best of all, his dad was a beat cop - a beat cop who, as we've already discovered, once shot a guilty man in the ass. The game world was the world of dad's childhood, then. Would he recognise it?
posted by liquidindian (43 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
In a similar vein: A Real Detective Plays L.A. Noire.
posted by liquidindian at 5:42 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, amazing feature! Games have such an exciting opportunity these days to realize the architecture and cities of the past in a way no other medium can. It's beyond cool we're finally starting to see creators take advantage of interactivity and 3D like that.

Also, if anyone ever called me "Sergeant Harry 'Deadeye' Donlan: The Cop With The Eyes That Never Forget" I'd tattoo it on my face or something, holy crap.
posted by sonmi at 5:42 AM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


The build-up to finding the Richfield Tower was kind of pointless without a screenshot of how it looks in the game. Especially to compare it to the photo of the actual building.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:44 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


That was great. It did practically cry out for some screenshots, but the strength of that game is driving around period LA. The pixel hunting and interrogations were a Shelf Level Event for me with that game, but if it had just been released as GTA:Gumshoe or something I would have enjoyed it much more than I did.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:52 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My parents' hometown was literally destroyed to save it (from flooding and "moved" to the other side of the river). I would love the chance to take a virtual tour with them like this guy did with his father.
posted by Atreides at 6:00 AM on October 17, 2012


I'm reminded a little of when Project Gotham Racing 2 was released when I lived in Edinburgh, and I joined in with friends at peering at the screen to see what accurate details they had included in their Edinburgh track.

Or even when we all first accessed Google Earth - the first thing we all did was have a look at places we knew.

Games offer us access to thousands of exotic and unreal worlds, but we really sit up and take notice when they show us something familar.
posted by liquidindian at 6:01 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


My grandfather worked at Hughes Aircraft in the 40s (I actually have some blocks that he made for my mom out of Spruce Goose scraps) and while I was driving around in this game I really wished he were still alive so I could show it to him.

The game I found to be a sort of innovative failure, but driving around and seeing the city at least sort of how he saw it was fascinating and actually kind of moving.
posted by Huck500 at 6:08 AM on October 17, 2012


With all the faults and flaws Rockstar games usually have, they get the time and place down very, very well. I'm not surprised by this at all (however, I am both delighted and a little misty-eyed.) I grew up in Brooklyn, but I lived in L.A. for a short while, and while I was there, the teaser trailer for GTA IV came out. Watching it, I got hit with a wave of nostalgia so hard I'd never felt anything like it before.
posted by griphus at 6:13 AM on October 17, 2012


The bit about cop cars not having whitewall tires reminds me of the rule of thumb for spotting unmarked cop cars I learned growing up, which was "Ford Crown Victoria with blackwall tires"
posted by rmd1023 at 6:23 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


The bit about cop cars not having whitewall tires reminds me of the rule of thumb for spotting unmarked cop cars I learned growing up, which was "Ford Crown Victoria with blackwall tires"

I still always think Crown Vics are cop cars, which these days means I'm prone to hitting my brakes when cabs pull in behind me.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:25 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


For sure, I've definitely experienced it the other way. After years of GTA 3 and IV running around in Liberty City, I visited NYC for the first time this summer. I was constantly irritating my friends with "Awww, I've been here... in GTA." and "Awww, I killed someone in this bathroom... in GTA."

Pity that L.A. Noire didn't really encourage that much exploration of the city.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:26 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed this article. It would be awesome to have this opportunity with my own father, who was raised in Brooklyn not far from where I now live. (He had moved to the suburbs to raise me and my siblings)
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 6:29 AM on October 17, 2012


I look forward to the time, thirty years from now, when someone (preferably not Rockstar) makes a game set in late '80s Adelaide, so I can cruise around in a rusty brown Datsun 1200 searching out photorealistic versions of the landmarks of the past... the Malls Balls, Westfield Marion, the waterslides at Magic Mountain, Dazzeland...
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:32 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


griphus, you may feel that wave in reverse with Rockstar's GTA V.
posted by linux at 6:33 AM on October 17, 2012


With all the faults and flaws Rockstar games usually have, they get the time and place down very, very well.

Yes! And one of the frustrations is that after spending all that time creating these environments, they then squander them a bit.

Take GTA IV. All that time spent creating a city that creates the illusion of being a living breathing place - billboards, shop fronts, parks, hi-rises, slums, the lot. And all it's used for is one game and a couple of expansion packs.

I'm not asking for more GTA, but I've always thought it's a bit of a waste to throw it away and start again. How about a racing game? A Mirror's Edge-type parkour simulator across all those rooftops? An RTS using rival gangs? Maybe even yet another near-future modern warfare FPS? It just seems a waste to throw these places away after one use.

LA Noire is a particularly egregious example. Given its flaws and its troubled development, it seems unlikely it will get a sequel, or that someone will attempt something similar. So this apparently-accurate simulation of 1940s LA gets one outing, and that's it. Maybe developers should start treating these environments more like studio backlots.
posted by liquidindian at 6:38 AM on October 17, 2012 [33 favorites]


Thanks for sharing this.

My favorite part of LA Noire is simply driving around looking at the incredible details that most people (understandably) wouldn't notice. I've spent plenty of time downtown and in Hollywood over the years, and each time I play it, I'll find another hidden true-to-life building that someone must've spent hours recreating.

I've wanted to show this to my grandparents, also. My grandpa moved to Hollywood from Minnesota in 1938, and my grandma came to Hollywood from Georgia in 1939.

Their lives as teenagers and young adults dealing with the war match characters from this game in incredible ways. They've both told me countless stories about old restaurants and theaters they loved, like Clifton's, the Egyptian, the Pig and Whistle... all places you can find.

I think when I go see them for Thanksgiving, I'll lug along the Playstation and give them a driving tour.
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:49 AM on October 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


Old Man McKay: I think when I go see them for Thanksgiving, I'll lug along the Playstation and give them a driving tour.

I would absolutely love to hear about that.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've mentioned it here before, but I'm still waiting for some game company to develop a game engine that generates worlds in real time based off of Google Maps/Earth data (GTA:Branson!).

Playing LA Noire I would often stop and admire the details like the tile work on a storefront or the trim around a door. Or look at a little bungalow and wonder if it was just built after WWII for a returning serviceman.
posted by sourwookie at 7:14 AM on October 17, 2012


I like how the article starts with a story about the author's grandfather basically shooting someone in the back.
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:41 AM on October 17, 2012


Well, no, it starts with his grandfather explicitly avoiding shooting someone in the back.
posted by griphus at 7:42 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


So this apparently-accurate simulation of 1940s LA gets one outing, and that's it. Maybe developers should start treating these environments more like studio backlots.

Modders certainly do.

Nothing like that for LA Noire yet. Give it a year.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:43 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


LA Noire could have been such a great game. I gave up when I got stuck on an interrogation, broke down and downloaded a walkthrough, and even with the correct answers in front of me still couldn't make sense of why asking about object A is correct and asking about object B is wrong. It's a beautifully designed and well-performed game of Read The Game Designer's Mind. Such a shame.
posted by ook at 7:59 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It helps to come to the game after having played the entire Phoenix Wright series, I think. Also to abuse the ability to back out of a “you're lying” dialog after you realize you shouldn't have done that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:17 AM on October 17, 2012


I have to agree with Ook's criticism of the game itself, but this is a really neat article. Thanks for posting it. I can only imagine how wonderful it would feel to read this article if you were someone who worked on the game.

"For a few hours I was able to re-explore the L.A. I knew in the late forties and early fifties with my son." That's incredibly cool and, I have to guess, not the type of benefit that you necessarily expect to be providing to the world when your job is in video games.
posted by cribcage at 8:33 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


For sure, I've definitely experienced it the other way. After years of GTA 3 and IV running around in Liberty City, I visited NYC for the first time this summer. I was constantly irritating my friends with "Awww, I've been here... in GTA." and "Awww, I killed someone in this bathroom... in GTA."

God yeah. When I went to Miami Beach right after 6 months of playing Vice City, my mind damn near melted.
posted by COBRA! at 8:36 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't love L.A. Noire as a game, but I loved this article.

Thanks, OP.
posted by HostBryan at 8:41 AM on October 17, 2012


Or even when we all first accessed Google Earth

Someone's going to do one of those vast Minecraft imports by harnessing it to Google Earth and that'll be that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:44 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I bought this over the summer on steam's sale, but just started playing it last week. As gameplay goes, it's odd and clunky, but yeah the environment is stunning. Both my parents grew up in LA in the 40's and 50's, I think I'll show it to them and see if they have a similar reaction.
posted by gofargogo at 8:54 AM on October 17, 2012


I found the interrogations incredibly frustrating as well. I was so anxious not to screw them up, thinking it would ruin the game, I actually stopped playing the game. Same with the driving. It was nerve wrecking. I guess I should go finish it up now that I read that how not to give a fuck site.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:49 AM on October 17, 2012


I'd always assumed it would be horribly inauthentic, given that it was made a long way from LA by a very rushed and miserable team.
posted by w0mbat at 9:55 AM on October 17, 2012


Conceptually related - the 1947 project, who document, preserve and organize walking tours of Noir LA, played a pre-release build of the game. Their write-up here is also interesting - archival rather than personal history coming up against the same fiction.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:03 AM on October 17, 2012


Favorite quote:
We're careening up Fig, and in the distance, the Architects Building, but see those letters atop? They read "Douglas Oil" and weren't placed there until after Douglas purchased the building in 1959. Guess you should probably be more worried about the big scary car crashing into you, and all the flying sparks, but, well, we each have our own issues.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:04 AM on October 17, 2012


Well, no, it starts with his grandfather explicitly avoiding shooting someone in the back.

Where's your ass? Mine's at the back. As in, opposite to the front.

If someone has "drawn a gun on" me, I'm not going to be able to shoot them in the ass. Did the author's grandfather do a Matrix-style backflip first? Bank shot? What?
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:02 PM on October 17, 2012


Shooting him in the back -- the part of the body under the neck and above the ass -- would've been the kill-shot that he was avoiding by aiming elsewhere. So, sure, if you want to interpret "back" as the general part of him that is defined by not being the front, he shot the guy in the back. But I'm not sure anyone would interpret the phrase "shot him in the back" as synonymous with "shot him in the ass to avoid killing him."
posted by griphus at 12:07 PM on October 17, 2012


"Shot him in the back" is often meant to be synonymous with "shot him while he was running away," which is what I assume rigfy was getting at.
posted by painquale at 12:17 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Shot him in the back" implies some sort of malfeasance or treachery, to my mind, and (as the story went) the shot occurred in the act of disregarding a shoot-to-kill protocol (the perp having previously drawn a gun).

If we believe the story given in the article, "shot him in the back" is indeed a bit glib.

Your interpretive mileage may vary.
posted by Earthtopus at 2:17 PM on October 17, 2012


Getting shot in the ass is a relief for everyone around; the cop saves face because he appears to have obeyed his [distantly overboard] orders, the fleeing armed suspect gets to keep breathing in the face of a what had, momentarily, been a death-penalty offense, and whatever terror he had and would wrought were ended by the cop.

Shooting a fleeing suspect in the back, well, I'm pretty sure that armed suspect in a downtown metropolis was fleeing towards a lot of other people, often after demonstrating his intentions to shoot without regard for innocents. My city, at least, tends to lock down whole neighborhoods whenever an uncaught gunman is in the area. How does that add into the "shot in the back" equation?
posted by Sunburnt at 3:38 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is an awesome FPP about a father and son experiencing a video game and memories together, and the thread turns into a painstaking analysis of the phrase "shot in the back."

Welcome to MetaFilter, is all I'm sayin'.
posted by cribcage at 4:08 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Getting shot in the ass is a relief for everyone around

Shooting out of the ass is another matter entirely
posted by Hicksu at 4:27 PM on October 17, 2012


(grandpa had two non-grandma ladies on the go at the time: one named Peaches Puccivinelli, and another called Bubbles Bochivinski)

If this is true, noir movies and detective novels were way closer to reality than I've ever given them credit for.
posted by zjacreman at 5:26 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the most fun I had with GTAIV was simply cruising around LA. Driving down Sunset felt... right. There I was, freezing my ass off in a poorly-insulated apartment in Boston. But some part of me was transported back to Los Angeles, and it warmed my soul.

Then I went back to trying to play through the story and had my soul ground down by the nihilistically thuggish things it made me do. But LA. And a sweet car. And a custom soundtrack full of music I actually liked. Oh yes.
posted by egypturnash at 6:46 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh wait no not GTAIV. GTA 3 San Andreas. Dur. GTAIV was just a greyed-out pile of unpleasant that hooked into my obsessiveness.
posted by egypturnash at 6:48 AM on October 18, 2012


I bought LA Noire for my Dad during the Steam summer sale, and so far he's totally avoided playing it. Damn you Dad, one day you and I will bond; even if it kills me!
posted by Lucien Dark at 7:45 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


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