The only review of ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ that matters is set to smooth jazz

Leigh Alexander's GTA review contemplates the serious gamer.


Audra Schroeder

Internet Culture

Published Sep 16, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 6:23 am CDT

Grand Theft Auto V will officially be released tomorrow, and the Internet is on it. One reviewer decided to take a different approach, as the leaves turn and temperatures cool on this new season of GTA: a smooth, jazzy review.  

Leigh Alexander is a Brooklyn-based journalist who often writes about gaming. She recently penned this excellent piece for The Atlantic on a new game called Gone Home and argued that it succeeds in taking the less-is-more approach with narrative. She also pointed out fans of more mainstream games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto might miss that “rush” of constant action.

Alexander left her two cents on GTA V on her blog today. A disclaimer warns that she hasn’t played the game yet, “but boy am I fucking glad I didn’t actually have to review it.”

She goes over some of the game’s new features:

“Most of the things you can do are helicopter, base jump, shoot, drive, run, swim. Whether or not you can swim in GTA is very important. There are even more unique cars with satirical names like a Jaguar except it starts with F and the writing is very witty.”

Then she lets the critic step in:

“Instead of only playing as one gross man who commits crimes and swears a lot, you get to play as three different ones. My press kit says this is a narrative innovation. You can’t be a woman. I could be lazy and say this is because women do not commit crimes or swear and nor should they want to, but instead I’m going to come right out and say it’s misogynistic. What, you want to leave me death threats? Go for it! Games are about feeling powerful, and about you getting your way!”

Via email, Alexander said that as a woman with an opinion online, she’s no stranger to hate speech:

“It’s gone from the realm of explicit memory to dull roar. The particular reference in today’s review is actually in defense of a colleague of mine, Carolyn Petit, who received an absurdly hostile response to her GameSpot review (almost entirely positive, except to note she didn’t like some of the misogynistic elements).”

Alexander then took it a step further, and created a free-jazz-style audio review of her written one, titled “This is Why We Video Gaming,” and uploaded it to Soundcloud. The smooth sax accompaniment, Alexander says, was meant to match the serious mood.

She says she understands commercial gamers take these sorts of things seriously.  “I take games seriously too, “ she adds, “which is why I cover independent innovators, games about serious things, and games as creative self-expression, and why I’m passionate about diversity in games, both in terms of game content and game creators and players.

“Taking a $200 million commercial blockbuster product that seriously, though, seems very counterintuitive to me, which is why I chose the ‘art house jazz’ vibe of the review. The ‘open mic beat poet’ archetype is often equated with ‘person taking themselves much too seriously.’”

Cue the sax.

Screengrab via RockstarGames/YouTube

Share this article
*First Published: Sep 16, 2013, 7:31 pm CDT