In West Philadelphia born and raised, in the playground is where I spent most of my days….Wait, no, that’s the Fresh Prince. I was an introverted adolescent, suffering paralytic nightmares as I helplessly spectate demise of my parents, before witnessing the tormented moment a clandestine assailant shoots my innocuous Uncle. The antagonists features obscured by the dimming visibility as the pale moonlight casts an ominous iridescent glow my vanquished, surrogate father. I vowed from that day forth to use my abilities for good, to protect the innocents of this world from the erroneous folly of malignant duplicity. Because with great power, comes great responsibility. Damn it! That’s Spider-man. Regardless of my procured origination that for liability purposes I must insist that I am not, nor have I ever been Spider-man (yet). Nor a tall, wise cracking, sexually promiscuous, discriminate against those that possess ample subsidiaries of excess insulation (fat), African-American. Though due to an active imagination and covert admittance to the biscuit tin that fuelled my sugar induced fabrications, I did conceive many fictitious pseudonyms and fluctuating identities. But for a nominal, intervening moment in my life I was Tommy Vercetti.
“Just cruising through the streets in a tank. What do I have to do to get arrested around here?”
At the tender age of 15 I was legally lacking the requisite maturity to own or even play GTA: Vice City. But luckily for me the ignorance of parentage meant acquiring a copy was a formality, much to the annoyance of the regularly chastised proprietors. And of course my mother had a decent grasp of reality and clear indication that I wasn’t a deranged sociopath that mimics the macabre humanitarian negligence. Perhaps it was the advent of publicised, largely conjectured indictments and exhumation’s towards the deplorable, fictional mutilations and death that beguiled me? Or maybe the surrealist depiction of 80’s cinematic etiquette such as Scarface that exonerated the brutal portrayal of drug dealing? Or perhaps I was simply submissive to its anarchic demeanour and vulnerable to its extroverted countenance? To be honest I don’t inherently care, it was just an immersive game with a great lead. Tommy Vercetti at first glance is somewhat of an anomaly. Motivated, fearless, with a penchant for vibrant shirts, but also extremely masochistic. Incarcerated for 15 years for multiple homicides, liberated on remand after Mafia boss presumably made the judicial system an offer that it couldn’t refuse. Vercetti’s release was accredited to his muted compliance in not detailing intimate knowledge of his former associates for a reduced sentence. With his newly acquired clemency, Tommy seeks to rehabilitate himself back into society, to discover modest employment, settle down and deplore his prior criminal activities. Oh no wait, his robust constitutions allowed him to murder with impunity. And how I idolised him. (Honestly, I’m not a murderer!)
“Gather round and say hello to my little friend! No you idiot, the gun, not my genitalia?!”
It wasn’t just Vercetti that compelled such admiration, as Vice City was one of the few games that presented a relevant, progressive narrative that wasn’t inherently original, but a sardonic portrayal of corporate greed, a caricature of every gangster movie with the exulted excess of both money and narcotics, condensed into an environment that bellowed with callous lust in a morally destitute environment. It was an aberration of established cinematic influences such as Goodfella’s, but with enough satirical emancipation to feel cathartic rather than derisory for the manipulated content. You consorted with numerous duplicitous characters such Burt Reynolds dodgy property developer Avery Carrington, William Fichtner portraying neurotic lawyer Ken Rosenberg, Ray Liotta as the eponymous anti-hero Tommy Vercetti and Danny “You mugging me off!” Dyer as Kent Paul. The latter of which never should have worked! But somehow the piety of his ethical discrepancies and his inflated pomposity integrated admirably into the satirical commentary of the 1980’s. And despite the restrictive rigidity of the role, and with an “actor”, deliberately sheathed in inverted comas–who was hardly the staple of fluent artistic versatility, with Danny Dyer essentially playing, well, Danny Dyer. His charismatic cockney vernacular accentuated affable empathy for this pervasive Anglophile. Sure the retention of morality, the disparate ramifications pertaining to your criminality is often retaliated with domesticated resistance, before your suddenly acquitted of multiple homicides. But it bestowed an empowering sense of affluence no game has ever achieved.
“Calm down mate. Keep your Barnet on!”
Nothing emulated your rise to eminence better than the possession of your very own mansion. The innate sculptures, gilded upholstery that embellishes almost every stick of furniture. With weaving hallways that always lead back to the bespoke, opulent hall decorated with temporal possessions and a floor gleaming with polished marble tapestry that emitted such radiant, reflective affluence you’d think you were gazing at God’s teeth. Of course acquiring such a lavish property was procured through forced necessity, ruthlessly contested by the previous occupant, but successfully pilfered by my superior intellect, precision ballistics and endowed prestige. Your presence commanded respect with a simple stroll through a crowded market would see consumers parting at the sight of your anointed presence, with stall proprietors presenting their wares for you to sample and ask to bless their good health with fortuitous hand gestures (well, that was my perception). I was the Godfather of Vice! There was no incident I wasn’t apprised on, no altercation that couldn’t be amended with a chainsaw. I could inflict trivial infarctions on pedestrians (you know, minor aggravated assaults) compile my accumulated funds from my various franchises or time permitting, engage in some intimate moment with a hooker before negotiating my presented funds by beating her with a baseball bat whilst humming “I just died your arms tonight” (It must have been something I said?). That is until your mother shouts that its time for school and reprimanding you for your latent urgency. “Don’t forget your lunch either.”
“Mum, I’m a Mafia boss. I don’t have packed lunch!” *Sighs* Before silently retorting “I’ll have to have her whacked.”
What gaming character did you try an emulate? Don’t pretend you didn’t. Please.