Grand Theft Auto IV.

You may have heard a little something about this in the media; the latest installment in the franchise from Rockstar – in a genre called “sandbox” with which I’m unfamiliar – is in the house.

No less than the revered New York Times quotes: “[GTA IV] ..sets a new standard for what is possible in interactive arts.”

It’s M-rated, purely escapist entertainment strictly intended for my eyes only.

Mind you , it’s not perfect. Even next-gen state-of-the-art can disrupt my suspension of disbelief with issues such as “dead zombie” eyes, strange eyelid edge highlights and disconnected line(s) of sight, and appendages with polygon collisions that defy the laws of physics. I’m not crazy about the control scheme, either – and it’s a key skill. More quibbles are available from one of my daily reads: The Digital Gamer .

In the past I exchanged an unopened GTA Vice City for a more family-friendly (and guilt-free) Microsoft Flight Simulator. I can’t really cite what has changed in my thinking except for my employment in the games industry, curiosity about the sandbox genre, and perhaps a sprinkling of inescapable hype. Nonetheless this will be my entertainment for the next few months. At this writing, I feel completely entitled to this seedy indulgence- even though I typically shun movies and television that glorify and romanticize crime.