[This next part-inspired by Jonathan Bell's excellent recent piece over at Things magazine concerning video game representations of cities, and their potential impact on contemporary architecture]
Rockstar and others have virtually (pun intended) built the digital infrastructure to generate generic large city forms. All they have to do is drape a particular cultural fabric over it, and the architecture, clothes, music, adverts etc. all just fall into place, as defined by a talented new form of 'curator' perhaps. (Hey Rockstar, if you're listening, I'll have that job!).
[Thought about this before, after reading about Gangs of New York and similar potential in films; read also about the way Rockstar design this stuff; about some future potential of Rockstar's city-based games; and Manhattan as muse for video games.]
If it is The Warriors, then just inhabiting a version of NYC in the early 80s would be a blast. One of my favourite near-mythical urban eras, as witnessed in the incredibly flawed but compelling film Downtown 81. I'd struggle to do address any of the usual Rockstar narrative ploys though, instead trying to track down John Zorn, Arto Lindsay & DNA, Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, The Kitchen, James White & The Blacks, Talking Heads, Thurston Moore, Basquiat etc. Materialising in the almost deserted early-80s Lower East Side, I'd probably get my head kicked in anyway (which is standard Rockstar plot device of course).
One of the Tate Modern's first shows, Century City, was built around the conceit of particular cities assuming particular cultural importance at particular times: with their visual art bias (dumbasses!) they pinned New York from '69 to '74. Also, Moscow from 1916-1930; Vienna 1908-1918; Rio 1955-1969 etc. We had similar concerns when curating Urbis. It's an alluring thought - if given a video game-based time machine, where would you go back to? As well as NYC 1980, I'd loved to have witnessed the insanity of 1830s Manchester, as the city rises, unfettered by planning concerns or old conceptions of 'the city', seemingly powered by entirely new forms of energy, commerce, and organisation. The city-states of renaissance Italy could be fun. Weimar Berlin would certainly open the mind. So, if Rockstar where to 'open-source' their city-machines such that any urban forms could created, where to be a video game flâneur?