Source: @timurton via Twitter
Gaming is an escape – an escape from life and from reality. Gaming allows players to leap higher than they really can, allows them to be the hero, the saviour – and even do things they’d never do in real life. Heist games are incredibly popular – and it’s not just the prospect of loot at the end. The excitement in attempting to achieve the impossible keeps gamers coming back for more.
The Grand Theft Auto series is probably one of the most symbolic of this trope – the game involves many intricately planned heists. But, despite the blue lights on your tail and the ease at which you can pull someone from their vehicle – you are not the villain. In fact, you are the hero. Playing as a character living a life of crime allows gamers to live out their wildest fantasies attempting to pull off the heists. Especially so in San Andreas which featured an actual heist at a casino. May 2017 saw a return to the heist theme with a series of mobile side-games to help win in-game money for GTA players.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory features protagonist Sam Fisher carrying out a heist on a Panamanian bank to find information for the US Government. The stealth gameplay of Splinter Cell pairs well with the heist concept.
Even the Sly Raccoon saga – aimed more at a younger audience – features the main characters as a bunch of thieves. Yet, they weren’t conscience-bereft, malicious thieves, they were Robin Hood-style thieves – categorically the heroes to the villains they were pit against. Each level of each game featured a complex heist calling for each character’s attributes in order to defeat the villain at their own game.
Source: @carly_knight via Twitter
Online gaming also joins in on the heist fantasies with games as in Vegas heists. For example, Vegas Casino features Heist Slots, a slot game framed around what would happen if you were to rob a bank. The gameplay tallies nicely with the context of going on the run with money - and gaining and spending it as you go.
Fallout: New Vegas takes the heist game to a new level. While the narrative features the vault in the casino as a fallout shelter from the nuclear attack that gives the game its story, the protagonist (you) has to head to the shelter several years later in order to break into the vault.
Payday 2 is a game literally about big heists. While it does occasionally feature other kinds of heist, the game has made a mark for mixing stealth tactics with avoiding civilian casualties as the characters perform heist after heist. The game has recently been retooled for mobile gaming and additional VR technology, adding an even greater and more complex depth to the traditional heist game.
Video games are often charged with causing trouble – people blame them for bad behaviour, but perhaps it is the reverse. Maybe video games help curb people’s deep down wild fantasies so they see the outcome would be bad and don’t do the crime. Everyone needs to let off steam, and nothing can help after a bad day than using your skills to pull off the biggest heist in history!