“So this is what the dream feels like? This is the victory we longed for.”
Being part of GenZ — a generation that has witnessed the decay of the middle class throughout their childhood and is often cynical about the reality of the American dream — I was out of step with the majority, thinking that some aspect of this dream could be achieved through reform. I’m currently entering my third year of higher education, agreeing to take on loans to secure the opportunity of “upward mobility.”
Throughout my childhood, I have been shielded from the harsh reality of the 2008 recession. My parents never discussed their financial troubles. Later, I found out that my family lived paycheck to paycheck and had no savings for the future. Growing up, this meant I was always behind the curve in terms of new game consoles. I played Grand Theft Auto IV back around in 2014, and I hated it. I despised not being able to buy properties and businesses, as well as the limited customization options for Niko Bellic compared to GTA San Andreas.
After getting a PC for my 20th birthday, I decided to give GTA IV another chance with the new lens of being an active participant in the economy. Turns out that the reasons why I once hated it are now the same ones for which I adore it.
GTA IV is a time capsule of an era in which most of my generation had no idea what was happening. I now realize it made sense that the player couldn’t purchase properties. Liberty City reeks of a nation down on its luck — pedestrians talking about money problems, news reports about a plummeting stock market, a fitting brown filter illustrating the current mood of the nation. Would it be realistic to own multiple houses or have eight custom cars?
Throughout his visit to the land of opportunities, Niko Bellic gets chewed up and spat out by the American machine, dealing with corrupt cops and ignorant politicians. As another recession is on the horizon, it seems that I will be in a similar situation as the generation before me. I will never be able to buy a house, and instead be in significant debt in the future. Just like Bellic, my optimistic faith in the American dream is fleeting.