Thursday, July 21, 2011

GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony with Vodka Tonics

Given the horrifyingly homophobic nature of the online gaming community that I was exposed to during my six month addiction to World of Warcraft back in 2006, I was a bit surprised when Rockstar decided to title their second and final Grand Theft Auto IV expansion "The Ballad of Gay Tony."

The Ballad of Gay Tony puts one in control of Luis Lopez, the business partner, bodyguard and all around right-hand man of Tony Prince, a.k.a. "Gay Tony," the owner of the largest chain of nightclubs in Liberty City. I don't want to over-analyze the sociopolitical implications of this game. It does contain its share of homosexual stereotypes. I believe that the game developers were striving for a message of tolerance by means of featuring gay characters whose sexualities are not the most prominent part of their personalities. I'm not sure how much they succeeded.

To gracefully segue from a serious issue to one that is most absurd, I needed a drink to pair with GTA4:TBoGT. The game involves managing nightclubs, which includes dancing and taking shots with customers. It also involves a whole bunch of missions where Luis agrees to accompany a character to casual meetings that quickly devolve into gunfire and explosions. My first thought was to drink vodka-Red Bulls, but because I hate energy drinks, and because I have to sleep sometimes, I decided on vodka tonics.

I used Svedka vodka and Canada Dry tonic, with a slice of lime. I generally prefer gin with tonic, but for this occasion, vodka seemed very much appropriate. While gin has a pleasant, fruity, floral bouquet, vodka has a more stark, antiseptic quality. This particular drink struck me as particularly analogous to the nature of a dance club, where aesthetic distractions are employed to mask the basic instincts that underlie. And this is not so different from Grand Theft Auto IV, in which a glossy interface allows the player to enact frightening acts of violence upon innocent people, should they choose to do so. I enjoyed the vodka tonics that I drank along with The Ballad of Gay Tony, and I believe that they added to my gameplay experience. I recommend this pairing.


  1. "We were just having a creative meeting, and things went a bit crazy, and I somehow lost my pants"