Slate contributor Sudhir Venkatesh is a Columbia sociology professor who has written a book about street gangs, even going so far as to run with one in Chicago for a book. So, naturally, Grand Theft Auto IV would intrigue him. His verdict on the game's realism? It "actually offered a less sensational portrait of gangland and ghetto streets than the one put out by most cops, politicians, policymakers, and even academics."
But it does pretty much nail the always changing landscape of a criminal's life, in enemies who become friends and vice versa, risks taken trusting someone and goals that were of vital importance at one point becoming expendable in short time.
It's still "a carnival of violence, deceit, and cruelty that makes you slightly nauseated after playing for only a few hours" -- well, remember he's writing for a Slate audience. He fesses up to lacking joystick skills to control the cars, but offers up a couple informed suggestions.
One, set the next one in the south side of Chicago (isn't that Carcer City in GTA canon?) and two, for multiplayer: Form gangs, or clans, which themselves have their own alliances and enemies and bargains. That gets GTA IV into MMO territory of course -- but isn't that the rumour we're hearing out of latest developments with Realtime Worlds and APB?