“If GTA IV was a classic New York story, this is the endpoint of the American dream,” says Rockstar co-founder

Joe Donnelly September 9, 2013 - 12:25 pm

Much like the majority of other Grand Theft Auto games, GTA V has been promoted in the style of a feature film. In a recent interview, Rockstar Games’ co-founder Dan Houser discussed LA as an influence for Los Santos, the subtle differences between games and films, and why his team chose to avoid a female protagonist in GTA V.

GTA V night header

One great thing about the Grand Theft Auto series is the intricate links between each games’ setting, and each games’ characters. Most recently GTA IV’s Niko Belic sought a new life in New…sorry, Liberty City whilst chasing the American Dream. In GTA V, according to Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser, the characters are trying to “escape their pasts and reinvent themselves” as citizens of Los Santos – a town inspired by Los Angeles.

“LA is this embodiment of 20th-century American desires: the houses, the gardens, the tans, all slightly fake,” says Houser in an interview with The Guardian. “It’s the end of the western world – the suns sets and then it’s tomorrow. But the industry is movies or, equally phoney, real estate.

“It’s people trying to escape their pasts and reinvent themselves. If GTA IV was a classic New York story, this is the endpoint of the American dream.”

More now than ever, videogames are being increasingly compared with movies. David Cage’s Heavy Rain, and upcoming Beyond: Two Souls, in particular take on traits much similar to that of cinema, however Houser suggests videogames are in fact a “progression on from film,” and that open world games push this idea even further due to their lack of confines.

“Like all fiction, games are transportive, yet what makes them unique is that you follow your own eyes through the world,” explains Houser. “Games are, at one level, a progression on from a film – you jump off a cliff rather than a stuntman jumping off a cliff – but open-world games are actually more than that. It’s the being rather than the doing.

“You’re going to see different things than another player, and when you walk up a hill yourself and see the sun setting on the ocean, that’s a lot different to me taking a camera up there and making you see it.”

GTA V marks the first ever Grand Theft Auto to include multiple playable protagonists. Yet, the series has never introduced a female lead. In the case of GTA V, Houser puts this down to “the concept of being masculine was so key to this story.”

“Having three protagonists allows us to create nuanced stories, not a set of archetypes,” adds Houser. “Rather than seeming like you’ve got this super-criminal who can do everything effortlessly, they’re all good and bad at different things.

“We liked the idea of a protagonist retiring with a family, and how awful that would be. We’ve never done anything like that and you don’t really see it in games – to feed into these concepts of parenting and pseudo-parenting.”

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