GTA: From Humble Beginnings to Cultural Phenomenon

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Posted September 16, 2013 by Jake Morris in Nerdy Bits

Tuesday the 17th of September, a date some will recognise as any other regular day of the year, but a date that many will have been anticipating for quite a while. It has been over five years since the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, and it is around the same amount of time that fans of the series have been eagerly awaiting the release of its successor.

Grand Theft Auto has become a titan of the gaming world. Each new release brings about more fans and with that, more money. GTAV is no exception, as the newest sequel has reportedly made back its production cost in pre-orders alone. The world of video games has become a forefront in the business of both art and fandom. You would not have to walk far to find someone who knew who Nathan Drake, Master Chief or the more obvious Mario and Sonic were. However, despite how those mentioned often cause debates as to which video games series is better, Grand Theft Auto, as I have found, always brings about fun filled discussions.
I don’t remember when I first learned to swim but I do remember where I was when I first played a Grand Theft Auto game. I remember the first time I heard Billie Jean play in Vice City and I most definitely remember the first time I gawped in awe of the revolutionary open world of GTA III.

The world of Grand Theft Auto has evolved significantly since it first debuted.

The world of Grand Theft Auto has evolved significantly since it first debuted.

Dan Houser and the rest of the guys at Rockstar have presented theworld with a game that continues to grow and has done ever since the early days; all the way back to the original game. Under the guise of DMA Design before becoming Rockstar North, the series started out as a top down open-world game but it wasn’t always plain sailing. In a recent article, courtesy of the Guardian (found here), a short documentary was produced to describe the development of the first game. Filled with controversy and what is normally coined today as ‘development hell’, the crew at DMA worked hard at releasing a game that pushed the boundaries of what was seen as appropriate in the video game industry.

The similarities between differing mediums in popular entertainment is an interesting one as many of today’s biggest industries in the past were often seen as fruitless and lacking in a wider perspective. Video games, much like comic books, were once seen as a hobby primarily aimed at children. All it takes though is for someone to put their neck on the line and hope for the appeal to be stretched to a wider audience. Akin to Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and many others, Grand Theft Auto hoped to do just that in the video game industry. To show that an older audience can be the aim for new material.
The resulting outcome did bring about many complaints from several vocal opinions in the media but those ideas are still evident today.

Criminality through adventure is still at the forefront of the series.

Criminality through adventure is still at the forefront of the series.

The foundations laid by the first Grand Theft Auto game are still the heart and soul of the modern 3D sequels. Such is a testament to the determination and extensive work that the guys at DMA Design sweated over for many a time in order to present gamers with something unknown, something that although opposed what we would act like in the real world, provided fun and continues to do so. Come the bell-tolls of twelve AM on Tuesday, gamers will be lining the shops, possibly the streets, in order to get a hold of Rockstar’s latest release. In all the hustling and bustling at the shop counter, let’s not forget how such a huge series once risked not only the wrath of journalists and the mediums in which they worked for but also almost collapsed before seeing the light of day.

So before you head out to the shop at midnight or hit the pillow in anticipation of the postman tomorrow morning, have a watch of the short documentary below:


About the Author

Jake Morris

When is Deadman going to get a film? Never, you say? Well, I'm just going to sit here and sulk. Comics, films, stuff... I like it aaaaall.