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Dan Houser On GTA V, Manhunt 2 Banning And More

Dan Houser On GTA V, Manhunt 2 Banning And More


Speaking with The Times last Friday, Rockstar vice president Dan Houser explained the process by which a new Grand Theft Auto would be made, tackled the controversy surrounding Manhunt 2 and the way in which the games industry is supplanting other forms of entertainment as a part of our cultural upbringing. He didn’t go into specifics about where GTA will go next, but he had plenty to say all the same.

Houser started out be revealing the inspiration and purpose of what Grand Theft Auto has become. “The game evolved out of our love of watching live car chases on TV, or American movies and so on,” he revealed. “The game is set in a world that is like the world would be if it were the way the media says it is.” That’s probably the best explanation we’ve ever heard for the tone and sensibilities of GTA, but you would expect that from one of its script writers. He also explained the process of starting a new game, finding a location and then thinking about the people who would inhabit it. “We’ll think of a city first, then the characters,” he said, revealing no more.

Manhunt 2 on the other hand was very much on the agenda. For a start Houser seemed most concerned that the banning of the game in many countries meant that Rockstar’s backers lost out. “Manhunt 2 was not a good situation,” he admitted. “When a game gets banned, it means we’re not doing our first job, of making the investors back their money.” That may seem like a rather corporate line to take, but Houser had plenty more to say on the situation. “Video games are a popular and easy enemy,” he said. “It’s all part and parcel of doing something that’s not been done before. One of the things that’s always been exciting is the feeling of being in at the birth of a new medium, but of course the history of technology-driven art from the printing press onwards has been of people fighting against that stuff.”

However, fighting on the front line does take its tole and the hypocrisy of the arguments used clearly gets to Houser. “We do get frustrated when video games are singled out and movies are given a free pass,” he explained. “Manhunt 2 was banned in the same week that Saw was released. The arguments become quite ludicrous quite quickly when people argue that games are somehow more dangerous than full-motion video.”

But as he said games are the new scapegoat and are only going through the same birthing pains as many forms of media before it. He seems to feel that in particular games are surpassing music as a means for young people to assert their own tastes and personalities. “What strikes me now is that for anyone under the age of 60, it’s impossible to hear music that shocks or appals you,” Houser suggested. “It must be very difficult for a teenager to share music with Dad, who can then pick out where all the riffs came from. It might be a nice bonding experience, but it dulls the sense of discovery, doesn’t give you the same chance to forge your own identity.” He also looks forward to a time when games are less disposable, and can last forever the way music does. “These games are things that we put a lot of time and effort into but that technology has now made obsolete. Of course, you think is this completely disposable? Maybe the games are close to getting good enough where they will be playable in a few years’ time.”

But can games be art? Houser is more concerned with them being entertainment. “Games are part of the modern entertainment industry, and maybe they’ll come to be considered an artistic medium – that’s a whole separate discussion – but what they are not is pure software,” he concluded

The Times [Via Kotaku]

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