Controversy and GTA V With Rockstar's Dan Houser

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Controversy and GTA V With Rockstar's Dan Houser

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Rockstar founder and head honcho Dan Houser has offered his perspective on video game controversy, as well as (very) briefly touching on the next Grand Theft Auto game.

"We'll think of a city first," said Houser on the follow up to GTA IV, "then the characters."

Houser's recent interview with the Times didn't really delve too deeply into sequels, but Houser had plenty to say on the idea that violent games make for violent people.

"It feels at last like we're moving on from that debate. The audience is getting past 30 so it all becomes a bit silly. That's not to say that all games are for all people; we've never said that. GTA has always been rated 18 and we've always been very happy with that."

"Nevertheless, we do get frustrated when video games are singled out and movies are given a free pass. 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."

Houser's comments are in line with Quantic Dream's Guillaume de Fondaumiere' s comments about Modern warfare 2, but with that game coming under fire from both the media and politicians in the US and UK respectively, it's difficult to agree with Houser's position that the debate is moving on.

Source: via MCV

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Agreed. I've never understood how pixels are worse than anything in live action.

well it's not that movies are getting a free pass so much as the media's attention has moved past movies and onto video games. it's just a new thing for people to blame why others go on killing sprees and are generally bad people, instead of saying "hey they're crazy and that's why they did it"

Has rockstar publicly admitted "Hey, we screwed the pooch on GTA IV. It sucked, we're sorry, and we'll try to return to GTA: SA perfection next time." ?

People say games are worse because of the interactive element, it's quite simple.

It's curious because the debate has actually got more relevant as graphics get more photorealistic. It used to be ridiculous that saying games desensitized you to violence, because they looked worse than standard cartoons, but now it could be a legitimate concern.

For the record, as far as I know, the tests I have seen into this peg violent games and violent movies at the same level of inducing violence, which is to say, practically none.

Movies, TV, video games... I wonder what kind of entertainment medium will fall under fire next? Presumably one that doesn't exist yet.

I don't know about video games, but "3-D" movies make me particularly violent.

"It's.... A.... GIMMIIIIICK!!!!"

The debate really should be moving on. I'm sick and tired of Games getting singled out, while any other media is just waved on by. There's little difference, yet when books, movies, etc are extremely violent it's fine, and when a Game is at the same level of violence; cue the 'think of the children', 'this is simply intolerable' and 'we cannot let this just slide' bullshit.

One sentence about their game design process when it comes to GTA, is enough to tag GTA5 in the title. Cheap ploy to get someone to read a poor article.

Oh, come on. It's about time they drop the GTA francise and concentrate on something even slightly different. Vice City was the peak and it was great, San Andreas was good and I liked it, GTA 4 is where they should have drawn the line. It's too much, the franchise is overused and old. I hope that this doesn't go like Final Fantasy 2000.

I like GTA IV but vice city is still the best one

I hope GTA V is also very good

Well, the problem with comments by people like Mr. Houser is that they don't matter unless they are willing to seriously fight the politicians, and of course produce exceedingly extreme content. I notice Mr. House mentions violence, but skirts around the question of sex entirely.

*THAT* said I am willing to give him some brownie points for having finally released Manhunt 2 for the PC in an uncensored format. Shame they couldn't have improved it a bit for the PC release though (gameplay wise and such).

Still, with my last money until after Christmas I pretty much sat there deciding whether I would get Torchlight or Manhunt 2. I decided to get Manhunt 2 to support the issue even if it was D2D. My basic attitude is that if you release true "M" rated games and don't censor them I will support them. I figured I can get Torchlight later, though by that point the mania will probably have subsided (besides I have Dragon Age: Origins for my RPG fix).

If I had to pick a "best" Grand Theft Auto game, playwise I'd say it would have to be "San Andreas". Though to be honest I did like a lot of the embellishments they did with GTA IV (the TV programs and such added to the overall experience). That said I didn't much care for the entire way GTA IV played, and I'm one of those who will say the storyline was very "meh". But then again that whole "getting called for social meetings" thing has a lot to do with what ruined it for me.

Truthfully if someone could release a game with the general level of gameplay of San Andreas and Saint's Row 2, the backround development (TV shows, etc...) of GTA IV, and enough "AO" rated sex and violence to finally give Jack Thomson a heart attack... well that would be the ultimate sandbox crime game.

The issue of character customization is one I'll mention seperate from the above because while *I* feel it's the best way to go, a lot of people prefer pre-made protaganists. Still I think Saint's Row 2 showed with their voice selections that you CAN have the best of both worlds.

It's also a mixed issue, but I also enjoyed San Andreas' "RPG type" development, but then again I am an RPG fan. The only problem I had with that game is the bit at the beginning on the bikes. I'm just absolutly horrible at that sequence.

He's right. I respect the man and his opinions considering that his company gets a lot of shit for being an extremely controversial game developer. It's kind of a give considering that Rockstar's track record is GTA, Manhunt, and Bully, both of which have been covered in some way by mainstream media.

Pixelated violence and realistic violence are two very different things. If you can't tell what's reality and what isn't reality, why the fuck are you even complaining?

Therumancer:
Well, the problem with comments by people like Mr. Houser is that they don't matter unless they are willing to seriously fight the politicians, and of course produce exceedingly extreme content. I notice Mr. House mentions violence, but skirts around the question of sex entirely.

And you think any of the politicians will listen? Two words: Micheal Atkinson.

buy teh haloz:

Therumancer:
Well, the problem with comments by people like Mr. Houser is that they don't matter unless they are willing to seriously fight the politicians, and of course produce exceedingly extreme content. I notice Mr. House mentions violence, but skirts around the question of sex entirely.

And you think any of the politicians will listen? Two words: Micheal Atkinson.

I said fight the politicians, not compromise with them.

As much as I agree with the right wing more in most cases, during the 1960s the left wingers made a very good point about things. You simply CANNOT influance or change the goverment while working entirely within the system. Hence all of the various protest rallies and the like that took place. Right now it does not seem that any gaming company has even made the slightest effort to do so much as start a picket line. Heck, 4chan did more to harass the Scientologists with a bunch of random anonymous internet posters than a company like Valve or Rockstar has done with the general support of the millions strong gaming community and actual organization and money behind them.

That's my point. They can release all the press statements of "umm, I disagree" that they want, but in the end it doesn't matter as long as you continue to try and take them on within their turf.

Violence in video games as controversy only exists for those people who still think of video games as toys for children. Video games are for everyone now, not just your 8 year old nephew. It's up to parents/guardians to look at a game and decide if it's appropriate for their child. These games are clearly for adults, and thus the only controversy should be if the next Mario Bros. game had peach working a street corner to support her smack habit and Mario and Luigi were leg breakers for the mob.

YAAAAY, CONTROVERSY! A word that I've heard a lot, even though it never seems justified!

The world was so much better when we didn't have all these video games that created huge communities where people of many ages from all over the world talked about, not only video games, but how the world works today, politics, moral dilemmas, and becoming one of the most broad communities to date. All because of them evil video games!

I guess there are a lot of other arguments to why video games are better, but I'd like to settle on one that proves that video games have changed society, IN A GOOD WAY!

I think it's moved on. It's not like MW2 has kicked up like a GTA used to. Sure, the media is all over, but eventually they'll realise that the audience, their audience, is exactly the market that is playing these games and shut up out of embarrassment. How many of their own workforce do you think are playing these games? A fair few given the average gaming age these days.
Sure, kids'll still get hold of these games but is it really any worse that those of us who used to sneak-watch The Evil Dead or Rambo when we were kids?
It's easy to say these children will turn into killers, but if anything the Comic / Punk Rock/ Video Nasty debacles have shown us throughout history it's that these theories are usually utter bollocks.

Diablini:
Oh, come on. It's about time they drop the GTA francise and concentrate on something even slightly different. Vice City was the peak and it was great, San Andreas was good and I liked it, GTA 4 is where they should have drawn the line. It's too much, the franchise is overused and old. I hope that this doesn't go like Final Fantasy 2000.

Right now they're concentrating on Red Dead Redemption, I'd say that's at least slightly different.

I think that as the older generations begin to die out, we see less and less of this bitching and moaning about 'violent video games.' Games like Modern Warfare 2 and GTA still come under a lot of fire, but I think people are starting to realize that the ones getting all upset over it are... not all there, shall we say.

nilcypher:
Controversy and GTA V With Rockstar's Dan Houser

"Nevertheless, we do get frustrated when video games are singled out and movies are given a free pass. 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."

How funny is it that Saw the video game was released the Friday before MW2 and that it got no press on it's graphic violence nor was it held up beside MW2 as something worse? Not that I think the MW2 deserves a free pass for it's blatant gratuity. These companies are not trying to be altruistic to send some kind of social message here. This is about money and the cash cows are in; Gratuitous violence sells... a lot! That's nothing to be proud of, but when you're laughing all the way to the bank you probably don't care anymore.

Why the hell would I bother with games if they are not any more dangerous than boring old movies. Rockstar my arse, more like popstar. When did game developers forget that games are vital and exciting, not some heavily marketed things that are a bit like your grandad's favourite movies only not as good.

Politicians will always have something point to for scapegoats, that's one reason they are politicians. Frankly I would find it better to just ignore the complaints, and produce what you want that will get sold, with at least an ear to the governing climate, but if that were to ever change to actual restrictions(which would be political suicide for whoever put forward such bills as well as those who vote for it.), well then can't do much anyway short of changing the format or just changing where you sell your product. Actually 'fighting' the system by putting out even more violent content would most likely backfire, because there is actually a certain level of gore that most buyers can take, to where the entertainment is lost. If all you want out of a game is nothing but gore and nothing else, then I can safely say you are in the minority. Enjoy your Saw game and unrated Manhunt 2. I'm not saying we need less gore, but going the opposite way just to spite the man, may sound like a cool idea, but it will only be counterintuitive. If you want to keep games safe from restrictions, then do what you can to keep the 'gamebullies' out of government. Looking at you, Oz.

Since when do we need a politicians approval on anything, look how far we have come in gaming without em. Although Rockstar disappointed me alittle here and there, they are part of the family and I"m willing to help em out. Its nice to have a brick-n-mortar stores like Gamestop, and Gamestop, and of course Gamestop(Is there really another national store that is equal to them?) but digital disturbion is practically limitless, the politicians can take it away. Aalong as there is one steam client running, there will always be gaming.

Ignoring the rest of the article I love the fact he said we'll think of a city first. GTA is always so intertwined with its city and the characters express it. Its just why GTA is just a fantastic game even if I have so many arguments with IV I still sit down and experiance the story more then I have any of the other GTAs (except vice city I have lost count on how many times I have played that).

On the rest of the article I am more moved by violence in movies then I am games. However it depends on the movie I am watching like say for instance Black Hawk Down or Saving Private Ryan the violence in the movie is used for effect and I am completely sucked in and I genuinely feel sick afterwards. With a game I feel it is more expected and I have not really played a game that really tugs at my heartstrings with the violence.

Then there are movies that base themselves around violence and gore for example Saw or Hostel. Now the difference between a game and a movie in this sense is that I havnt really played a game that the point is to cause the pixels on the screen to have the most horrific death humanly possible. Then again I dont look for games or movies like that because to be honest there is no real place or point to it other then to show as much red stuff pour at as possible.

There will always be controversy with games simply because it is not necessarily understood. Whereas movies and television have been around since the 20's and plays have been around since the begining of mankind. Videogames are a newcomer to the audiance and until we are able to sit down and make a game that actually shows the impact that our violence causes there will always be this problem.

Games are about killing or destroying and games about creating usually are not as big. Also with the enhanced graphic engines and with games having more mainstream attention you are going to bring more attention to yourself. Look at Postal if that came out tommorow it wouldnt fly. They would shut it down so fast you wouldnt be able to get your shovel and protest it. However it did come out a few years ago and there was a lot less attention on video games back then.

I remember going into a game store and actually seeing the occasional X rated game. That was back when I was just a wee lad. However now this doesnt happen, games have become more and more mainstream and like I said with that attention brings both negative and possitive attention.

GTA V should be set in a place with a truly heinous crime rate for a change. I'm thinking Johannesburg: The car-jacking capital of the world. It would be perfect for a game essential based on and named after car-jacking. That way Rockstar could also use some of those hilarious South African accents.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a wise man.
I've been wondering how movies don't triggers violence if video games supposedly do. This man has made a very good point. My hat's off to him.

VanityGirl:
I've been wondering how movies don't triggers violence if video games supposedly do. This man has made a very good point. My hat's off to him.

Looking back, tons of movies have caused violence.

The Warriors, for example, caused essentially mini gang wars at movie theaters. Appropriately enough it had a game based on it, made by Rockstar.

FiveSpeedf150:
Has rockstar publicly admitted "Hey, we screwed the pooch on GTA IV. It sucked, we're sorry, and we'll try to return to GTA: SA perfection next time." ?

I don't see why we started hating GTA IV. The story was great. The gameplay was great. The graphics were great. And it was FUN. Sure, it may be too bent on realism, but it just made the more unreal situations more interesting and fun than it was in most games that aren't trying to be realistic.

The really sad thing about all the attention GTA4 got, was it was released about the same time as Saint's Row 2 which is, content wise, had so much more potential to be controvercial than GTA4 did. Ever bit of restraint that Rockstar has placed on the GTA franchise is delibratly avoided for SR2, and yet, GTA4 is the one that got the media atention as "a villian in our midst" or whatever.

That said, it's also been far more addictive for me... hmm...

The_Deleted:
I think it's moved on. It's not like MW2 has kicked up like a GTA used to. Sure, the media is all over, but eventually they'll realise that the audience, their audience, is exactly the market that is playing these games and shut up out of embarrassment. How many of their own workforce do you think are playing these games? A fair few given the average gaming age these days.
Sure, kids'll still get hold of these games but is it really any worse that those of us who used to sneak-watch The Evil Dead or Rambo when we were kids?
It's easy to say these children will turn into killers, but if anything the Comic / Punk Rock/ Video Nasty debacles have shown us throughout history it's that these theories are usually utter bollocks.

What are you talking about? Things of the youth have always been terrible influences. I mean, look at that swing music! Its like sexual acts set to music! It encourages wild behavior and inappropriate dress!
Its nothing but a form of escapism that makes people forget reality!

(Yes, my Jazz history professor is awesome, why you ask?)

scifidownbeat:

I don't know about video games, but "3-D" movies make me particularly violent.

"It's.... A.... GIMMIIIIICK!!!!"

I'm not on any huge hype train but I do believe 3D movies aren't just Gimmicks: Take UP for instance which was very well crafted indeed better than WALL.E

Erana:

The_Deleted:
I think it's moved on. It's not like MW2 has kicked up like a GTA used to. Sure, the media is all over, but eventually they'll realise that the audience, their audience, is exactly the market that is playing these games and shut up out of embarrassment. How many of their own workforce do you think are playing these games? A fair few given the average gaming age these days.
Sure, kids'll still get hold of these games but is it really any worse that those of us who used to sneak-watch The Evil Dead or Rambo when we were kids?
It's easy to say these children will turn into killers, but if anything the Comic / Punk Rock/ Video Nasty debacles have shown us throughout history it's that these theories are usually utter bollocks.

What are you talking about? Things of the youth have always been terrible influences. I mean, look at that swing music! Its like sexual acts set to music! It encourages wild behavior and inappropriate dress!
Its nothing but a form of escapism that makes people forget reality!

(Yes, my Jazz history professor is awesome, why you ask?)

Perhaps, but these things are a release, escapism, as you say. Not a catalyst for murder rates, sexual deviancy or rape.
Admittedly music has always been a kind of 'foreplay' in the right circumstances, but that's not to say it's evil.

Oh yay, time for Grand Theft Auto III part 3.

The ESRB age rating exists for a reason. Not only that, but countries world wide also implement ratings on games. Some aren't as adequate as they should, like Australia, for example, but ratings are still a very important part of the "freedom of speech" process.

Games should have the liberty to express themselves, no matter the content. As the medium grows only resisting laymen don't realize the artistic and cultural potential of games.

tehroc:
One sentence about their game design process when it comes to GTA, is enough to tag GTA5 in the title. Cheap ploy to get someone to read a poor article.

"...as well as (very) briefly touching on the next Grand Theft Auto game" in the teaser text.

Not sure how much clearer you'd want it. Your failure to read does not constitute there being anything wrong with the article.

nilcypher:
but with that game coming under fire from both the media and politicians in the US and UK respectively, it's difficult to agree with Houser's position that the debate is moving on.

The fact that a newspaper would even give an interview for a videogame developer to voice their opinion is a form of showing things have moved on. They just haven't moved fast enough.

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