We're just a week out from the release of Grand Theft Auto V, the most anticipated work of art since the Mona Lisa. It's coming to be in a world where video games are getting optioned to become movies almost as often as comic books are. Could there ever be a Grand Theft Auto movie (I mean, besides the one that Ron Howard was in)? According to Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Hauser, never.
"We've been offered [movie deals], many times, and it's never appealed," Houser tells The Guardian. "The money's never been close to be worth risking one's crown jewels. Our small dabblings with Hollywood have always left us running back to games. The freedom we have to do what we want creatively is of enormous value. The second you go near Hollywood, people seem willing, or have been forced, to lose a lot of that control. That sort of amorphous 'that won't test well' attitude is exactly how we don't work. We've always tried to think of stuff that's innovative and new, and to go into a world where that's not encouraged would be horrible.
"There's still plenty of kudos in doing a film, but you shouldn't ever do anything in your life for kudos... It's much easier to imagine GTA as a TV series, as the form is closer, but I still think we'd be losing too much to ever actually do it. We've got this big open-world experience that's 100 hours long, and that gives players control over what they do, what they see, and how they see it. A world where you can do everything from rob a bank to take a yoga lesson to watch TV, all in your own time. How do you condense that into a two-hour or 12-hour experience where you take away the main things: player agency and freedom?
"We love games and we think we've got something to say in games, and that games have plenty to say. So shouldn't we just continue doing that?"
That's a pretty strong and smart statement. While Grand Theft Auto (and Red Dead Redemption) is obviously indebted to the movies, it rarely feels like it's trying to be a movie. GTA is one of the franchises that feels most like it's exploring what games can do as games. Taking away the game aspect of GTA is taking away everything that makes it remotely special or interesting. GTA without player interactivity is a very standard, if snotty, crime story. With player interactivity it's something stranger and bigger than that, an experience where watching a sunset can be as thrilling as engaging in a shootout.
Good for Houser and Rockstar for understanding the fundamental things that make games games, something lost on too many developers looking to ape the shape and feel of blockbuster movies.
The entire article is great, and gives an interesting insight into one of the big minds behind all things Rockstar. Read it!