In recent weeks, some rumors have come out about what the new title of the video game will be like Grand Theft Auto, one of the sagas that have made the history of the sector and that still today is among the most sold and played in the world. From 1997 to today GTA had seven chapters, the last of which – GTA V – came out nine years ago. Despite its age, it still remains current for its extensive and updated online mode which, across all platforms, exceeds 2 million users per month. The copies sold from 2013 to today are 170 million worldwide, a number that makes up GTA V one of the best-selling video games ever.
In the game, the online mode joins the offline one, that is the narrative line around which the characters and settings that form the common visual identity are created. Since when GTA develops 3D titles in the third or first person – so since the early 2000s – its enormous success has been driven not only by the quality of the product, but by a very specific style that today makes Rockstar, its developer company, one of the most recognizable.
Grand Theft Auto – the term used in America for car theft – is an open world game where you can move freely in a limited map but large enough to contain a large number of scenarios. It is therefore not a “binary” game that develops following only a main story through a defined path: you can do missions with which to establish the progress of the story, as well as you can choose to interact with secondary characters, simple extras or with the rich surrounding environment without pursuing particular objectives.
The game offers the ability to literally do what you want. You could drive respecting the speed limits, for example, and not accidentally rage on passers-by, but in general no one does it, because it is allowed to do so and there is nothing to prevent it (there is the police and based on the crimes committed) ends up sought after, but this does not act as a deterrent). Violence is therefore normality and is perpetuated in a world that is a parody and a critique of the worst aspects of American and contemporary society, between satire, discrimination, sexism and nihilism so widespread and homogeneous as to be unequivocal and in a certain sense not condemnable. .
There are radio stations in which republican pseudo-candidates publicly support the most absurd positions, including alien presences in disguise, proposals to arm children or cut any kind of social assistance (things that sometimes, especially lately, are overcome by reality). There is a cartoon, Helpless anger, in which the protagonist is a sort of superhero of the liberals who says he is an environmentalist and in defense of workers, and who swells up in the face of injustices, only to never get anything concrete. And he runs a company that has weird ideas about worker advocacy and environmentalism.
Ethnicities and social classes are represented in an exasperated way, at least in their main characters. In the desert there are the so-called redneck – in Italian we would call them “louts” – who live in filthy caravans and believe they are being spied on by the federal government. In the city there are the headquarters of the big social networks, such as LifeInvader, managed by traumatized and resentful geeks. Who works in the cinema – GTA V is set in a city that resembles Los Angeles – it often has degenerate traits, while entrepreneurs have no qualms, live in the hills and during the day leave their wives to do yoga by the pool with seductive instructors they often have relationships with. If, on the other hand, you end up in one of the African American or Latin ghettos, a crooked glance is enough to get shot at from half the neighborhood.
In short, GTA has always been a free world in which everything is allowed and has continued to be so even in a period like this, in which certain highly successful entertainment products are rediscovered aged badly, in contrast with the demands of the new generations and above all with the sensitivity of minorities and communities in search of rights and affirmations after years of discrimination. Even in this context, GTA has never been the subject of cases or major controversies – except those that cyclically accuse violent video games of having repercussions on the behavior of adolescents – demonstrating its transversal satire which has the effect of underlining the most deplorable aspects of society.
Lately, however, things have also changed for GTA. In its latest versions, the game has adopted a series of measures that can be defined as politically correct. For example, the developers have eliminated some secondary content deemed transphobic on the recommendation of an organization that protects the representation of the LGBTQ + community in video games.
In new-gen GTAV / GTAO, Rockstar appear to have disabled the trans caricatures or “drag queens” from spawning outside Cockatoos. This could be following a plea from OutMakingGames last year. I hope this provides comfort to anyone who felt these NPCs depicted harmful stereotypes 🏳️⚧️
– Kirsty Cloud (@kirstycloud) April 8, 2022
The interventions have not changed the gaming experience in the slightest, but only the fact that they have been applied is significant. These innovations would also seem to be a consequence of the internal restructuring that Rockstar started in 2019. Until recently, the company was described as a fast-paced workplace, “a men-only club of drinking, brawling and strip club hikes,” he recently wrote. Bloomberg. These traits, common to many other companies in the industry, have not prevented Rockstar from achieving enormous success with its products, indeed, but in the long run they have worn out the employees, who in 2018 spoke openly about their working environment for the first time. , in hundreds.
The company has since attempted to reinvent itself as a more progressive and sensitive workplace, and an employee reached by Bloomberg he now speaks of it as “a kids’ club transformed into a real company”. These changes made it necessary to reorganize and invest in company spaces, all things that would have contributed to slowing down the development of new products, as users have been complaining for some time, including the new chapter of GTA, with which Rockstar aims to redefine the video game industry once again.
Recently the company has returned to give some more communication on what it is doing, as it has not happened for some time, saying it wants to focus on the development of GTA VI putting aside other less well-started projects for the time being. I am also leaked advances about what the new chapter of the saga will be like, scheduled for release between 2023 and 2024. The irreverent style of the game should lower its tone, the main story should be set in Vice City – Miami’s alter ego city – and draw inspiration from the events of Bonnie and Clyde: it will therefore have a female main character for the first time. In illustrating these innovations, Bloomberg wrote: “Several Rockstar employees are ironic that a real satire on America today can no longer be done, because the country has become a satire of itself.”
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