Grand Theft Auto Culture Changes

Also on Bloomberg (may require registration or subscription) is a profile of Rockstar Games, discussing the studio's progress at cleaning up its "frat boy" culture. These internal changes are also impacting both the future and the past of the Grand Theft Auto series. Word is: "Between the company’s new mandate and the 2019 departure of Dan Houser, who led creative direction on many previous Rockstar games, all signs suggest Grand Theft Auto VI will feel very different than its predecessor." The article quotes anonymous past and present employees saying the culture shift is real, but also discussing how the team is still working out how to operate under the new system. Here's more:
In the summer of 2020, after a police officer killed George Floyd, Rockstar Games quietly shelved a mode of play it had planned to release for its Grand Theft Auto Online game.

Called Cops ‘n’ Crooks, the mode was a twist on the children’s game where players organize into teams of good guys and bad guys, but seemed especially tone-deaf during the global reckoning over police violence. Senior executives at the company, concerned about how the narrative might be interpreted during a time of heightened skepticism and mistrust of American police, put it aside. They still haven’t made plans to bring it back, according to people familiar with development.

This was one of several politically sensitive actions Rockstar, a division of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., has taken in recent years. The company removed transphobic jokes from the most recent console release of Grand Theft Auto V and significantly narrowed its gender pay gap. Rockstar’s next game, Grand Theft Auto VI, will include a playable female protagonist for the first time, according to people familiar with the game. The woman, who is Latina, will be one of a pair of leading characters in a story influenced by the bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde, the people said. Developers are also being cautious not to “punch down” by making jokes about marginalized groups, the people said, in contrast to previous games.

Moves like these once seemed unthinkable for a company whose best-selling franchise is a satirical depiction of America that involves playing gangsters who kill civilians and where women are mostly depicted as sex objects. Grand Theft Auto V was a nihilistic parody that threw insults at everything, from right-wing radio hosts to liberal politicians. Inside the company, the tone wasn’t much different. Rockstar employees described a workplace culture full of drinking, brawling and excursions to strip clubs. The company was an early symbol of an industry-wide problem of long hours at the office, known as crunch, in which staff were expected to be at their desks many nights and weekends in order to keep a game on schedule.
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Re: Grand Theft Auto Culture Changes
Jul 27, 2022, 12:11
2.
Re: Grand Theft Auto Culture Changes Jul 27, 2022, 12:11
Jul 27, 2022, 12:11
 
GTAV was awful with "punching down."

Saints Row is an obvious comparison, and man, the differences. SR1 felt kind of hollow and cheap, like "Freckle Bitches" instead of Wendy's. Just easy, not-clever poop and dick jokes. But the series seemed to grow from that. I'm not saying it was the height of wit, or even witty, or that it stopped with easy jokes, but it seemed to want to go for more than easy jokes. GTAV... didn't. Anything with Michael's family felt like punching down and just like easy jokes. "Hahaha, the daughter is so mean to Michael because she has sex, so let's make her loudly brag to him about gangbangs, and the son is so mean because he likes video games! Oh, and that female celebrity is so angry at Michael for taking naked photos of her that she gets mangled in an accident trying to get them back, isn't she over the top! Hey, look, Michael's wife is having sex with her yoga instructor and not even hiding it! Man, all the women he runs into are really driven by sex!"

Just easy targets and nothing original. Saints Row, to me, was much funnier.

Which, again, is weird to me, because I feel like Houser did a good job with Max Payne 3 and approaching that with a mature lens.
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