There is no question that the current political climate has infected people beyond politics. In fact, while promoting Rockstar’s latest game Red Dead Redemption 2, co-founder Dan Houser talked about how difficult making a Grand Theft Auto game would be in today’s political climate.
The Rockstar co-founder and writer sat down with GQ to discuss a whole host of issues. But maybe the biggest takeaway from his interview is his reluctance to make a Grand Theft Auto game during today’s current political climate where outrage culture rules the day. Houser specifically pointed out that culture and how it would affect a new Grand Theft Auto.
“It’s really unclear what we would even do with it, let alone how upset people would get with whatever we did. Both intense liberal progression and intense conservatism are both very militant, and very angry. It is scary but it’s also strange, and yet both of them seem occasionally to veer towards the absurd. It’s hard to satirise for those reasons. Some of the stuff you see is straightforwardly beyond satire. It would be out of date within two minutes, everything is changing so fast.”
It’s clear to see how those “intense” groups can make a creator feel trapped not knowing how far they can push the boundaries before people are calling for boycotts. Cyberpunk 2077 learned that lesson a few weeks ago when a Tweet meant as a joke quickly devolved into a cluster of a mess. In fact, the studio issued an apology for the Tweet shortly afterward.
However, Houser is no stranger to either of these sides targeting Grand Theft Auto. The Grand Theft Auto franchise has faced criticisms from a number of groups throughout the years. They’ve seen the powerful Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) lobby try and get Grand Theft Auto IV’s rating changed by the ESRB from “Mature” to “Adults Only.”
MADD would issue a statement:
“Drunk driving is not a game and it is not a joke. Drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime, and it is also 100 percent preventable.”
MADD wouldn’t be the only ones to target them. The Sex Workers Outreach Program USA called for a boycott of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Animal rights groups In Defense of Animals called for a boycott against Grand Theft Auto V because they believe the game perpetuates “institutionalized violence.” Grand Theft Auto V was also criticized by the Los Angeles Times for it’s “stubborn sexism.” The list could go on of the organizations that have called for boycotts against Rockstar and Grand Theft Auto.
In fact, what Houser actually appears to be saying in his comments is that the intensity of the current political climate would make it extremely hard for him and Rockstar to push boundaries and satirize these factions because these factions have already taken things to such extreme levels. I mean we’ve seen folks marching down the streets with tiki torches along with a guy trying to murder Republicans at a baseball practice. Houser really hits it on the head when he discusses anything that would try and create “would be out of date within two minutes.”
What do you make of Houser’s comments? Do you think the political climate makes it difficult for Rockstar to make a new Grand Theft Auto? Do you think he’s afraid of the backlash Rockstar might get if they do make a new one in today’s climate? Or the fact that their commentary would be stale and old by the time it came out?