September 14, 2013
Hollywood Wanted A GTA Movie.
Co-founder of Rockstar Games Dan Houser offered some interesting thoughts on the current state of Hollywood and turning their critically acclaimed franchise into a summer blockbuster. For Houser, the idea is about as useful as a bucket of sand. No, Dan Houser doesn’t like the idea of GTA being a movie at all, mostly because of the way he sees Hollywood. We all have unkind things to say about Hollywood, but this is just too sweet.
Houser describes the working environment of Hollywood as restricting and generally uncreative. Speaking to IGN, Houser laments “We’ve been offered, many times, and it’s never appealed,” he says. “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.”
Hearing the words from his mouth personally must have been quite the treat, but what could Houser mean by creative control?
Most production studios rely on rushed projects and over simplified story elements to adhere to the speed of releasing a movie. This is simply disastrous when compared to the development of a process, which operates a lot more on the quality of the product. If the product isn’t up to par, then they simply wait.
The idea off AAA and Indie development, both in films and in video games, are closely referenced because of the same general depictions of the media. The difference to most of us is that Hollywood seems think that we’re a bunch of idiots, whereas the video game industry treats us like glorified idiots. For people like Houser, though, the difference is a lot more evident in concept than in practice. Put simply, Houser just doesn’t think the game belongs on the screen.
Houser continued with his theory by stating that “There’s still plenty of kudos in doing a film, but you shouldn’t ever do anything in your life for kudos,” he says. “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?”
I’m finding Houser’s words to be a bit more on the soft side than usual. Years ago, I would have followed his teachings with an uncompromising sense of entitlement, but stepping back, it’s a lot more obvious now that Rockstar Games has a fair share of their own issues as well.
Image Credit: Rockstar Games