The Guardian's Matt Hill has today posted his rather lengthy interview with Dan Houser (Hill claims the transcript ran to over 10,000 words). The interview covers a number of topics, from Houser's meticulous nature in studying cities used in GTA games, to his self-admitted unstructured and disorganised being. The main theme of the interview, though, is the comparison between videogames and movies, and how the former is constantly getting more and more relevant these days. Hill points out how Grand Theft Auto IV made $ 310m on its release day alone back in 2008, that was a world record at the time in any kind of media.
"Like all fiction, games are transportive, yet what makes them unique is that you follow your own eyes through the world," says Houser. "Games are, at one level, a progression on from a film – you jump off a cliff rather than a stuntman jumping off a cliff – but open-world games are actually more than that. It's the being rather than the doing. You're going to see different things than another player, and when you walk up a hill yourself and see the sun setting on the ocean, that's a lot different to me taking a camera up there and making you see it."
Houser also talks about how Grand Theft Auto couldn't really work as a movie, or even a TV show, as they'd lose too much in terms of storytelling - GTAV is 100 hours long, so when you think about it like this, it's easy to understand why it would be impossible to condense it into a 2 hour film. A videogame is the perfect medium for certain types of storytelling and immersion, and Grand Theft Auto fits squarely into that.
"There's still plenty of kudos in doing a film, but you shouldn't ever do anything in your life for kudos," advises Houser. "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?"
He pauses for breath. "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?" It would be a crime not to.
Plenty more quotes like that can be read in the full interview over at The Guardian.