Rockstar Games’ Vice President of creativity and Grand Theft Auto writer Dan Houser has very vocally attacked the “casual gaming” craze currently gripping the games industry. He didn’t feel the need to be particularly eloquent about it, either.
“F*** all this stuff about casual gaming,” ranted the man who co-wrote GTA IV. “I think people still want games that are groundbreaking. The Wii is doing something totally different, which is fantastic. We’re hopefully going to prove that there’s also a very big audience for people who want entertainment in another form, who think of games as being a narrative device that can challenge movies.”
Houser also attacked videogames with fantasy themes such as “orcs and elves, or monsters, or space.” Houser believes Rockstar’s themes are superior, as his company’s games are “about something we could actually relate to. Or aspire to.” Now, I love Grand Theft Auto, don’t get me wrong — but I can’t say I particularly aspire to be an Eastern European human smuggler, drug runner and murderer. Nor do I wish to be an escaped mental patient on a killing spree, or a table tennis player. I can’t say Rockstar makes games with life goals that echo my own.
Houser also spoke up about GTA IV‘s violence by saying; “If you don’t like any violent content in your entertainment, then I apologize because I do. And I’ve unfortunately been exposed to it my entire life. If we equally got rid of a lot of books that talk about violence, okay.”
I think the casual gaming buzz term is stupid, but to tar fantasy games with the same brush isn’t very fair. Nor is it correct to hold Rockstar Games up as a bastion of thematic creativity. There is a lot of inventiveness in GTA, but it still plays many of the same notes it did almost a decade ago, and there’s not a lot else Rockstar has done to push gaming forward as an art form.