Rockstar Founder Relishes Freedom of New Art Form

While noting that the gaming industry is still in its infantile stage, Rockstar founder Dan Houser says he'll gladly deal with the growing pains in order to explore a new art form.

"I think the medium is still very young," said Houser to Telegraph. "It's not a baby, but it's still probably an infant. So everything is growing and evolving as we go along and we're still figuring out how to do stuff.

"Movies and TV and books have become so structured in the way they have to approach things. Not working in that environment gives us enormous freedom. I'd rather keep the freedom and not have the respect."

Houser co-founded Rockstar in 1998, going on to fame and fortune by way of the lucrative Grand Theft Auto series. The two recently signed a deal to remain with Rockstar through January 2012.

"There was a sense that in some way movies were a higher art form and video games could aspire to be like them," said Houser of the early days of gaming. "I think now, because we and a few other companies are making products, that this isn't the case. They're just different, and video games are capable of things that movies aren't.

"I used to think it was radically different and had enormous constraints to any other medium, but I think I was just being naive about the limitations all mediums have."

Added Houser on the present: "It's really fun at the moment because we're not in any Academy and the medium's not codified. There's no accepted way of doing anything so that give us enormous pleasure because we can make it up as we go along."

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 28, 2009 9:05 PM

    It's hard for me to take Rockstar seriously. I can't help but imagine that in the beginning it was a bunch of guys who made a game where you could steal cars and cause all kinds of awesome carnage! Like they were charged by a juvenile fun-loving spirit that paid of handsomely.

    All of a sudden they made a believable world with PS2 technology and they're riding this image imposed by the world that they're super ambitious and now they're pushing the medium as an artform. It may well be that that became the case. Maybe they matured, but that it's based on, far as I can tell, doing crazy shit you can't do in real life makes it seem like they're not too qualified to talk about it.

    Then again maybe that makes them just the team to listen to on this.

    • reply
      January 28, 2009 9:49 PM

      Where else can you bowl or call your girlfriend? They are on the cutting edge.

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      January 28, 2009 9:57 PM

      I always wonder what it's like working there. The Housers seem like a couple of dicks; I wonder if they're actually that dickish and what kind of working environment would that create? On the other hand maybe I'm misreading them.

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        January 28, 2009 10:42 PM

        One of my best friends is an ex-Rockstar employees who swears that the Housers are complete sociopaths. He describes working under them in crunch mode as being stabbed to death seven days a week only to be revived by 4am phone calls yelling about something that they reversed their opinions on. The upper management survives on a diet of cocaine and strip club fumes.

        He might be exaggerating a little, but I don't think he's exaggerating a lot. The VP in charge of my last project had some extremely choice words about a meeting with Sam Houser.

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      January 28, 2009 11:01 PM

      Actually, Rockstar started out as DMA Designs, creators of Blood Money on the Amiga and, more importantly and with a greater impact, Lemmings. Walker and Hired Guns followed, then Uniracers on the SNES and Body Harvest on the N64. Then came GTA, several buy-outs one after the other, and in the end DMA and BMG Interactive were merged by Take-Two into one internal development house, Rockstar Games.

      Basically they're old-school game makers who are now talking out their asses.

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      January 29, 2009 12:38 AM

      They speak of games in an infancy stage. Seems as though the growing trend on the 'hardcore' stage is to make more and more realistic games, with less and less of the mindless carnage, action, and "fun" that all made us gamers in the first place.

      They're old skool game makers with a nice fat budget, but perhaps some misconceptions about where this industry should head. I mean, if you really want to tell a story, get on the rails and make a HL2. You want to let the player feel really free? Maybe take a page from Saints Row 2, can't believe I'm saying that. Seems like the hybrids get the most flak.

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        January 29, 2009 2:10 AM

        I don't agree decent stories have to be the exclusive domain of linear, cutscene-ridden games. Games shouldn't try to be movies. I think there's a lot of (mostly untapped) potential for unconventional storytelling, because it's an interactive medium and there's narrative techniques open to it that no book or movie can imitate. As the industry matures I think we'll start to see games get more adventurous in that regard.

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          January 29, 2009 9:43 AM

          Let's hope. Valve have the right idea. I was playing GTA IV yesterday and thinking about how each of the cutscenes would play out if it were in Half-Life. Turns out, really awesomely.

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