Standing on the Sidelines – The Grand Theft Auto V Hype Train


Even after all this time, I’ve managed to avoid jumping into Rockstar’s megalith. 

Everyone has that one game series that everyone seems to have played but them. Sometimes it’s Metal Gear Solid, sometimes it’s Halo. For me, it’s Grand Theft Auto. I’ve played a lot of games across literally hundreds of franchises but somehow Grand Theft Auto – one of the biggest games in the world – has utterly passed me by.

It’s somewhat puzzling therefore to witness the Grand Theft Auto V hype, and the sheer force behind it, without ever truly being caught up in it. No other game receives the same frenzied anticipation as Rockstar’s behemoth.

Even the announcement of an announcement stirs a chorus of excited stories across forums and gaming news sites. New screenshots coming tomorrow? There’ll be a dozen news stories on that within half an hour. The day before the Official Gameplay Trailer? Every site carried a report or at least it seemed like every site.

Even the announcement of an announcement stirs a chorus of excited stories across forums and gaming news sites.

With one little Tweet Rockstar sent the games media and players into a frenzy – 9414 retweets, how many announcements of announcements for other games would get that kind of response?

I wrote the story about the trailer being released the following day. I also wrote the story about the trailer, it was prepared in advance – all that was needed was the actual clip. There was no time for analysis or comment (that came in a separate post written by someone else), the article had to be posted as soon as possible.

For me, the experience was something different to what I imagine the majority of other game players and journalists were thinking as they watched that footage – I still haven’t sat down and actually watched all of it. You can buy real estate? Oh, that’s nice… I didn’t know you could do it in San Andreas but not in Grand Theft Auto IV; in fact, my first thought was Fable 2. I didn’t know what was new and what was returning, there are probably still things about that video which would mean nothing to me but everything to a fan of the series.

My editor asked me to write the analysis post of the trailer and I said no, it was the first time I’ve ever refused to do an article. What details would be inconsequential to me but be absolutely significant to someone who’d played the game? I wouldn’t know. There are too many fans of the game for me to get it wrong and there’s no doubt that I would.

Often, such as immediately following a game’s announcement, you won’t know. The press release will be minimal, the 20 second teaser won’t contain enough details, the Kickstarter will be from developers you’ve never heard of, the Tweet will be just that – 140 characters. There isn’t always enough information. Yet you can get away with it, because no one else knows anything either.

That doesn’t hold true for Grand Theft Auto.

When Rockstar’s title explodes onto into game stores on September 17th I’ll be standing on the sidelines just as perplexed as it flies off the shelves (18 million copies are expected to be sold in its first year) as I am by the hype for it which started – and has remained pretty consistent – since it was announced. Maybe someday I’ll get it, maybe someday I’ll learn what the fuss is about but until then the Grand Theft Auto V hype train is a bemusing distraction.

What’s your videogame shame?

Stephen Daly is Gamemoir’s co-editor, a contributor to Koobismo and a news writer for Gameranx. You can follow him on Twitter at @StephenDaly_ or shoot him an email at sdaly@gamemoir.com.

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About Stephen Daly

Co-editor of game culture and lifestyle site gamemoir.com and a news editor for Gameranx. You can follow me on Twitter at @StephenDaly_ or email sdaly@gamemoir.com.

There are 4 comments

  1. Ernie

    To solve the problem of you “not getting it” for the time being you could simply play it when it comes out. I don’t mean that to be a dickish comment by the way. I know how you feel about it because I was in the same boat until San Andreas came out (GTA3 and Vice City would freeze on my ps2 within the first 5 minutes for no reason). When San Andreas came out I immediately got what everyone was talking about and it definitely helped that it had the most content thus far in the series. It felt like you could do literally anything you could think of (which obviously wasn’t true). Just the feeling of that freedom was enough to give it such high praise because to be honest I don’t remember much of the story which I think was lackluster compared to at least Vice City.

    I know the point of your article was figuring out the hype behind the game that everyone else played but you, but I think it would be different if you had put some time into the previous games and then ended up with the same result of “I don’t get it”. Again I don’t mean to sound like a dick because I’ve felt the same way about a few games that everyone goes nuts over while I’m left in the corner going “WTF?” The Halo series (yes THAT Halo series) being one where any time I borrowed it from a friend I only played multiplayer (which is fun) but I could not get into the campaign at all even when I heard from my friends and reviews that it’s amazing. I don’t know what my deal was but my point is that this situation lends itself to the “don’t knock it until you try it” mentality.

    Anyway, that said I did like your article and I’m actually pretty pumped to read the other ones you guys launched with. I’m also looking forward to see what else you guys put out there because I’ve recently grown tired of reading biased reviews and b/s “news” articles. It seems you guys aim to achieve a more social/philosophical aspect by writing more personal articles about what impact games have on our lives in particular, rather than on our wallets. It’s more like having a conversation with a fellow gamer friend instead of having information incessantly thrown at our face-heads without any personality behind it.

    Good luck on the site and Godspeed.

    1. Stephen Daly

      Hi Ernie,

      As I mentioned, I may get the game eventually. It just isn’t a prerogative for me the way it is for many others.

      There are a lot of games coming out over the next few months that I’m either more familiar with or simply more interested in. I’ll also be buying the next-gen consoles. Spending €60 on something I’m not completely sure of seems like an expense I can’t really afford but again, I’ll probably look into it at some point down the line – my introduction to the series is long overdue.

      Thanks for your good wishes for the site, I appreciate it and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the content so far.

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