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 game series 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.
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 or fewer. 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 video game shame?