We are just 1 week away from the much-anticipated Grand Theft Auto 5 release, and it took all this time just to get one person to talk about the lack of playable female characters in the main game. Thankfully, Rockstar Games co-founder and writer Dan Houser was able to explain his side of the story to OXM.
It’s not much, but the official answer is that, “the concept of being masculine was so key to this story.” It is a small part in a much larger story that explains the meticulous detail in which they researched Los Angeles for Grand Theft Auto 5. Female characters can be used in online play, however.
On the surface, it looks like a cop out for not being able to write a strong, playable female role in the main story. That is until you factor into how well Grand Theft Auto III handled the writing and dialogue of main antagonist Catalina. The same antagonist was later featured as a major character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, making her heavily featured in arguably the best GTA games in the series. The writing team behind Grand Theft Auto 5 must have something in mind when they talk about masculinity as a key aspect of the story, which will be interesting to see how they develop. We can’t know for sure the validity of their reasoning until we play the game ourselves.
Regardless, video game developers should not be held to a standard created by a vocal minority to tailor their games to their standards. This reasoning works in two ways. The first way is the basic understanding of artistic freedom. Creators of content in any medium of art should be able to create what they want however they want within the law, just as people who oppose should be free to not partake in said content.
The second way is on purely financial grounds. Grand Theft Auto IV has sold over 25 million copies to date, while the series in its entirety has sold 125 million copies, making it the 6th best selling video game franchise of all time. While many of the people who are working on Grand Theft Auto 5 enjoy making video games, the #1 reason they show up to work is to make a lot of money off their creation. Because they are so good at what they do, they can continue to make their games however they want.
Even if it would be pretty cool to see a female lead in a GTA game.
Grand Theft Auto 5 will hit the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17.