How Rockstar has redefined what video games can be

While it’s not without its share of controversy, Rockstar Games is a master at designing worlds that players don’t want to leave. As a part of our Annual 2019 coverage, Emma Tucker examines its innovative approach

You know what you’re getting when you pick up a Rockstar Games title. Over the past two decades, the studio has earned a reputation for creating big storylines, in-depth worlds, enjoyably clichéd characters and usually, plenty of violence. Its titles include the hugely successful but controversial Grand Theft Auto Series, which sends players on criminal missions across fictional US cities based on real-life locations; detective story LA Noire, and the most talked-about game of 2018 –  Red Dead Redemption 2.

It’s easy to shrug Rockstar off as yet another purveyor of violent video games. But games journalist Alex Wiltshire sees them as “interestingly problematic”.

“There’s so much controversy around them, and yet what they create is rarely anything less than market-leading and creatively leading, despite the questions around it, the politics behind the work practices that went into making it, and the violence in game design,” he tells CR. “There’s always a huge amount to discuss and think about in whatever they make.”