<Rockstar cleans up its "frat boy culture" for gta
>With a new tone at the company and a change in creative direction,GTA VI will probably feel very different from its predecessor.
>In the summer of 2020, after a police officer killedGeorge Floyd, Rockstar Games quietly shelved a mode of play it had planned to release for its Grand Theft Auto Online game.
>Called Cops ‘n’Crooks, the mode was a twist on the children’s game where players organize into teams of goodguys and badguys, but seemed especially tone-deaf during the global reckoning over police violence. Senior executives at the company, concerned about how the narrative might be interpreted during a time of heightened skepticism and mistrust of American police, put it aside. They still haven’t made plans to bring it back, according to people familiar with development.
>This was one of several politically sensitive actions Rockstar, a division ofTake-Two Interactive Software Inc., has taken in recent years. The company removed transphobic jokes from the most recent console release of Grand Theft Auto V andsignificantly narrowed its gender pay gap. Rockstar’s next game, Grand Theft Auto VI, will include a playable female protagonist for the first time, according to people familiar with the game. The woman, who is Latina, will be one of a pair of leading characters in a story influenced by the bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde, the people said. Developersare also being cautious not to “punch down” by makingjokes about marginalized groups, the people said, in contrast to previous games.
>Moves like these once seemed unthinkable for a company whose best-selling franchiseis a satirical depiction of America thatinvolves playing gangsters who kill civilians and where women are mostly depicted as sex objects. Grand Theft Auto V was a nihilistic parody that threw insultsat everything, from right-wing radio hosts to liberal politicians. Inside the company, the tone wasn’t much different. Rockstar employees described a workplace culture full of drinking, brawling and excursions to strip clubs. The company was an early symbol of an industry-wide problem of long hours at the office, known ascrunch, in which staff were expected to be at their desksmany nights and weekends in order to keep a game on schedule.
>That strategywas financially successful and turned Grand Theft Auto V into the second-best selling game of all time, with 165 million copies sold. It also led to burnout, attrition and a public controversy in 2018 that promptedhundreds ofRockstar employees to speak outabout the difficult work environment.
>Since that outcry, Rockstar has attempted to reinvent itself as a more progressive and compassionate workplace, according to interviews with more than 20 people who work there or left recently,all of whom requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. One employee described it as “a boys’ club transformed into a real company.” A spokesman for Rockstar declined to comment.
>Can a kinder, gentler Rockstar still produce the chart-topping caliber of game the studio has become known for? Some employees aren’t sure. Morale across the company is higher than it’s ever been, according to many staffers. But the development of Grand Theft Auto VI has been slower than impatient fans and even longtime employees have expected.