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Here’s the story of Grand Theft Auto, which (amazingly) is now 23 years old

Here’s the story of Grand Theft Auto, which (amazingly) is now 23 years old

Imagine a 23-year-old. Out in the world, living their best life: robbing cars, running from the cops, blowing up public buildings. Yep, that 23-year-old is Grand Theft Auto, which first debuted over two decades ago last week.

Now we're not condoning going on the rampage around the streets - though, realistically, if a rampage happens and we're all in the gaff so nobody sees it, did it actually happen? - but Grand Theft Auto might just be our favourite game ever. In fact, in a time like this where we're all forced to stay at home, it's nice to know that there's a whole world available to us inside our Playstations.


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Here in Ireland, we love the Playstation more than most. Indeed, there was a time when we had more of them per capita than any other nation on Earth, including Japan. That time coincided with the best of all the Grand Theft Auto games (if you're asking me), in Vice City. It seemed to be the perfect combination of the console, the PS2, which remains the ultimate in games console tech, and the time, with me being a young fella with absolutely nothing else to do in an incessantly rainy place.

To think that this behemoth of the gaming world was founded so inauspiciously: it was the brainchild of two Scottish blokes - David Jones and Mike Dailly - who ran Rockstar Games out of their studio in Edinburgh. That first game, a simple top scroller of a city, was on the PC at first and later transitioned to the original Playstation: I have vivid memories of first playing it in my mate's house, amazed at the freedom that the player had to move around. At a time when games were linear - you did one thing then another thing - this was the total opposite.

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Come GTA: Vice City, this had been taken to new heights. Not only was there the freedom to roam wherever you wanted, you didn't even have to do the missions anymore. Add to that the colours, the cars and, of course, the amazing idea of having in-built radio stations - still so popular that people have uploaded entire playlists of them to YouTube.

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San Andreas, the next game, came out in 2004 and took this formula and ran with it. Vice City's fictional version of Miami was extended out to California and Las Vegas, and fans loved it. It's regularly cited as the best video game ever, and remains the biggest selling title in the whole run of the PS2. If Vice City was meant to invoke the colors of Miami Vice, Scarface and the like, then San Andreas perfectly recreated that 1990s West Coast environment.

Grand Theft Auto IV got 10/10s in basically every game review publication, while the latest edition, Grand Theft Auto V, is the biggest selling single game of all time and is estimated to have done $6 billion in sales since release in 2013. That brings us to GTA 6, which is eagerly anticipated: it's now been 7 years since the last game, and with two years past since Rockstar Games dropped a game, rumours have swirled that a new offering is imminent.

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The PS5 is due to drop in the next few weeks, and will bring the potential for a new GTA: fake game maps have been released on the internet, and people have even been scouring the Rockstar website to see if they're hiring new staff that might potentially be working on a game. There was a report in April that a new game was in development, but as of yet, the makers haven't said a thing...we can but still wait, speculate and luxuriate in the games that have gone before.

Topics: GTA, Ireland, Rockstar Games

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Mike Wood

Mike Meehall Wood is a freelance journalist and translator. He writes for LADbible, VICE and countless sports publications, focusing on rugby league, football and boxing. He is a graduate of Leeds University and maintains a fizzy pop obsession. Contact Mike at editorial@ladbiblegroup.com