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Behind-the-scenes video of Grand Theft Auto from 1996 has fans convinced it ‘wouldn’t take off’

Kit Roberts

| Last updated 

It might now be one of the most widely known video games of all time, but when it was first trialled it wasn't nearly the hit it would eventually become.

In 1996, BBC reporter Rory Cellan Jones went along to the Dundee offices of a video game company. The firm, called DMA Design, had had some success off the back of a game called Lemmings but it seemed that this was just the beginning for them.

Inside the offices where Grand Theft Auto began. Credit: YouTube / BBC Archives
Inside the offices where Grand Theft Auto began. Credit: YouTube / BBC Archives

The reporter went through into the office, and announced that the people around him were working on a new game to be released soon. DMA Design would later change its name to Rockstar Games, and the game they were developing was, of course, called Grand Theft Auto.


Jones spoke to software designer Dave, who told him all about the upcoming game.

Dave said: "It's a game where you're driving round a city stealing cars, running over pedestrians, dealing with emergency services, police.

"When we need to we work late, very late sometimes. We've had a couple of all-nighters to hit other deadlines that we've had in."

The very first Grand Theft Auto was released on Playstation and PC in 1997. While you can see the beginnings of the open-world structure of the later games, this version was not 3d, but a top down view.


Players would roam around a city stealing cars and outrunning police.

One of the maps used in the game. Credit: YouTube / BBC Archives
One of the maps used in the game. Credit: YouTube / BBC Archives

Play tester Gordon said: "It's not strictly true to say that we play all day. We commune with the programmers at every stage to tell them what is fun.

"So a programmer has an idea of what a game should do, but a programmer's ideas aren't always fun."


It was not until the third game in the series, Grand Theft Auto III, was released that the now iconic third person perspective and 3D play was used.

Since then, the game has gone on to thrill and delight its players and horrify its detractors the world over. It's been blamed for spikes in violent crime and encouraging young people to carry out violent acts.

The series was even banned in some countries, including Brazil and Australia, over its violent content as the media cottoned onto a moral panic, and legislators wrung their hands over the moral degradation. Honestly. Kids these days.

But, as often happens when you try to ban something, this has only fuelled GTA's popularity. The series which had its humble beginnings in an office in Dundee is now widely considered one of the most influential video games to have ever been produced.

Topics: News, UK News, Gaming, Retro Gaming

Kit Roberts
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