Rockstar explains male-only protagonist roster for Grand Theft Auto V

Cofounder Dan Houser says "the concept of being masculine was so key to this story"; open-world game will span 100 hours.

Rockstar Games cofounder Dan Houser has offered some insight into why none of Grand Theft Auto V's three playable protagonists are female. In an interview with The Guardian, Houser said the decision came down to narrative design.

"The concept of being masculine was so key to this story," Houser said.

GTAV's three playable protagonists are Trevor, Michael, and Franklin. The game's online component, GTA Online, will allow players to create a female character. This game mode will launch on October 1 as a free update to the game.

Also in the interview, Houser said GTAV boasts more than 100 hours of gameplay and that Rockstar Games spent 100 days in Los Angeles conducting "research trips" for the game.

"Out and about, all night long with weird people, strange cops showing us around, a lot of first-hand research," Houser said. "We spoke to FBI agents that have been undercover, experts in the Mafia, street gangsters who know the slang--we even went to see a proper prison. These poor buggers in the middle of the salt flat desert, miles away. It was eye-openingly depressing."

GTAV launches in eight days on September 17 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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1609 comments
ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

Might be something to include next time. Just don't nit pick at the way she is portrayed when it does happen. Unless of course it is totally unrealistic. Then be my guest.

4nationfury
4nationfury

You guys aren't getting it. You're acting like females in lead roles are unrealistic. There are certainly scenarios where this holds water (GTA V is a decent example), but you forget that most video games chuck realism out the window to begin with. It never bothered you then when male leads performed unrealistic feats (super strength, etc.). 

But games have shown us that strong female characters work, can be convincing, and can be engaging. Certainly, writers shouldn't be forced to compromise their vision. (This is coming from a writer) But something tells me that, even when it's a perfect opportunity to place in a female lead, most writers will opt for a male lead. Nothing will change by just letting devs and writers do as they please without someone speaking up. Many feminists want that change and so they speak up, not out of spite, but for the sake of representation and progress. If I were female and a gamer, I'd definitely feel women deserve more representation in video games. Most likely, if you were a female gamer, you would too. Consider whether you're defending artistic integrity or simply brushing away the feminist argument because you have no empathy for it.

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

Here I'll shut up the fembots in a few seconds. 1) Books, Film, and Video games are all expression of freedom of speech/press. 2) Having a all male protagonist is part of the writers' freedom of speech and vision. 3) If you don't like it, you are intolerant of freedom of speech and the creator's vision.

Can there be a female lead in a game? Sure. Can there be a female lead in a GTA game? Yah. It just isn't going to be GTA5. Why force a women into the role if it didn't fit into the writers' vision. Maybe GTA6 will have a female lead.

Nitroc
Nitroc

can look at other games with female leads... they do well, but not compared to alot of others, an not bashing female gamers... just more money to be had the way they went plane an simple! all about the dollar factor!

Atheosis
Atheosis

People really need to get over crap like this.  If you have an issue with their being no female protagonist in the game don't buy it.  It's that simple.

timtedtomtod
timtedtomtod

Uhhhh....and a woman can't be masculine? Isn't what they're saying make it even worse? They're basically saying ' uh, you know, it's, uh, about guy stuff....so you know it's gotta be a man.'  If the story revolved around enlarging prostates or erectile dysfunction, yeah that's guy stuff.  

AlphaLackey
AlphaLackey

You know, that is a fair criticism.  I stand corrected.


Others, perhaps including some of the same, would complain.  Tomb Raider 2013 made that abundantly clear.

lefty2108
lefty2108

Because it's our fucking game.

Cheers,

RS

DevilD2005
DevilD2005

I understand where they are coming from but I think Im ready to play as a female protagonist in GTA.

marios_geo
marios_geo

There are no man in Tomb Raider. Ban now!!!

ZeroX91
ZeroX91

How 'bout people just let writer's write there stories? I'm sick of this push for inclusiveness I don't care what age, gender, race, sexuality, or religion the character I'm play as is as long as the story is good. All this leads to is boring stereotypical female leads and blank sleights (which is just lazy writing).

WalkerLawerence
WalkerLawerence

I don't get where all this heat from lack of a female protagonist is being beamed onto Rockstar? Yeah, I agree videogames needs more female protagonists. But, how all that gets thrown onto Rockstar is just weird. 


Ninjiz
Ninjiz

So many incredibly stupid people in here, completely incapable of having an adult conversation. 

Alexrmf
Alexrmf

any feminist movement complained about the lack of female lead characters for a gangster-themed game? that would actually be the most stupid shit ever... women don't make any good gangsters because they're supposed to be soft and caring (which are very nice traits that are nice to see in women)... so... I don't see an issue here... if some twisted individual wants to play the role of a female gangster .... it doesn't mean that rockstar should give him that possibility 

BieberBeliever
BieberBeliever

Why can't we play as a woman character? Because it wouldn't make any god damn sense. Take your feminist war cries elsewhere. 

Omega-316
Omega-316

If you like playing as a woman then I'm afraid you need to grow a couple strands of hair on your balls and up your testosterone levels.

Rockstar is being too nice about it. Just say no. Straight up NO NEVER and that's the bottom line. Quit asking.

IJONOI
IJONOI

Damn straight. should have been 5 females and 5 males as the main protagonists. 

English M+F, Eastern M+F, Mexican M+F, African M+F, Alien M+F. 

Save everybody's feelings getting hurt. Shame on you R*. Shame on you. 

redskinStu
redskinStu

Are you kidding me? Someone actually asked them "Why wasn't the character female?"

In a gangster game? In a GTA game?

theSFfan_1
theSFfan_1

If the story is well written and good, then who the fuck cares about the protagonist's gender? If the persona's good, then why not? All-in-all, more developers should be a lot more open-minded nowadays.

4nationfury
4nationfury

@ChaosUndivided I agree. If it's blatantly stereotypically, I think some criticism is in order. But I prefer she receive the same scrutiny a male character would, rather than being judged on whether she's a perfect female role model. I mean, I know the scrutiny is because female main characters are rarer, but it just doesn't seem fair.

biggestnewb
biggestnewb

@4nationfury games and certain shows target a certain audience. females are the minority in the gaming community - that's a fact. why would they make a female lead knowing that 80% of the audience that is going to play it is going to be male? that's just bad marketing. people want to relate to things.

that said, they can just go pick up some lara croft games, saints row, just about every RPG let's you choose to be male or female these days.

also, there really isn't a need for developers to focus on this kind of stuff, just because (surprise, surprise) women get a little emotional/offended over this. nobody has to answer to feminists. they're not the judge and jury of everything. even though they may think they are.

i highly doubt having more female characters in the gaming community, making them less sexualized and whatnot is going to change much. if anything, the male audience will just target the females more in online gameplay causing females more likely to quit lol.

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

@4nationfuryI agree in part. It is one thing to ask for a strong female lead. It is another thing to actually go and do it. How many of these feminists are actually in the gaming field? How many actually study computer science or even any of the other hard sciences? These feminists are not the Margaret Thatcher, Marie Curie, or even the Marissa Mayer, Meg Whitman, or Carly Fiorina. Women like the ones I have mentioned, go into these fields and change it themselves. Be the change you want to see.

4nationfury
4nationfury

Books, film, and video games are also free to glorify rape and genocide if they like. That's freedom for you. Doesn't mean people can't complain or that they are wrong to complain. Not liking someone's vision does not make you intolerant of freedom of speech. It just means you don't like it. If I used your logic, game critics couldn't criticize incoherent writing and shallow characters since that would be "intolerant of freedom of speech". People who complain are not forcing the artist and writers to do something against their will. Oh, and by your logic, you ought to stop trying to silence their freedom of speech to complain.

DevilD2005
DevilD2005

also on a note about how women dont work in GTA...

Look at Catalina, the major antagonist in GTA3 she robbed banks with Claude and shot him in the back, Also one of your contacts in GTA 3 is a woman who both contains a scary nature, torturing her targets, and has a level of embodiement of power.

GTA often gives women parody roles to fill, but on occasion they have shown that strong women and imposing women can infact exist. So to say a strong woman gangster wouldnt be realistic for the GTA universe is a lie.

Razorlight6
Razorlight6

That's a ridiculous comparison. Tomb Raider is a series that stars Lara Croft. If it was a a different protagonist with every incarnation, and every one of them was a woman, then asking "why no man?" would be a fair question.

JediKnight366
JediKnight366

@ZeroX91 Inclusiveness doesn't necessarily mean that the female leads will be boring and stereotypical, especially if there's a simultaneous push for more good women writers that can provide a decent alternate viewpoint for the mostly male-dominated industry.

timtedtomtod
timtedtomtod

@WalkerLawerence well, I'd say it's partly because it wasn't just a single protagonist.  They were obviously looking to make the three protagonists have variety, otherwise there wouldn't be a point in having them.  I guess the question becomes, at what point can it be discriminatory- when they code four game male protagonists in a row?  When they create two main protagonists in one game as male? Three? Ten? Or is when they claim that masculinity is key to the story?  

It is actually only with the last scenario, the moment that they prescribe masculinity as a male-only phenomenon.  This is by definition, discriminatory, and funny that it appears in their justification.  They could have just said these were our three characters, this is their story, there are other stories.

Razorlight6
Razorlight6

Where is the heat? An interviewer asked this question, one of many, and a response was given, one of many. Look at the original article. This was a quick mention in the middle of a sentence, and there was no follow up. Knowing it is a hot issue, GameSpot uses it as an incidiery title, and like moths to a flame defensive men come fluttering in crying fowl. GameSpot just trolled you all hard, and you're eating it up.

timtedtomtod
timtedtomtod

@AlexrmfDo you read/watch the news? Women are capable of all the same crimes that men are capable of.

OldDirtyCR
OldDirtyCR

@Alexrmf People like you who spout such ignorance are why feminists exist in the first place.

You believe women are soft and caring, so they are unable to do certain roles. This is why feminists say what they say and believe what they say. There have been huge gangster females such as Griselda Blanco. 

 I think complaints about being no female protag is stupid, but your reasoning is sexist and ignorant. Apparently it's "twisted" to want to have a female gangster. Wtf?

JediKnight366
JediKnight366

@BieberBeliever That some stupid BS, and not because you like Justin Bieber.


Newsflash: female gangsters exist. They're not as common as male gangsters, but they do exist, thus it would kinda make sense for at least one of them to be featured in a GTA.

Penis_Pie
Penis_Pie

@Omega-316 I really wish I was playing real life GTA and I could just run all the scummy men like you over. 

timtedtomtod
timtedtomtod

@Omega-316 Holy crap, can't believe these thoughts exist. A)nothing wrong with a man playing a female character, just as there is nothing telling about a man watching a move with female roles, or reading a book with female characters. B) Your assumption that only men would be playing this game is beyond dated, it never was correct.

JediKnight366
JediKnight366

@Omega-316 Nothing wrong with playing as a lady. Certainly doesn't make me feel any less masculine for doing so, especially in an action game.

ezfaun
ezfaun

@NoteYouMustBeAt  My wife hates that joke and would refuse to cook any food if I ever said that. Had to eat chinese takeout for a week once.

biggestnewb
biggestnewb

@4nationfury you're free to complain about it, but trying to change it all together? that's a whole different thing. when you're trying to change it, you ARE intolerant of their freedom of speech. did you even think before writing your comment?

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

@4nationfury I'm not the one trying to ban video games, organize mass boycott, or censor the games. The nanny left and nanny right is trying to legislate games, censor and ban them. That is just being intolerant. It isn't so much what they say but rather what they want done.

Alexrmf
Alexrmf

@Dat-tsu @redskinStu saint's row is a parody .... GTA is far more serious in my eyes... not mafia-serious but you can't compare it to saint's row either

NoteYouMustBeAt
NoteYouMustBeAt

@ezfaun @NoteYouMustBeAt This is exactly the reason why I have so far succeeded in keeping my virginity for 24 years.

4nationfury
4nationfury

Listen, I do understand the freedom of speech thing. As I stated, I am a writer. It annoys me when people demand writers do what they want. But I believe that in this case, it is for a good cause and I can't get too bothered by the pressure because devs and writers still have the reigns, not the public.

4nationfury
4nationfury

@biggestnewb @4nationfuryShall I scream intolerance every time a petition is made? If a movie promotes racism and murder as good, and a sequel is being made, are people in the wrong for speaking up and pressuring (vocally) for improvement? Nobody is impeding on anyone's freedom of speech here. They're just trying to make progress. It's not even really aimed at one game, but at the industry as a whole. If males were, for the most part, poorly represented by the majority of games, would you or i be in the wrong for bringing it up?