Houser says GTA5 is so massive because he wants to get intimate with the three main protagonists and allow players to explore ideas of classic Americana as perceived through the veil of spray-on tanner. There are no playable female characters in GTA5 because "the concept of being masculine was so key to this story," he says.
"LA is this embodiment of 20th century American desires: the houses, the gardens, the tans, all slightly fake," Houser says. "It's the end of the western world – the suns sets and then it's tomorrow. But the industry is movies or, equally phoney, real estate. It's people trying to escape their pasts and reinvent themselves. If GTA 4 was a classic New York story, this is the endpoint of the American dream."
Rockstar spent 100 days on "research trips" to LA: "Out and about, all night long with weird people, strange cops showing us around, a lot of first-hand research. 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."
Sounds like a great foundation for a fun-filled game – or even a movie. Rockstar has been approached multiple times to make a Grand Theft Auto film, but it's not worth the risk, Houser says. "We've been offered, many times, and it's never appealed. The money's never been close to be worth risking one's crown jewels."