Up until relatively recently, playing video games was seen as a niche activity, engaged in mostly by children. Much of this was due to the fact that in the first couple of decades of their existence, video games were rather unsophisticated. They tended to feature quite simple gameplay with little or nothing in the way of a convincing plot. As technology progressed, it became possible to develop titles that involved a greater element of strategic thinking. These days, video games have progressed in sophistication to the extent that they are convincing both in terms of graphics and artificial intelligence. With powerful gaming PCs and consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation, software developers are able to create convincing universes.
In the UK, one of the most well established names is gaming software development is Rockstar North under its President, Leslie Benzies. The company is best known for the Grand Theft Auto series. From its inception, the realistic gameplay coupled with the adult content themes of this series provoked plenty of commentary. The latest version of the game, Grand Theft Auto 5 was released in the second half of 2013. The level of attention surrounding the game was comparable of that of a major movie release – if not greater.
The reason for the interest in the game was down to the success of previous titles in the same series. What had captured the imagination of the game playing public was the sheer variety offered in earlier titles. There were certain missions to complete, but at the same time it was possible to get immersed in a fictional universe and take part in all kinds of fun activities that had little or nothing to do with the main mission. There was also a heavy dose of irony and humour in the games that helped to keep them entertaining.
Grand Theft Auto V took all of that to a whole new level. In the UK, the game was released in September and huge sales were responsible for a 45% year-on-year increase in game sales for that month. In fact, sales of the game were singlehandedly responsible for an increase in spending in the British games retail sector for the first time since December 2008 and the start of the economic downturn. It went on to beat video games sales records across the world.