IT HAS been described as the greatest cultural export Scotland has ever produced – and it is not haggis, bagpipes, whisky or even Braveheart.
The fifth edition of the Grand Theft Auto franchise will be released later this month in what has been billed as the biggest game release in history. Thousands of copies of the game have been pre-ordered at stores across Edinburgh. All five of the Capital’s Game shops are preparing to open their doors past midnight on September 17 to sate the needs of avid fans.
The giant billing for Grand Theft Auto V is another plaudit for Edinburgh-based creators Rockstar North – the video game developer that first launched the series to eventual acclaim in 1997.
The often controversial franchise, which allows gamers to play as a petty hood who works his way up through criminal ranks, had sold more than 125 million units worldwide as of last year.
Fundraiser Tom Freeman, who launched the 24-hour video game marathon Sick Kids Save Point in 2010, said Grand Theft Auto was by far Edinburgh’s biggest cultural export. He described Rockstar North as “local heroes”, saying: “Grand Theft Auto has made more money than Braveheart, Trainspotting and all of those things put together. It’s a big deal.
“The thing about Grand Theft Auto is it’s unmistakably Scottish. The humour is very, very Scottish. There’s loads and loads of Scottish references in it. Really it’s a Scottish satirical take on the American dream. I can’t wait.”
In a bid for realism, GTA series writer and producer Lazlow Jones has revealed the game developer has gone as far as recruiting “real-life gangsters” to record the voices for several characters in the game.
The Game store at Fort Kinnaird retail park will give itself over to the madness surrounding the franchise’s first release in five years.
The shop will open at about 11.30pm and is expecting keen gamers in store until 4am. The outlet’s logo is changing to mimic the GTA font, with all the floor and walls given over to Grand Theft Auto images.
Deputy store manager Meagan Mackenzie said: “We’ll end up having a massive queue that’ll go out around the door. It’s a fairly big deal. With the fact that it was supposed to be released last year – it’s been pushed back and pushed back – there’s a lot of anticipation around it.”
Carlo Edwards, from Game’s St James Centre store, said the outlet would open even earlier from 8pm, with nearby eateries Costa and Subway also likely to run over midnight.
He said more than 800 copies of the game had already been ordered from his shop alone. “This is probably going to be the biggest game launch of all time,” he said.
Driven by controversy
THE Grand Theft Auto video game franchise has courted controversy for combining sexually explicit themes with graphic violence.
The game’s third edition drew criticism for allowing players to carjack vehicles, for allowing players to have implied sex with a prostitute and even killing prostitutes to steal their money. The 2002 release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City also drew allegations of having encouraged race-hate crimes, with the lead character using offensive language in a fictionalised shoot-outs between Haitians and Cuban refugees.
Rockstar Games responded by removing several lines of dialogue.