IGN: How GTA III Carjacked Open World Games

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IGN is celebrating the week leading up to the 10 year anniversary of Grand Theft Auto III's release (October 22nd) with different articles about the game and some interviews with top Rockstar Games people.


The first in this series is "How Grand Theft Auto III Carjacked Open World Games". It talks about how GTA III's simplicity made it fun and how it was a game for everyone. Some excerpts below:
"Grand Theft Auto III didn't invent the idea of the open world game, but it may have perfected it. From Warren Robinett's Adventure for the Atari 2600 to Maxis's offshoot SimCopter, allowing players to author their own experiences in a simulated world has been fundamental to video game design.

Yet the worlds were always far away ones--outer space trading wars or medieval fantasy kingdoms. When there was humor it came from whimsy and pith not player-implicating irony and modern-day realities. Early open world games were for video game fans and fantasy enthusiasts but GTA III changed that. It made an open world experience for everyone, regardless of their interest in games and genre fiction. It was an open world about us, given a sarcastic half-twist.


But all of its diversions hinged on the single mechanic of driving, the illusion of what you thought you were accomplishing was different in each case, but the momentary tension between the constraints of irritating city dwellers and the necessity of getting somewhere new, created the perfect excuse to every once in a while accelerate into a group of pedestrians or go on a shooting spree--a way of finally releasing all the pent up anxiety of having to behave decently in a world where almost no one is deserving of decent behavior.

What's most remarkable about GTA III's approach to open world game design is how rigorously narrow in scope its systems were. We're accustomed to thinking of narrowness as a negative word, but it shouldn't be. With GTA III, this quality of highly focused mechanics--always built around going from A to B--perfectly captured the themes of the game. It's for this reason so many other designers have struggled to recreate the enthralling magic of GTA III with more elaborate mechanics and more varied tasks."

Read the full article here.

Next up tomorrow: Leading games designers honor GTA III

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