The Billion Dollar Video Game

If you weren't aware of the release of the latest instalment of the video game franchise Grand Theft Auto then I really have to ask the question, where on earth have you been?

GTA V is the most expensive video game ever assembled. Costing a reported £170 million to make, this game is all the evidence one would need to realise that today's video games mean bigger business than the pop world and even Hollywood.

Any question people may have had about whether or not a game is worth spending that much money on, have since been silenced as reports came in that on the first day of release GTA had already made over $500 million. So here we are one week after release and reports have already claimed that the game has made in excess of $1 Billion. By far the most successful first week in any medium, be it game, music or movie.

Beginning at midnight on Monday, consumers around the world gathered in anticipation to be among the first to experience the evolution of this remarkable series. In North America alone, more than 8,300 stores opened their doors at midnight to welcome fans whose loyalty and enthusiasm were rewarded with what The New York Times called ‘the most immersive spectacle in interactive entertainment’.

Was it worth it? It certainly seems so. Grand Theft Auto aims to set the new standard for video games. It is the pinnacle of open world gaming and a colossal technical achievement. Rockstar Games have created an entire world which gamers can explore and take advantage of. Aside from the standard gameplay of stealing cars, beating up bystanders and completing missions, gamers can play tennis or golf, fly airplanes and jets and even watch television if they wish. (Just imagine watching television on your tv!) GTA V looks set to keep hordes of young gamers locked inside in an ever expanding online world.

The sheer size and scale of the game must really been seen to be believed. Los Santos, as the virtual world is called, is a sprawling mass of tangled roads, high rise skyscrapers, boarded up shops, dishevelled street corners and lavish mansions. Away from the city lies a seemingly colossal landscape of rich countryside filled with trailer parks and rednecks. This game feels less like a rigid and confined virtual space and more of an open and free world. One which is filled with considerably more dangerous fun than the real world in which we all live.

A status update from a friend of mine whom reluctantly returned to work on the Monday after buying the game sums it all up for me:

"I am at work, but my mind is still in Los Santos"

Indeed.