How computer whizz from Dundee roped his friends into creating video game set in ‘virtual 3D city’ that turned into crime series global phenomenon which revolutionised gaming

By Tom Cotterill and Arthur Parashar

21:21 05 Dec 2023, up to date 11:45 06 Dec 2023

Since taking the gaming world by storm in 1997, Grand Theft Auto has discovered itself set in a few of America’s most iconic cities, from New York and San Francisco to Los Angeles – with its newest journey being staged in a reimagined model of Miami.

But the true roots of the multi-billion pound phenomena are from the glitzy settings of the Hollywood Hills or Florida’s sun-kissed seashores, with the series having in reality been created in Scottish coastal metropolis of Dundee. 

More than 25 years after the primary game was launched, it has been confirmed that GTA VI might be launched in 2025 after the official trailer was launched this week following a social media leak. 

Pals David Jones, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond and Mike Dailly got here collectively in 1995 to create the primary Grand Theft Auto, slaving in a two-room workplace above a small store in the town centre that offered child garments. 

Mr Dailly – who was behind the 1991 basic puzzler Lemmings – had been enjoying with the concept of creating a ‘digital 3D metropolis’ that would enable players to roam freely and do as they happy. 

The preliminary concept was a far cry from the outrageous, debauched crime shooter that Grand Theft Auto has turn into well-known for, stuffed with intercourse and unfettered violence.

DMA Designs have been behind the unique prototype of Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings. Pictured left to proper is the crew in 2011, Russell Kay, Mike Dailly, Steve Hammond, Gary Timmons, David Jones
Mike Dailly (pictured) was additionally behind the 1991 basic puzzler Lemmings. He had been enjoying with the concept of creating a ‘digital 3D metropolis’ that would enable players to roam freely and do as they happy

At first, the crew needed their protagonist to be a police officer – earlier than then flipping the concept on its head and making him a prison as a substitute. 

‘You simply cannot go round working over folks when you’re a cop — no person preferred enjoying the cop,’ Brian Baglow, an early crew member and author of the primary game, instructed The New York Times

READ MORE: Grand Theft Auto trailer ‘is on monitor’ to be probably the most watched YouTube clip in 24 hours EVER after teaser for brand spanking new GTA6 was launched immediately 

The 4, who ran an organization referred to as DMA Design, met in the 1980s and have been fascinated by American gangster movies like ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Scarface’, and sought to base their game on a gritty model of the US. 

Mr Kay, who rewrote the game for consoles after it was initially launched on the PC, stated they needed to set Grand Theft Auto in a extra unique location. 

‘Dundee was a shadow of its former self –  it wasn’t the nicest of locations,’ he added. ‘We did not assume it could be thrilling if the video games have been set in Dundee.’

DMA Design’s formation additionally got here after Mr Jones had misplaced his job following the closure of Dundee’s Timex manufacturing facility. He used his redundancy cash to buy an Amiga 100 computer. It was right here that he began writing code for a video got here referred to as Menace.

He then met the others on the Kingsway Amateur Computer Club the place they toyed with the concept of creating video video games.

Under the title DMA Design – a nod to the Amiga programming information, Direct Memory Access – they launched a brand new enterprise.

The entrepreneurs began designing video games in the small constructing in Dundee’s Nethergate space, together with the discharge of Lemmings on Valentine’s Day 1991. It went on to be their most profitable game, promoting over 20 million copies.

Although Grand Theft Auto might not be developed in Dundee (pictured) anymore, it is going to all the time be generally known as a metropolis the place the critically acclaimed video game was first created
‘GTA VI’ might be launched in 2025 and might be set in the fictional Vice City, paying homage to Miami
The trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6 has been launched after a teaser for Rockstar Games’ open-world crime series was leaked on social media
The game seems to have remained true to its outrageous roots, with one scene displaying a girl twerking on the highest of a automobile

Four years later, they launched into a brand new video game referred to as Race’n’Chase. A four-step plan was put in place to assist the manufacturing transfer easily however not one of the deliberate goal dates have been met.

During the event part, Race’n’Chase can be renamed to Grand Theft Auto – and two-and-a-half years later, the blockbuster game would hit the cabinets.

After going through a serious backlash over the affect the violence might have on youngsters, together with in the UK, Australia and Brazil (the place it was even banned), it was unclear whether or not the game would take off.

But in stark distinction, the controversy really triggered an enormous soar in gross sales, making the GTA series one of many highest promoting video games of all time. The game has offered greater than 125 million items worldwide since 1997.

DMA Design was ultimately offered to Rockstar Games following a series of sophisticated takeovers – and the Dundee connection was damaged.

Rockstar Games now boasts eight studios, together with the Edinburgh-based Rockstar North which is tasked with producing artistic content material for GTA.

The firm is likely one of the greatest game builders in the UK, with 300 workers members. There are round 80 builders in and round Dundee now as Scotland has turn into one of many greatest areas for gaming corporations in Europe.

Although the game centres round American tradition, GTA has stayed true to its roots and included a number of Scottish references.

Fictional metropolis San Fierro includes a rich district referred to as Calton Heights, named after the Carlton space in Glasgow, which is infamous for its excessive crime charge. 

The Hippy Shopper chain can be in San Fierro – a twist on the Happy Shopper grocery chain in Scotland and the remainder of the UK.

GTA has stayed true to its roots and included a number of Dundee (pictured) and Scotland references
Mike Dailly (pictured) blasted the animations in the newest GTA game. He stated ‘nobody strikes like that’

Elsewhere, the Scotland flag is seen draped over a constructing in one other metropolis referred to as Saltire.

And a racehorse referred to as Scotland Nil takes a cheeky swipe on the lengthy historical past of goalless matches by Scotland’s soccer crew. 

Dundee itself has additionally had its legacy continued in the game. One of the city’s landmarks was featured on a billboard in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, whereas an album referred to as ‘Let’s go Dundee!!!’ is marketed in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

And in the third game, Trainspotting actor Kevin McKidd, makes a voice look because the lead singer of fictional Scots heavy steel band Love Fist. 

One of the band members may be seen sporting an Argentina soccer shirt – an homage to the Dundee FC away high celebrating World Cup star Claudio Caniggia who performed for the membership when the game was in manufacturing. 

Even Dundee’s radio station Wave 102 makes its personal cameo in the franchise, as Wave 103 in Vice City. 

One of Vice City’s missions entails promoting medication from ice cream vans – a reference to the violent Ice Cream Wars in Glasgow throughout the 1980s.

The Scottish references have been welcomed by some however condemned by others in the previous.

‘These little inside jokes are very intelligent,’ Mr Baglow stated. ‘It makes me very glad.’ 

But David Paterson, a councillor for the Scottish city of Hawick, stated he was ‘completely disgusted’ by his city getting used for a ‘druggie hipster’ district in GTA V.

‘It goes to destroy the nice popularity of the city,’ he stated in 2013. 

Mr Dailly – who joined the SNP in March – has blasted the animations in the newest GTA game.

He tweeted: ‘Looks fairly, however the animations…bloody hell guys. Can’t you animate issues correctly? No one strikes like that!’

Although Grand Theft Auto might not be developed in Dundee anymore, it is going to all the time be generally known as a metropolis the place the critically acclaimed video game was first created.

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