Video game level designs were like hotel floor layouts before Grand Theft Auto III: opulent rooms that you enjoyed immensely while in them but connected by dreary hallways of necessity.
What Rockstar Games’ open-world revolution gave players, then, was an estate, one where you became a demigod of chaos without consequence.
Grand Theft Auto III turned PlayStation 2s everywhere into roiling vistas of possibility where the id could run free and even the drudgery of getting around was a thrill.
It’s almost laughable that its cartoonish violence was ever deemed controversial, because Rockstar arguably didn’t get serious about its narratives until later. The punky scrappiness of Grand Theft Auto III harbored a rock-solid intuition about the new shape of fun, a hunch that continues to pay off very handsomely for Rockstar, its fans and video games in general.
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