Rockstar Games, the creator of the Grand Theft Auto series, is to be awarded with a Bafta Fellowship. The accolade celebrates outstanding artistic achievement in movies, television and video games.
The company’s founders Sam and Dan Houser, along with Grand Theft Auto developers Leslie Benzies and Aaron Garbut, will accept the honour at the Bafta video game awards, taking place in London on 12 March.
Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world. The most recent instalment, GTA V, has sold over 32m copies since its launch in September, earning $1bn in revenue in the space of just three days, out-performing the biggest movie releases. The entire series, which began in 1997, has sold over 250m copies.
Although controversial for their mature, often extremely violent content, the Grand Theft Auto titles are critically revered for their sheer scope and design ambition. Set in a fictionalised version of the United States, each game follows a selection of gangsters and hoodlums as they rise through the criminal ranks, attempting ever more ambitious heists. The open-world nature of the environments means players are free to do what they please between missions, stealing cars, setting up their own businesses and even playing the stock exchange. Filled with damaged, ruthless characters including corrupt politicians, aspiring actors and shadowy government agencies, the titles are often seen as satires on modern Western Society.
“We have long believed in the potential for videogames to become a new form of cultural expression and worked to show that in our games, so for us accepting the BAFTA Fellowship is incredibly humbling,” said Sam Houser, who founded Rockstar Games in 1998. “This honour reflects the creative vision and dedication of a huge number of people over many years, and we look forward to accepting the Fellowship on their behalf.”
Previous recipients of the video game fellowship include Will Wright, the creator of Sim City and The Sims, and Shigeru Miyamoto, the designer of the Super Mario and Zelda games. The accolade will be presented as part of a refreshed British Academy Games Awards ceremony, which will be open to the public for the first time, and includes a showcase where many of the nominated titles will be playable.
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