The videogame industry works like the record industry: Labels put out CDs created by bands, and publishers put out software created by developers. BMG Interactive released several games in the mid-1990s, but its big break came when it received a pitch from a developer in Scotland for a game called .The graphics were primitive, with an overhead point of view that looked like you were pushing toy Hot Wheels cars through a maze. The only limitation was your “wanted” level: Cause enough mayhem and a cop’s face would appear on a meter at the top of the screen. Commit more egregious crimes and your wanted level increased. At wanted level three, police would begin to set up roadblocks.Almost a decade ago, a gang of young prep-school-educated Brits invaded New York with a then-outrageous dream: to make video-games hip.They would elevate a medium built on Mario and Pokémon into something defiantly grown-up — games that would earn a place on shelves between titles have pulled in a billion dollars in revenue.Their dad, Wally, was co-owner of a jazz nightclub, and in the early ’80s the brothers developed an obsession with the hip hop scene across the pond in New York.
INTRO LEVELDan and Sam Houser had dreamed of rock stardom since they were school kids in London.Paul’s School to throw on records, sneak smokes, and dream.Sam and Dan, now 35 and 33, idolized not only the rappers and the DJs but also producer Rick Rubin of Def Jam Recordings.It was October 2002, and I had been granted a rare interview with the gang behind the blockbuster game franchise: Sam, his younger brother Dan, and their childhood friend Terry Donovan.We were sitting in Rockstar's stylish New York City office as Sam explained that concerns about the violence in his games were unfounded because had a moral system hard-coded into it.He’ll be sentenced in August, and his departure was emblematic of a company that has seen three CEOs and two CFOs leave since 2001.For all the financial irregularities and management shuffles, though, a few lines of code written into one of Rockstar’s games would cause even bigger headaches.But the game’s urban environment teemed with mobsters and thugs, and gameplay centered around boosting cars, rubbing out enemies, and rising through the underworld. If you got busted, you got carted off to jail and your weapons were confiscated. “The problem with other games is that when you hit a point that’s frustrating, you can’t get past it,” Sam Houser told me.“In In 1998, BMG’s games division was bought by Take-Two Interactive, a scrappy publisher in New York. Take-Two had been launched in 1993 by a 21-year-old named Ryan Brant.Since the story appeared, five of the six Take Two board members have been ousted, including chief executive Paul Eibeler, and the company is fighting off a takeover bid from Electronic Arts.A class action suit was settled over the unintentional inclusion of "scenes of a sexual nature" in the previous , the all-time best-selling game in the United States.*- - -“There are repercussions for the choices you make,” said Sam Houser, cofounder and president of Rockstar Games.