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Video Games December, 9 2013

Read the Fascinating Profile of Sam Houser – ‘The Reclusive Genius Behind the Grand Theft Auto Franchise’

Known to not grant very many interviews, nor like having his photograph snapped, Sam Houser – the man who first brought Grand Theft Auto to the masses in 1997 with his brother, Dan – recently was profiled by Playboy. Recalling the origins of the game, the trouble he got in due to “Hot Coffee,” and the effects 9/11 had on the franchise, it’s a terrific read for fans of both video games and the entrepreneurial spirit. While a choice excerpt appears below, head here to read the piece in its entirety.

But not many know him. In fact, in the past five years, Houser hasn’t given a long interview to anyone but me, and that’s baffling, because what he has to say is sincere, compelling and complex. He can be both insightful and rebellious, embracing different cultures and at the same time full of a healthy paranoia in a kind of punk-rock, hip-hop sort of way. He is an astute student of human nature and, as president of Rockstar Games, a tough negotiator when contracts come up for renewal with parent company Take-Two Interactive.

Partly because of his reputation as a loner and recluse, everyone from journalists who can’t get interviews to a handful of disgruntled former employees has labeled Houser crazy. He is not. He can be intensely private, even avoiding a GTA voice actor when he comes in to record his voice-over work. Houser is a workaholic and he’s stubborn, clearly used to getting his way when he knows he’s right, but he’s definitely not crazy. In fact, there’s something about Sam Houser that is close to genius. If Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto is the Steven Spielberg of video games, Houser is the Martin Scorsese.

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