Co-Creator of Grand Theft Auto returns to Christ Church

Last week Dan Houser, Co-Creator of the iconic Grand Theft Auto franchise and alumnus of Christ Church (Geography, 1993), dropped in to deliver a talk to a room full of captivated Computer Science students. Dr Irwin Zaid, Lecturer in Computer Science at Christ Church, reports on what the gaming icon had to say. 

On 20 November Computer Science at Christ Church was delighted to host an old member who had dropped by just for the afternoon. It was Dan Houser, a writer, director, and producer known as a mastermind behind the iconic Grand Theft Auto franchise. He co-founded Rockstar Games, a studio that is one of gaming’s all-time great success stories. Dan gave a fascinating talk to all the Computer Science students, who later responded eagerly with insightful questions of their own!

Dan started by expressing his pleasure at seeing how Computer Science at Christ Church had grown, noting 'the internet had just turned on when I got here!' He then spoke about his own remarkable experiences developing video games. To him, a great game is cohesive and without compromise, as if it were designed by a single person. At Rockstar Games, they always focused on user experience first, imagining where a user would journey through a 3D world and building that out, rather than restricting or dictating where users could go.

Speaking more generally, Houser explained how it is hard to avoid hype in technology and that change happens much slower than you might think. In terms of careers, he advocated for following your own interests because it is not always clear where things are going to go. He also emphasised that technical skills alone are not enough, as communication, collaboration, and compromise are vital to any team working on ambitious projects.

Houser was asked if there was any video game he could never put down. His answer? Tetris.

Dan Houser speaking at Christ Church