We have had five numbered GTA games, spanning three unique locations. Most gamers will be more than familiar with Liberty City, Vice City and San Andreas. However, Rockstar North’s hit series did have a little stay elsewhere. Moreover, I have a strong case for it coming back. Remembering GTA’s short flirtation with 1960s London, I am excited about the prospect of GTA 6 returning to the great city. But this time in the modern day London.
Whiff-Waff is coming home!
Did you know that Ping-Pong was invented in Britain and was originally called Whiff-Waff? Like Whiff-Waff, the United States of America and Marmite, GTA originates from Britain. In 1997, DMA Design started the series that would change the world of gaming. Grand Theft Auto was a UK best-seller and an instant cult classic. Featuring unrivaled freedom, satisfying speed and vicious violence, the game more than made up for its unimpressive graphics. Thanks to the game’s success, DMA Design quickly changed hands and eventually became part of the much-loved Rockstar Games. Now known as Rockstar North, the Edinburgh studio continues to dominate the world of cops and robbers.
In 1999, DMA Design released two map packs for Grand Theft Auto – Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and Grand Theft Auto: London 1961. Both set in the fictional city of London in the 1960s, where racism doesn’t really exist, the expansions changed little apart from aesthetics. And that is a massive shame. The game was critically acclaimed for its authentic soundtrack but lambasted for keeping all of its mother’s flaws. Among many British gamers, however, GTA: London still holds a special place in their hearts.
You What, Mate?
London is an amazing place. It is seeped, nay, drowned in culture. Huge industrial vats of it. You can see the world from a cab window if you travel from the East End to the West End. But Rockstar have used fictitious versions of real cities since GTA III released in 2001, I hear you say? Welcome to Royal City! Royal City is a beehive full of sweet, sweet money and people who want it all for themselves. Your typical corner gun stores from Liberty City are replaced with green grocers who carry a little extra. The buses are taller and the cabs are blacker. The sky is full of ambulance helicopters and overseas planes, bringing ever more hopefuls into this melting pot.
London’s cultural eclecticism is the perfect template for a GTA city. A Royal City road can take you from a mosque next to Ginsberg Park to Mustbill Hill, the Jewish district. From the bustling, fiery Chinatown of Covet Gardens to the hipster hub that is Poxton. You would see areas like Totalham and Clasham boast modernist flats around the corner from run-down estates. London’s wealth divide is so evident from road to road, that it already feels video gamey. Rockstar North are one of the few teams that could do modern day London justice and really capture the grittiness and quirkiness of London. You thought San Andreas was a strange place? Wait until you visit Yoho at night-time.
Blud, Everyone Knows About “Blud”!
The narrative stress should be placed on the inner-city working class youth. The urban British are probably the most underrepresented demographic in gaming. I mean, name one ghetto Brit you’ve come across in a game? Let’s not take the Mick, even the ever popular Cockney slang is quite obscure. So I can’t Adam and Eve that I’m on my Jack when I say we need more modern Brits in games (if you’re unsure what any of that meant, have a butcher’s here). Urban British slang of today is a beautiful bastardisation of the Caribbean patois and to many would be a whole new language. It carries rhythms and melodies that lend themselves to fast-paced and often violent music. Ergo, it would work in a fast-paced, violent game.
Rockstar North have a good track record of creating interesting original stories. GTA V is proof enough that the next step would be tackling post-Brexit Britain. In a framework similar to the latest iteration, our Royal City story could well feature three protagonists from very different backgrounds. A middle-aged African fraudster, who left his violent crime days in the long-gone past. A young Asian gang-banger desperate to prove himself ‘in the field’. A Bulgarian burglar whose weak social skills led him to a life of crime. You could build a pantheon of support characters like a Somali arms dealer and Philosophy student, a Turkish bank clerk and hacker, a Scottish spoken word poet and former Royal Navy sniper, an English yuppie web designer with a penchant for things ‘not for sale’. And nothing brings people together like quick money.
GTA 6: London is Well Deserved
GTA has been this great modernist work of art for a while now. It lightheartedly explores all that is wrong with the world and how much we love the wrongness. What better place to take this quintessentially British attitude to than Britain itself? Royal City is a place of togetherness but also territoriality. Gangs with a wide spectrum of ethnic backgrounds within them fight over areas they live in. Postal codes determine who one should side with. And when your main concern is getting rich enough to own three houses in the city centre, your current post code is a burden more than a badge of honour.
GTA 6: London is the GTA we all deserve. No more of driving on the wrong side of the road, I say! Enough of the hard but somehow lazy accents, for goodness sake! No more sandy beaches, no more roads wider than the cars on them, no more pedestrians with a sense of self-preservation! It’s time for Whiff-Waff to come home. It’s time to set
London Royal City on fire!