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‘Grand Theft Auto V’ Characters Will Make You Want To Play

‘Grand Theft Auto V’ gets a new character trailer, introducing the three main protagonists of the game.

Three Men and a Story

Michael is a middle-aged white guy in a midlife crisis. He’s rich and miserable. Even his therapist wants to leave him.

Franklin is stuck in gangland, trying to navigate the violence of a mean and deadly city.

Trevor’s just out to have fun, which apparently involves lots and lots of chaos. He’s a free-spirited hillbilly with a penchant for destruction.

At least, that’s what I gather from the new Grand Theft Auto V trailer, which you can watch below.

The game looks amazing. The graphics, the action, the dialogue. But it’s really these characters that have me most excited about GTAV.

Rockstar is one of the best in the business when it comes to writing this type of story. I thought Max Payne 3 was an okay game—not great, and not nearly as interesting as the GTA franchise—but the writing and characterization of Max Payne himself were terrific.

Of course, Max was not a fun guy to hang out with. Like some modern-day Humphrey Bogart, he had some great film noir one-liners, but outside of those moments he was basically a drunk, pill-popping killer. He was misery incarnate. If a bullet didn’t get him, surely his own self-loathing would.

GTAV’s trio of protagonists don’t look like the sort of people I’d want to spend time with either—at least not in real life.

But in a video game?

Well, check out the trailer and be your own judge:

I’d spend time with these people, in this world, in a video game any day. I’m sure I will be spending many days with them later this year, a prospect that makes me undeniably happy.

Marketing the Mayhem

As good as Rockstar is at making video games and writing characters, though, it may be their marketing department that deserves credit here.

Jason Evangelho pointed out not long ago that the video game developer’s strategy is pretty simple: starve the press.

Rockstar’s marketing strategy is to give out as little as possible. A hint here, an image there. Early screenshots of the game were devoid of protagonists or action—a helicopter above a city, a shot of the bay. Calm, peaceful, relaxing shots of a city we know is about to erupt in violence and action.

They draw us along, inch by inch, and let the gaming press and the forums do the legwork. The rumors and speculation drive hype.

This is similar to what some other video game companies do. Valve is a great example. They keep their cards close to their chest so that any announcement, any new scrap of evidence, can catch fire the moment it hits the internet.

In many ways, it’s the same strategy Apple uses for its products. The question is, can companies without these reputations pull it off? Is starving the press a marketing tactic that could work for a company without Valve, or Rockstar, or Apple’s track record?

Less is more, Evangelho argues, because it drives important speculation. “Not only does it foster fascinating discourse among the gaming community, but it’s refreshing to have some surprises left to unearth after you rip open the shrink wrap.”

Of course, now we’re getting more information, and quite a lot more. But the hype is flowing fast and steady still, and finally getting a real taste of the world and its characters won’t slow that train down now. (This isn’t the first trailer for the game, but it’s the first one that’s revealed this much story.)

Grand Theft Auto V launches September 17th, 2013 on Xbox 360 and PS3 with a later release on PC.

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