LAS VEGAS – The video game industry gave its highest honor tonight to the leaders of Rockstar Games, best known for its Grand Theft Auto series.
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences inducted Rockstar’s Leslie Benzies, Dan Houser, and Sam Houser as the newest members of its Hall of Fame during the Dice Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Dan Houser spoke for just two minutes onstage, saying that Rockstar usually turns down such awards. That’s because they put the focus on one or two individuals. The Dice Awards committee permitted the Hall of Fame award to go to three people: Benzies and the Housers. The brothers started Rockstar in 1998 and acquired DMA Design (headed by Benzies) and renamed it Rockstar North in 1999.
Only 20 people have received this honor in the history of gaming, and the Housers in particular are the most reclusive.
Phil Harrison, the corporate vice president of Microsoft, praised Rockstar titles such as Red Dead Redemption and 2013′s biggest video game, Grand Theft Auto V. The Housers earned the wrath of wannabe video game censors as the bad boys of gaming thanks to the nonstop violence and sexual references in Rockstar games. But gamers embraced the adult-oriented themes of Rockstar games and bought them by the tens of millions. That generated billions of dollars in sales for Rockstar and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive.
But while Rockstar has hundreds of employees, its creative force was embodied in the Housers and Benzies. Their games are well-crafted, story-driven, and let gamers explore hours and hours of open-world experiences. Grand Theft Auto V, launched in September, has sold more than 32.5 million copies. All told, Rockstar games have sold 250 million copies.
Dan Houser and Benizes accepted the award, while Sam Houser wasn’t present. Dan Houser said Rockstar was very touched by the award and that “it made us feel like we were 105″ years old.
“Rockstar is a family, an occasionally dysfunctional family” full of people like third-rate writers, Houser said. Separately, they’re a bunch of misfits.
But at Rockstar, he said, “We all belong and have found a home together. We love games and we love the maniacs who make them.”