Covering actors, artists, sportsmen, authors, musicians, dancers, producers and even venues, the Hottest Scots showcases country’s talent.
This year’s list is notable for the inclusion of two digital entries. Simon Meek and The Story Mechanics are listed at number 33 for their adaptation of The 39 Steps. However the crowning glory is the number one slot, occupied – for the first time ever by a game developer – where Rockstar North is honoured for ‘an astonishing piece of work‘ for GTA V.
Here’s what The List had to say…
The Hot 100 is our list of Scotland’s 100 hottest individuals and groups who’ve made a splash this year, from comic book writers to comedians, artists to actors. If they’ve contributed to Scotland’s cultural landscape in 2013, you’ll find them in this list. Below, Henry Northmore uncovers the remarkable success of the Edinburgh-based games developer, responsible for one of the most anticipated video game releases ever: Grand Theft Auto V.
When it comes to video game development, Scotland is a genuine world leader in the field. That success is mainly down to Edinburgh company Rockstar North, which produces the phenomenal Grand Theft Auto series. The fifth instalment, released in September 2013, was the company’s most ambitious to date and went on to become the fastest-selling game of all time.
Rockstar North has its roots in Dundee’s DMA Design (which released the classic Lemmings in 1991 and the very first Grand Theft Auto in 1997). By 2001, following a reshuffle in personnel, the company had moved to Edinburgh for the release of GTA III. This was the game that set the blueprint for what was to come – the first open-world instalment, successfully mashing together elements of driving and shooting games. Rather than enforcing a tightly structured linear plot, it allowed players to choose their own routes through the storyline. The game’s scope was astounding, and it was universally praised by critics as the next step in gaming’s evolution. DMA Design officially became Rockstar North in 2002, going on to release a slew of GTA sequels alongside the notorious Manhunt. The R* logo soon became synonymous with quality.
Vice City (2002), San Andreas (2004) and part IV (2008) in the Grand Theft Auto series continued to push boundaries and break new ground in gaming. Building on what had come before, Rockstar North offered even more complex storytelling, creating rich, fictional worlds populated by believable characters (with voice acting from the likes of Samuel L Jackson, Ray Liotta, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds and more).
The release of GTA V came in 2013, and it was one of the most anticipated sequels in gaming. ‘It’s probably been the longest development time of any of our GTAs – four or five years,’ explained Leslie Benzies, president of Rockstar North, back in August. And that extra time paid off: the game flew off the shelves, taking only 15 days to pass $1 billion in worldwide sales, and reaching that staggering figure faster than any other ‘entertainment product’ in history (by way of comparison, Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time, took 19 days to reach $1 billion).
But this isn’t just about units shifted. GTA V is the pinnacle of gaming. At its core, it’s an action title built around missions, shoot-outs and elaborately constructed heists. That doesn’t do the game justice, though: it’s the sheer scope of what you can do within the game world that sets it apart. It’s also the first GTA where you take control of three main characters – Michael, an ex-bank robber in witness protection; Franklin, a former street gangster turned repo agent; and the volatile Trevor. You can swap between them as you delve into an ever deeper, more nuanced narrative.
If you need some context, Rockstar North beat off Andy Murray, Peter Capaldi (yes, they’re cooler than Malcolm Tucker and the new Dr Who), Armando Ianucci, CHVRCHES, Peter Mullen and James McAvoy to seize the top spot.
Congratulations to everyone at Rockstar North… Here’s to many more.