It was one thing for Guitar Hero creators Alex Rigopulous and Eran Egozy to make Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential people list last year. But this year — a pair of virtual godfathers made the cut: Sam and Dan Houser, the brothers behind Rockstar Games’ best-selling (and not exactly family-friendly) Grand Theft Auto franchise. The most recent installment, GTA IV, broke entertainment sales records by netting $310 million the day it was released.
Millions of gamers have racked up hours building criminal empires in the duo’s life-like versions of New York City, Los Angeles and Miami. The storylines blend ample doses of robbery and murder with pop culture and American history. (GTA Vice City, for example, depicted Miami in the coke-fueled ’80s, while GTA San Andreas dealt with LA’s gangs and riots in the ’90s). Controversy has followed the franchise along the way: Groups like the Parents Television Council and legislators like Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) have tried to keep the games off retailers shelves. In 2005, Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive (NSDQ: TTWO), lost about $30 million after explicit sexual content was discovered in one of the games. (The affected titles had to be recalled and re-released).
Photo Credit: Chris Lyons for Time