Behind Grand Theft Auto V: The 'Rockstar' creators of gaming's cult hit

Julian Gavaghan
GTA V details revealed, Rockstar's biggest game yet. Grand Theft Auto V, Gaming, Xbox 360, PS3, Rockstar 0

They are British cult heroes, scruffy yet dripping with wealth, siblings with a reputation for wild antics who dreamed of being rock stars from a young age.

No, not Noel and Liam Gallagher - but two brothers who, to serious video game aficionados at least, are much more rock and roll.

Sam and Dan Houser are the creative driving force behind the hit Grand Theft Auto series - and the men who made gaming cool.

Rockstar games, their company, unveiled a video preview of Grand Theft Auto V this week. The game itself is due next year.

The company 'drip feeds' information to a public eager for ANY information on a franchise worth billions - in an elite club of entertainment icons such as Star Wars, Batman and James Bond.

Shaven-headed Sam, 41, and bearded Dan, 38, are privately worth $160million after helping to sell 114million copies of the 15 GTA titles released since 1997.

[Related: New trailer reveals Grand Theft Auto V]

The Houser brothers, whose spring release of Grand Theft Auto V comes four years after the last title in the series, are anything but working class.

Dan recently made headlines after he and his wife, Krystyna, paid $12.5million for the mansion where Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

It is the most expensive house in Brooklyn, the trendy New York borough where Sam also lives with his wife and two children.

The brothers also made waves when their studio in Broadway hired a spiritual healer to exorcise ‘bad vibes’ after the deaths of two fellow employees.

The brothers grew up in a world of privilege.

Their father, who ran the Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London, paid for them to attend the £6,500-a-term St Paul’s School, one of Britain’s most elitist education establishments.

Sam, who was remembered by novelist Patrick Neate as a “subversive” who would “sit in class being ironic”, also studied with Chancellor George Osborne.

The public schoolboys, whose actress mother Geraldine Moffat starred in Get Carter, both wanted to be musicians when they grew up.

But by the time they had graduated from two of the country’s top universities (Sam at London and Dan at Oxford) they had each settled on video games as their future.

They have a unique dynamic which helps their creativity, according to Ms Moffat, who also appeared in 1970s TV series including The Sweeney and The New Avengers.

"While Sam is very driven, Dan is possibly more relaxed," she once told the Mail on Sunday.

"He is more of an intellectual and writes the scripts for the games whereas Sam is more the ideas man."

Sam once admitted walking the streets of New York to swot up on the murky criminal underworld that has inspired the games.

After heading development at BMG in London, which released the first Grand Theft Auto title in 1997, Sam and his brother moved to New York and founded Rockstar Games a year later.

Success has made them subjects of intense public interest.

Initially, the pair, whose works – including the Max Payne and Manhunt series - have been accused of glamorising crime, welcomed their controversial playboy image.

They used to hold lavish loft parties at their Manhattan offices that became the hottest ticket in town.

They further courted controversy with their outlandish promotion of games.

Grand Theft Auto 2, which was sold with “steal this game” stickers plastered on the boxes, was advertised with a film showing a car thief chewing amphetamine tablets while driving.

The firm also flew journalists business-class to New York and plied them with champagne, limousines, five-star hotels and other expensive freebies.

But as the attention it attracted became increasingly negative, the brothers have tried hard to shun the celebrity spotlight since 2001.

Yet, despite their outlandish reputation, Sam once told the Wall Street Journal: “I'm about the most conservative guy you'll ever meet - I have a panic attack if I get a parking ticket."

Their games, however, tell quite a different story.