The Grand Theft Auto series has come under fire for its glamorization of all manner of illegal activities. How ironic, then, that the developers the original GTA are now being accused of a committing a crime at the game's very inception.
In a Scottish court yesterday, computer consultant Mark Gallagher filed a lawsuit against Rockstar North, the Edinburgh-based GTA developer. Gallagher claims that in December 1993, he applied for a position at DMA Design, the company that would eventually go on to become Rockstar North. When called in for an interview, Gallagher brought with him a demo of Crime, Inc., a game he developed from 1991 to 1993 about gangs vying for control of a city's street crime. Gallagher claims DMA retained the disc, but did not give him the job. Four years later in 1997, DMA released the first Grand Theft Auto which, Gallagher alleges, contains many elements and ideas from Crime, Inc. He now wants 1.5 million pounds from Rockstar for "copyright infringement."
"I object to the idea that the GTA team ripped someone off," Brian Baglow told GameSpot. Baglow, who worked at DMA for nearly all of the four years that the first GTA was in development, categorically denied Gallagher's charges. "We worked damn hard on that game for a long time and finally created something I think we are all proud of," he emphasized. Baglow also questioned the timing of the suit. "I find it difficult to imagine someone making this kind of claim six years after the game was released," he said. "Surely if you heard about a game that as similar to a concept you submitted, you would try to do something about it before you got to the fourth game in the series. GTA has not been an inconspicuous game since its initial launch."
Baglow also gave GameSpot some insights into the creation of the title that would launch the bestselling franchise in game history. Most notably, he said Grand Theft Auto was almost about a cop trying to stop the carjackings, robberies, murders, and other acts of mayhem players now regularly perpetrate in the game. "Deciding to play as the criminal came at the end of a very long, protracted and heated design meeting," said Baglow, who now runs his own PR firm, Indoctrimat, in Scotland. "Thankfully, it worked."