Sam Houser (born 1971) is an English video game producer and developer. He is the co-founder and president of Rockstar Games and one of the creative driving forces behind the games in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, being producer since the third game. He is responsible for taking GTA into the 3D-environment era, creating realistic cities under fully 3D-engines and turning the series into huge profits during video gaming's sixth-generation era.
Early life and education
Houser and his brother Dan were born in London and are the sons of solicitor Walter Houser and actress Geraldine Moffat. Sam drew inspiration from crime films at an early age because his mother was an actor in the respected film genre. As a child, The Getaway was Sam's main source of inspiration to become an aspiring "bank robber". Arcade games like Elite and Mr. Do! were Sam's favourite games growing up. Elite was a "space mugger" game according to Sam, allowing him to explore his "bad boy" side at an early age. The Houser brothers both attended St Paul's School, London, before going to London and Cambridge universities. Hip-hop was an essential getaway from school and his father's music for Sam. Def Jam Recordings and East Coast rappers were iconic influences in Sam's party and fashion life, inspiring him to throw exclusive and extravagant parties.
He became an American citizen in 2007.
Sam became a video producer for BMG Entertainment after he and his father had lunch with the executive producer of the music label, who claimed that Houser had some good ideas. After BMG partnered with a small CD ROM company, Sam transferred to the Interactive Publishing division of BMG in order to work closely with developing video games.
Credited as executive producer, Houser is also the creator of several of the games in the Grand Theft Auto series with his brother Dan. On Grand Theft Auto III his responsibilities were, in his words, to be "militant on ensuring the game had a look, a sound, a story and a feel that worked." His description of the series as a whole is that the three sixth-generation Grand Theft Auto games form a "trilogy, [featuring] our distorted look at the East Coast around the time of the millennium (Grand Theft Auto III), followed by our reinterpretation of '80s Miami (Vice City), and lastly, our look at early-'90s California (San Andreas)."
Despite their status as creators of Grand Theft Auto, one of the most successful video game franchises of all-time, Houser and his brother Dan have shied away from the media spotlight, focusing instead on the Rockstar Games brand, rather than any one person getting the credit for the games' success. In 2009, both Sam and Dan Houser appeared in Time Magazine's 100 most influential people of 2009 list. Houser also produced Max Payne 3 and Grand Theft Auto V.
Rockstar Games and Sam and his agent, Max Clifford, being at the forefront have suffered exploitation from media tabloids since the company took off. When the first Grand Theft Auto game was released, the BBFC threatened to refuse classification with headlines in the Daily Mail reading "criminal computer game that glorifies hit-and-run thugs." The BBFC made a statement about the games "new form of violence... they involve the player in potentially criminal behaviour and the infliction of violence on innocent parties." The game wasn't banned, and on November 28 1997, GTA cult fans were able to experience the first game of the series.
- Body Harvest (1998)
- Space Station Silicon Valley (1998)
- Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969 (1999)
- Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999)
- Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005)
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006)
- Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
- Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned (2009)
- Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009)
- Grand Theft Auto V (2013)