Grand Theft Auto's next game will feature the series' first ever playable main character, according to a new report.
Sources close to the matter told Bloomberg that the franchise's developer Rockstar Games is set to clean up its act and ensure it's a more inclusive experience.
And as part of the move, they said a playable female protagonist is set to make a historic appearance in Grand Theft Auto VI.
The report states: "The woman is Latina and will be one of a pair of leading characters in a story influenced by the bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde.
"Developers are also being cautious not to 'punch down' by making jokes about marginalized groups, the people said, in contrast with previous Grand Theft Auto games."
While there's no official release date as of yet, the sixth edition has taken years to develop, with industry analysts predicting it could be more than two years away.
Fans appeared to be sceptical about the lengthy and ambiguous wait, with one writing on Twitter: "No way Rockstar is releasing any game on time. That's getting delayed for at least a year. Maybe 2025."
Another said: "GTA 5 was revealed 2 years before it came out, and you're telling me GTA 6 could potentially come out next year? Absolutely no chance. The games probably three years away minimum."
On the suggestion that the game could drop between April 2023 and March 2024, a third commenter quipped: "So likely release date to be 2026."
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Rockstar had appeared to have started editing out transphobic content in its re-release of Grand Theft Auto V, which dropped in March.
Not only have transphobic caricatures been disabled, but harmful dialogue options have also been removed from the game.
On 18 April, OutMakingGames – a UK-based collective of LGBTQIA+ game industry professionals – confirmed on Twitter that Rockstar had taken action.
The collective tweeted at the time: "Last year we wrote an open letter to @Rockstar, calling on them to remove transphobic content from GTA 5’s next gen release.
"We’re thrilled to say that they have. Thank you to everyone at Rockstar who prioritised this issue."
The changes were first noticed by Reddit user JayProspero, who pointed out that its Captain Spaceboy action figure – found on the wall in an in-game arcade – no longer had the words ‘interchangeable genitalia’ written on its box.
In 2013’s original GTA V, the action figure was clad in a bright pink outfit, but now wears more muted get-up.
In new-gen GTAV/GTAO, Rockstar appear to have disabled the trans caricatures or “drag queens” from spawning outside Cockatoos. This could be following a plea from OutMakingGames last year. I hope this provides comfort to anyone who felt these NPCs depicted harmful stereotypes 🏳️⚧️— Kirsty 🐱 (@kirstycloud) April 8, 2022
Elsewhere, a Twitter thread from Kirsty Cloud – an administrator for a Grand Theft Auto community site – highlighted the fact that ‘drag queens’ no longer spawned outside Cockatoos, an in-game nightclub.
She added: "The models still exist in Director Mode at the moment, but their dialogue options have been removed (presumably this means protagonist dialogue lines to these NPCs about using hormones etc are therefore unused now too)."
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