Teen Boys Burst Rockstar’s Cheeky BAWSAQ with $1 Billion Gaming Frenzy

BAWSAQ in Grand Theft Auto 5Apart from a short flirtation with a Nintendo handset in the early 1990s, I can’t claim to be a gamer.

Probably just as well. With my anorak tendencies and borderline OCD (I like to call it determination and bloody mindedness) there’s every chance I’d become obsessed.

From there it would be a rapid descent and before long I’d be a chubby, straggly-haired, pop-eyed, socially inept and basement-dwelling cliche (the kind that all gamers were tainted with, before geekery somehow became trendy). Not a good look.

All in all I’ve always been a bit sniffy about ‘video games’. At times I’ve thought the notion of ‘professional gamers’ is an insult to the evolutionary splendour of the opposable thumb. To think, millions of years of in the making and  the pinnacle of natural selection has been achieved to let mumbling teens make a screen flash faster and call it Halo 4. Tchoh.

Still, while I might not know a Skyrim from a Call of Duty, every now and then indifference has to be set aside when something from a specific niche transcends its sphere and becomes truly mainstream. When everybody on the planet, it seems, suddenly becomes familiar with a concept they’d normally have no business bumping up against.

A couple of weeks ago it was Twerking. Right now it’s Grand Theft Auto Five.

What  I know about  the GTA franchise is negligible, beyond the fact that it was a hugely profitable, unbelievably well-marketed success story, made by Rockstar games – right here in Scotland.

Also that it is vaguely controversial among the Daily Mail classes.  For instance, I heard one wag proclaim: “It’s not exactly family friendly is it? How do I lock my kids out of the living room and explain to them that daddy doesn’t want bothered while he’s busy running down prostitutes?’. Charming.

So, my assumptions were these: Super successful game; popular with spotty boys; involves stealing cars and driving over other people in them.

Today I still don’t really know a great deal more about GTA 5 than that. However, I had a right good chuckle at a news story explaining how the developers transplanted Scottish Borders town Hawick to the fictional California setting of the game.

Even funnier was the revelation that they’d even managed to squeeze in a reference to the hugely delayed and horribly bloated Edinburgh trams debacle. There’s something wryly amusing about fans the world over immersing themselves completely in this expansive and sprawling gaming experience – only to be covertly bombarded with messages about the stuff that gets Angry of Morningside writing letters to The Scotsman.

So, in an effort to learn more I ventured onto YouTube to watch the ‘Official Gameplay Video’. To give you a clue to the popularity of this thing it’s had more than 27 million views. What can I say? It’s breathtaking. Astonishing. It actually makes me think about going out, buying a console and finally finding out what this gaming thing is all about.

Ultimately the whole GTA franchise has to be respected for the simple fact that it earned more than $1 billion dollars within three days. Ye whit? When was the last time any Scottish-based business produced those sorts of numbers?

Those are the kind of figures to really get the attention of Wall Street  – which brings me to the point which gets the biggest respect for the team at Rockstar games. Their fictional gaming world includes a stock market which the characters play and invest in, which owes more than a passing nod to the American stock market, the NASDAQ.

Except, with typical Scottish humour the Rockstar team have given it a much cheekier name – meaning that panting, hormonal, teenage boys the world over are currently going mad for the chance to play the BAWSAQ.

Genius.

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