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Rockstar founder announces new narrative studio

Absurd Ventures to ‘create new universes and tell great stories,’ Dan Houser says

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Dan Houser’s latest venture has been revealed. The Rockstar Games co-founder and co-creator of Grand Theft Auto announced that Absurd Ventures “will create new IP across all platforms and for all formats.”

Houser, who left Rockstar in 2020, first chartered a company called “Absurd Ventures in Games” in mid-2021. Thursday’s statement is Houser’s first formal statement that he’s behind a new studio.

“We are building Absurd Ventures to create new universes and to tell great stories, wherever and however we can,” Houser said in a news release. The statement said that Absurd Ventures seeks to build narrative worlds and characters “for a diverse variety of genres, without regard to medium, to be produced for live-action and animation; video games and other interactive content; books, graphic novels, and scripted podcasts.”

Absurd Ventures was formally announced with a two-minute video that embraces the absurdity of the company’s name. Composed of what appears to be stock and original footage (one scene shows a group of zombies dancing; another shows a guy vacuuming a forest clearing), the video asks “Is it OK to dream again, or will you just try to sell me something? Is it OK to ask questions, or will you just take me outside and shoot me? Is it all my fault that things went so very strange?” The video ends with what appears to be the studio’s tagline: “Storytelling. Philanthropy. Ultraviolence.”

Houser, 49, started Rockstar Games with his brother, Sam, in 1998. The studio/publisher is best known for the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption series, as well as the Max Payne franchise and cutting-edge titles like Bully, Manhunt, and L.A. Noire.

He was the lead writer of Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, two of the biggest launches, by sales, of the previous decade. He was also a producer and writer on Bully (2006) and Max Payne 3 (2012).

Rockstar announced in February 2020 that Dan Houser would be leaving the company, following an extended break that came after Red Dead Redemption 2’s fall 2018 launch.

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