Sweating The Small Stuff: Why GTA V Is One Of The Most Thoughtful Creative Endeavors Ever

There are many ways that Grand Theft Auto V represents a gaming milestone. For hardcore players, like Paul here, who spent his vacation at the console, it’s the little things that set the game apart and make it a lesson in what can happen when zero creative corners are cut.

For several days after coming home from work on September 17th, I did two things: ordered a lot on Seamless and played Grand Theft Auto V.


I decided to take my only vacation this year to do something I’ve always loved–getting lost in a world created by people who care about details as much as I do. To me the details are what separate great experiences from unforgettable ones.

GTA V is massive. It is a giant playground with a virtually infinite number of activities all wrapped around a world-class narrative. It features three protagonists that you can switch between at any time, and a story set in a reimagined Los Angeles. It has raised the bar for every video game (and entertainment property for that matter) moving forward.

There are dozens of reason to love GTA but one of my fascinations with the franchise is the effort and attention paid to the little things–the extra added good stuff that others might have dismissed as not worth the time. They add layers to the experience and build the identity of the game world, but may only be seen by a small few.

I love this. How considerate. Granted, the game had a blank check to do all of this, but I guess that’s the point. What would you create if you didn’t have to worry about budgets or deadlines?

GTA V might be the closest answer we have to that question today.

Here are a few morsels of amazing that I have experienced so far:


I received an alert on my real-world phone saying: “Chop has taken a dump; go clean it up.” In the game, you get a Rottweiler called Chop. There is a companion iFruit (the game’s own smartphone brand) app that lets you take care of him Tamagotchi-style. Feed him, throw the ball around, take him to the park, teach him tricks, and yes, clean up after him.

I bought $20k of stock in Tinkle (TNK), a telecommunications company listed on the BAWSAQ stock exchange. I’m not usually the investor type, but I got a tip from a guy I picked up off the side of the road who seemed credible.

I checked out some outdoor signage at the airport including this ad for the iFruit 9iX. GTA does not feature real brands–instead it has created a whole world of its own brands that are used to add a thick layer of satire.

I received a 10% discount at Warstock Cache and Carry for “Stalking” them on LifeInvader, the game’s social network. As with current social networks, GTA’s bevy of fake brands have taken over. There is no shortage of ridiculous posts from Sprunk, InkInc., and Redwood Cigarettes.

I am the proprietor of “Smoke on the Water,” a medical marijuana evaluation center. It is one of the many properties in the game you can invest in. The first time I went there, Gin and Juice was playing over the store speakers.

In less than a week, I’ve amassed a ton of these little experiences. Each and every one a carefully crafted diamond that I pulled from the sand. On their own, they may appear as unassuming boosts to gameplay. Together, they are the parts that create a sum greater than pure genius.


Paul Potenzone is a gaming and marketing geek. He is also executive director of content and social strategy at kbs+.