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Grand Theft Auto VI and the Evolution of Architecture in the Gaming Industry

Modern video games have evolved magnanimously in terms of graphics and design details. Significant attention is being put into the architecture of these high-tech video games to provide a realistic and immersive experience to the players. Video games are location specific, and it goes without saying that a lot of manpower and architectural input is being put into the ideation of the design background of these games. This, in turn, not only helps with the creation of a more futuristic background but also helps with the overall world building and creation within the game’s universe, with architecture of the surrounding being a key ingredient. 

Architecture in Video Games

Map design and Built Environments in Video Games: Exploring The World of VALORANT | ArchDaily
The World of VALORANT. Courtesy: ArchDaily

Naturally the video game industry have time and again collaborated with architects or architects turned video game designers channel their inputs and expertise in the world building of the games. With characters jumping from one building to another or managing a hiding spot within the structure, keen structural details are require in the formation of the blueprint of it all. 

Architectural exploration has been transformed by the development of virtual reality technology, especially through portable devices like VR headsets. Virtual reality headsets that support 3D model software enable users to fully immerse themselves in architectural models within video games. The future of architecture in video game worlds is full with intriguing possibilities as this virtual technology develops. Video game architecture is not constrained by natural laws, budgetary restraints, or structural limitations in this imagined future. The ability to design imaginative and erratic structures allows developers to provide an open environment with previously unheard-of levels of player freedom.¹

From Backdrop to Spotlight: The Significance of Architecture in Video Game Design | ArchDaily
Architecture in Video Game Design. Courtesy: ArchDaily

Because of technological limitations, modern open-world games frequently mimic real-world cities, yet wholly fictional realms are what the future holds. Architectural experiences could be redefined by the possibility of variable-form buildings, structures defying gravity, temperature control, and infinite resources. Significantly, these infinite virtual game worlds are antecedents of a genuine architecture revolution in which technological breakthroughs materialize virtual designs.¹

Grand Theft Auto VI: A Fresh Step for Architectural Design in Video Games

Grand Theft Auto VI - Watch Trailer 1 Now - Rockstar Games
Grand Theft Auto VI. Courtesy: Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto is all the buzz in the video game industry presently, following the leak of a 50 minute game footage in September of 2022, in what is now termed as the “biggest leaks in the history of video game industry” and a “PR Nightmare for Rockstar Games”. Following another leaked trailer, Rockstar Games finally released the first official trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI. One of the defining factors of the GTA series is that the games are based on fictional depictions of real cities. This gains a connection with the audience — seeing real life settings as the backing theme of the game — and provides a distinct childlike fascination showcasing the modern graphics and the growth of it all. GTA VI is based out of the fictional city of Leonida — real life Florida – and includes Vice City from the 2002 version of the game based on Miami. Other versions of the games include fictionalized versions of famous cities such as San Francisco ( San Fierro), Las Vegas (Las Venturas), Los Angeles (Los Santos), and New York City (Liberty City). 

Gta vi vs Real life : r/GTA6
GTA VI vs Real Life. Courtesy: Reddit

The new trailer of GTA VI follows a couple inspired from Bonny and Clyde and posses contemporary references to influencers on social media and the “Florida Man” meme. The highlighting feature to the fans stands to be the inclusion of vice city. The 2002 version was based on 1980s Miami, GTA’s portrayal of 80s Miami in Vice City emphasizes cultural nostalgia through music and fashion. Unlike later games in the series, it doesn’t explicitly replicate real-world architecture, relying on abstraction. Released in 2002, set 15 years earlier, the game captures Miami’s enduring cultural relics, portraying neon-lit art deco and postmodern high-rises. 

Real life vs GTA 6. Shot this today : r/GTA
GTA VI vs Real Life. Courtesy: Reddit

In the 2025 version, the game portrays a modern-day depiction of Miami. The structures of the game are almost an exact replica, and the masterworks of graphics make the overall look life-like. The map of GTS VI is massive, and includes structures that were previously from the 2002 version, we are of course talking about the Florida Keys, which was reportedly to be referred to as Gator Keys in the 2002 version. Moreover, the trailer features is the Miami Ocean drive, and very similarly captures the feel and architecture of the city.

GTA Vice City vs GTA VI. Courtesy: BlaZe 92 on YouTube

The trailer of GTA VI includes depiction of places such as the Loews and Royal Palm Hotels, 1500 Ocean Drive, Breakwater Hotel, Hotel Victor, The Clevelander Hotel, Venetian and MacArthur causeways, Kaseya Center, Marquis Residences, Brickell, Wynwood and the Seven Miles Bridge Florida Keys. The map of the game is still unannounced, filled only fan speculations following the leaks, however the overall game design and graphics in architecture of the game is being widely talked about with the trailer 163 million streams on YouTube as we speak. 

Florida keys in real life vs GTA 6 : r/GTA6
Florida keys in real life vs GTA 6 . Courtesy: Reddit

It is therefore, unquestionable, that architecture — thanks to open world video games like GTA — is seeing new realms of development through the gaming industry. These open world video games not only  provide players with the opportunity to explore and interact with virtual cities but also showcase stunning architecture in ways that were previously unimaginable. As technology continues to advance, it is exciting to think about the potential for even more immersive and realistic architectural experiences in future games. 

References:

  1. Surface.syr.edu- Architecture in Open World Video Games by Congshuo Zhang
  2. Architizer- Architecture in Video Games: The Satirical Urban Commentaries of Grand Theft Auto
  3. Sportskeeda- GTA Vice City map vs GTA 6 map: Everything known so far from leaks and trailer
  4. AXIOS Miami- Every Miami landmark in Grand Theft Auto VI
  5. TGG on YouTube- The GTA 6 Map Analysis
  6. BlaZe 92 on YouTube– GTA Vice City vs GTA VI Location Comparison

Read More:

India In Western Video Games: Either a Mysterious Land or a Trashy Slum.

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