Is it me, or does the GTA6 trailer suggest the game is leaning hard into photography?

GTA6 trailer stills
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

If you've not seen the trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6 yet, well done! Over 100 million people did, setting a new record at YouTube. What really struck me, though, was how heavily influenced this next generation of the gaming franchise looks to be affected by content creation.

This probably shouldn't come as a huge surprise. At its heart the series has always been about satirising pop culture and the primary medium of culture creation is the lens – whether that's a TV camera or a phone camera feeding the infinite scrolling feeds of social media.

Look at the trailer carefully, though, and you'll see that's just the start of it. In the 90 seconds of carefully edited game footage, there is a lot which suggests that photography & videography, in the broadest sense, have had a massive influence on the game's style.

I have to assume that most of what we're seeing comes from cut scenes that develop the game's story, or at least the mission stories (the game will no doubt offer alternative routes to completion), but I'd be willing to bet that – just as we had to work as a pap in GTA5 – we'll need to capture something for the mock social media platforms.

On my viewing of the trailer, I saw something looking like Instagram, something like TikTok, and something like a YouTube-esque platform (horizontal format being the clue).

Other missions seem to depend on indoor security cameras, and even (judging by the overlay) something purporting to be a police bodycam. The best body cameras are another aspect of daily life for many police and security officers which have emerged since the previous edition of the game, now more than a decade old.

It's fascinating to see the game developers Rockstar playing with aspect ratios in their trailer because it reveals just how much the shape of an image now tells us, as viewers, about its meaning. Admittedly the emoticons and type on top help too; again, though, it is interesting to reflect how embedded these are in our lives since the GTA5 release in 2013 (in real life the year of the Boston Marathon bombing, Alex Ferguson's retirement and the arrival of the Sony A7). 

It looks like other franchise classics are remaining too, like Weazle News, which is bringing us simulated TV news as well as the in-car radio as the game setting returns to the fictionalised Miami-like "Vice City," with the game's first female protagonist. 

If nothing else, the detailed research into media platforms for the purpose of sending them – and their styles – up will offer a potential education to content creators; what GTA is mocking is probably tired and hackneyed so, if you're still doing it, it's time to move on!

"Body Cam" in the GTA 6 trailer – something to note is the effort gone to in simulating the fish-eye distortion and dubious contrast you might expect from a body-worn camera.  (Image credit: Rockstar Games)

If you've managed not to play GTA5 there is still plenty of time to enjoy it, and Rockstar have cleverly updated all the graphics for the latest platforms which keeps it surprisingly fresh (I played through as far as a paparazzi level a couple of weeks back).

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 

Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 

He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook