It's 2023 and we've finally got a female protagonist for GTA 6. It's a long overdue first for the series. Of course, many have cried out that there were four female character options in the original GTA, but let's admit that we've come a long way since Grand Theft Auto was simply about top-down joyriding. This is one of the biggest and most profitable video game series in the world, we shouldn't have had to wait until 2023 to play as a woman, but at least it looks like GTA 6 is doing it right.
GTA 6 is miles away from the first GTA game where the female characters were little more than palette swaps, so this is groundbreaking new territory for the series. 2013 saw GTA 5 launch with a trio of male playable characters, prompting numerous discussions as to why not one of them was a woman. At the time, in an interview with The Guardian, former Rockstar Games' co-founder and vice president of creativity Dan Houser (who actually left Rockstar in 2020) said the reason was that "the concept of being masculine was so key to [GTA 5's] story". I don't 100% believe that, but if we take that framing at face value it makes the presentation of GTA 6 even more interesting.
When the GTA 6 trailer 1 dropped on Monday, about 15 or so hours ahead of schedule thanks to some leak shenanigans, it focused not only on the world of Vice City, but also on the woman at the center of the story – Lucia. She's the driving force throughout, with the trailer opening with her in a prison jumpsuit, spouting similar patter spoken by Michael and Nico before her in the first GTA 5 and GTA 4 trailers respectively. She's the one who's striding into the shop bandana'd up at the end, and literally in the driving seat post-robbery as she and an unnamed man drive away from the scene.
A game of two
This Latina woman is at the center of the GTA 6 story right now and, by introducing her first, Rockstar is giving her time in the spotlight. If the leaks that happened in September last year are anything to go by (and by how much this trailer matches up, we'd say it is) Lucia's unnamed male friend is the other protagonist who will form the core narrative. The fact he's featured so heavily in the trailer and key art you can see below seems to support that too. According to the leaks, he's allegedly called Jason and GTA 6 will also feature the character-switching mechanic made famous by GTA 5.
But Rockstar's made a decision not to name him now, to instead lead with Lucia. It's a clear and provocative statement about the importance of this character from the developer. Of course, it's been met with a certain amount of backlash – as we've seen from any games with female protagonists or diverse character creation – with some accusing the game of being too "woke". Thankfully, those negative voices are increasingly being overshadowed by those who welcome Lucia's addition to the series.
For many, having a couple at the center of the story is the true lure, myself included, with ties already being drawn between the duo and Bonnie and Clyde as loved-up, but probably ultimately ill-fated criminals. Introducing such a dynamic has the potential to make these characters more relatable and more sympathetic heroes, despite the depths of the criminality the duo will no doubt entertain at our hands.
I'm also intrigued by her motivations. Theories born from the trailer's teaser image read (probably too much) into the trio of birds and palms in the background, suggesting Lucia and Jason are parents. I can't imagine that Rockstar would let Lucia be pregnant during the story (perhaps aside from flashbacks) due to the sheer amount of violence possible, but all these early signs are pointing to the game exploring the more human sides of these characters away from the chaos of being a criminal.
If the masculine element was so important to the GTA 5 narrative, that should mean Lucia's femininity is key to GTA 6. I'm hoping that means Lucia's character is explored from all angles, with equal focus on her life as a criminal and her position as a woman in the modern world. I guess I'll have to wait until 2025 to find out.