GTA veterans join Rockstar Games founder Dan Houser at new studio

Absurd Ventures is adding several notable recruits to its leadership team.
Absurd Ventures

As Rockstar Games prepares to reveal GTA 6, one of the studio’s co-founders has bolstered his new venture with the senior talent that turned Grand Theft Auto into the behemoth it is today.

In mid-2023, Dan Houser – co-founder of Rockstar Games and a writer and executive producer for virtually all of the studio’s games, all the way up to Red Dead Redemption 2 – left the company and formally announced his new studio, Absurd Ventures. His brother Sam Houser remains president of Rockstar Games.

Now, another longtime Rockstar Games veteran has left Rockstar to join Absurd.

As spotted by French publication BeGeek, the former Vice President of Writing at Rockstar Games Michael Unsworth joined Absurd Ventures in October 2023. He is credited as a writer on both Red Dead Redemption games, as a dialogue writer in games like Max Payne 3 and L.A. Noire, and is one of the people responsible for writing the in-game internet in Grand Theft Auto 4 and its expansions.

BeGeek also points out that Lazlow Jones – best known as the radio personality in several Grand Theft Auto games, and also responsible for audio production on Red Dead Redemption 2, joined Absurd in 2021 as an executive producer, co-founding the company with Houser.

RockstarIntel notes that Adam Tedman, who was previously Vice President of New Media at Rockstar, has also joined Absurd in mid-2023 as Head of Marketing, after a brief stint at Saber Interactive.

Additionally, Greg Borrud, a co-founder of Pandemic Studios (Mercenaries) and most recently a General Manager and Vice President at Niantic (Pokemon GO) joined Absurd in early 2023 as Head of Games.

Variety reported in November that Absurd had recruited Wendy Smith as Chief Operating Officer – a long-time communications expert with roles at the Creative Artists Agency, Ralph Lauren, and The White House as special assistant to US President Bill Clinton.

Smith told Variety that Absurd Ventures plans to work on a variety of projects, including graphic novels, podcasts, and television series, while also working on larger game projects. “Introducing new IP into the world is hard,” she said. “Games take a long time to produce and are very expensive… we mitigate that risk through smaller outputs on projects”

Smith says that the company’s intention is to introduce characters and stories through a variety of mediums in order to gradually build a new audience and acclimatise them to Absurd’s new properties.

In announcing the company, Absurd released a cryptic trailer that closed with the tagline, “Storytelling. Philanthropy. Ultraviolence.”

Smith told Variety that Absurd will have “more announcements in the weeks ahead”.

The Absurd Ventures website provides some interesting, if obscure hints as to the themes of its projects.

Edmond was the founding managing editor of GamesHub. He was also previously at GameSpot for 13 years, where he was the Australian Editor and an award-winning video producer. You can follow him @EdmondTran