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Rockstar went to the streets for its gangster dialogue in ‘Grand Theft Auto V’

Whether you love or hate Rockstar and the Grand Theft Auto series, you can’t deny that the developer goes all out for its games.

In an interview with radio station WGN (and recounted by videogamer.com), Lucien “Lazlow” Jones, longtime GTA in-game radio show host, talked about the lengths Rockstar is willing to go to add a touch of authenticity to Grand Theft Auto V. In order to breathe a bit of life into the incidental gang bangers you’ll run into during the upcoming game, Rockstar decided to bring in real gang members to voice their digital counterparts.

“There’s black gangs, there’s Latino gangs, and we recruited a guy who gets gang members, like actual gang members, real gang members,” Jones said. “I mean, El Salvadorian gang dudes with amazing tattoos and one of which literally had gotten out of prison the day before. And we brought these guys in to record the gang characters because, you know, you don’t want a goofy L.A. actor who went to a fancy school trying to be a hard gang member. There’s nothing worse than that.”

Jones, a radio talk show host in his own right, began his association with Rockstar and the GTA series with 2001’s Grand Theft Auto III. In the game, he appeared as a version of himself hosting the Chatterbox FM radio station, which featured some memorable audio segments that he co-scripted with GTA’s writer Dan Houser. In each subsequent game, Jones has appeared in a slightly different and ever expanding role.

In the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V, Jones will return to the in-game radio, but he has also taken on certain producer duties involving recording some of the dialogue. That includes working with real-life gang members to make sure the dialogue feels true.

“When we record all these ambient characters that are in the world, we go towards authenticity,” Jones said. “So in the game, part of the element of the story is that there’s rival gangs.”

Although Jones’ official title and role with Grand Theft Auto V hasn’t been announced, he has been one of the staples of the modern GTA series even as each new iteration shifts locations, characters, and even time periods. Jones has also worked as a radio producer in his career, so it’s not surprising that his role behind the scenes has increased as well. 

“And they look at the lines and they say, ‘I wouldn’t say that. If I was upset at another gang, I wouldn’t say that’. So (I would tell them) …, ‘Say what you would say. Authenticity, you know?’

“There’s a lot of sessions that we would have where we would just throw the script on the floor and be like, this thing we wrote is irrelevant, let’s just work out something real.”

You’ll be able to hear how it all works out when Grand Theft Auto V is released on PS3 and Xbox 360 on September 17.