With Grand Theft Auto 6’s Lucia being the series’ first proper leading lady, I’m hoping she doesn’t become another caricature or stereotype

Last week Rockstar sent gamers absolutely feral when it dropped the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6, albeit a little earlier than planned. It was 90 seconds chock-full of prime GTA vibes—we were given a great look at a modern-day Vice City, a whole host of real Florida Man behaviour, and a first peep of Lucia, one of potentially two protagonists we’ll be able to play as, and sort of the first playable woman in the series’ 25-year history.

I say sort of because, if we want to get real nitpicky about it, Lucia isn’t technically GTA’s first female protagonist. That crown goes to Katie, Mikki, Ulrika, and Divine from the original Grand Theft Auto. Granted, all eight of the game’s avatars speak the same male-gendered text dialogue, and in the first GTA’s top-down perspective, they all look near-identical in their garish yellow shirts.

There’s also the multiplayer mode in the older console versions of San Andreas where the second player can play as… a sex worker. Then, of course, there’s GTA Online’s nameless mute protagonist, if you choose to make them a woman.

But in the debut trailer, Rockstar strongly signalled that Lucia is the studio’s first fleshed out, fully realised female protagonist to cause chaos among its caricatured Americana. She takes precedence over potential co-protagonist Jason in the trailer—she’s the one to kick open the convenience store doors at the end of the trailer, the one who takes charge walking through the aisles and the one holding the money in the car as Jason acts as the getaway driver. While the game is looking to be a Bonnie & Clyde situation with the two, the trailer makes it feel like it’s very much Lucia’s story.

That debt of female-focused storytelling Rockstar accumulated over decades makes Lucia’s journey all the more important.

I was admittedly a little worried that it wouldn’t go down too well, but it seems like Lucia’s design and attitude is already proving a hit with fans. I’m inclined to agree with them—the trailer makes her feel more grounded compared to the previous game’s Trevor, while still being less green and naive than Franklin was.

Part of the fun with Grand Theft Auto is seeing how the protagonists slowly unravel as the narrative unfolds, and I’m sure it’ll be no different with Lucia. But I can’t help feeling a little nervous about just how Rockstar will do her justice. Women have traditionally existed in Grand Theft Auto to nag (like Amanda De Santa) or to provide pleasure through the game’s various sex workers, with the occasional equally bloodthirsty criminal (Catalina) who inevitably suffers a terrible end. The women are shallow, “crazy,” shrew, and, more often than not, secondary.

(Image credit: Rockstar)

It’s long been an unfortunate side effect of Rockstar hamming up stereotypes regardless of age, gender, or race. Women aren’t the only ones to suffer at the hands of the developer’s satirisation, but they’re certainly one of the only groups that still lack many meaningful, well-written characters within that game’s universe.

That debt of female-focused storytelling Rockstar accumulated over decades makes Lucia’s journey all the more important. How will Grand Theft Auto express what it means to be a woman in its world? I want Rockstar to take Lucia seriously as a protagonist while keeping in tune with that classic Grand Theft Auto tomfoolery. Think a little bit of the grittiness that comes with Niko Bellic’s experience as an immigrant chasing the American dream coupled with Tommy Vercetti’s wild yet endlessly entertaining characterisation of a Scorsese gangster.

It’s Rockstar’s prime chance to prove not only to its female fans, but to the naysayers of such an inclusion, that it’s capable of writing women in a way that is meaningful, believable, and doesn’t reduce them to harmful stereotypes. As someone who’s been playing and enjoying Grand Theft Auto games since I was far too young to be doing either of those things, I’m totally ready for the series to stop being such a boys’ club. Women are just as cruel, clever, violent, petty, power-hungry, remorseful, randy, tactical, and flawed as anyone else. Let that run free in an open-world city rampant with crime.

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