Community talk:Eras

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Comments from User:ZS

First off, thanks for providing a platform to voice my concerns. Got plenty of things to explain with regards to the argument for using "Era".

The eras are a logical grouping that is obvious to anyone who has played or seen multiple GTA games. Everyone can see that GTA San Andreas is very similar to GTA Vice City and GTA III, but very different from GTA 2 or GTA IV.

To clear matters, the grouping of the games itself is somewhat justified. Each of these successions of games are distinctive not only by canon but also by their game engines. So even though GTA 1's storyline isn't necessarily related to those the GTA London series for example, both games share the same technical construction to be tied together (GTA V is likely to be an exception to this rule though; see last point).

The problem lies more in the naming itself, as well as the need to use it as a be-all and end-all term when discussing anything.

"Era" is supposed to commonly refer to a very long period of time usually measured in decades, centuries, millenia, or even longer; in comparison, most of these successions of games last anything from only a year to seven years. Wouldn't its use make us look pretentious by placing too much importance on something that Rockstar North didn't even need to give names to?

Compromises were considered to substitute "Era" for another fan term. "Generations" was considered (GTA 1 and GTA London would be classified as "first generation games" while GTA IV and GTA Chinatown Wars are "fourth generation games"), but I wasn't sure if it's acceptable, seeing how it's no different from using "Era". "Canon" is also a viable candidate, although it turned out the terminology works best only when discussing fictional elements in a storyline; nevertheless, there are prospects on using that term instead (I can explain a little more on that if you want).

Using eras gives the wiki a simple way to refer to these groups of games. For example, when mentioning features, vehicles or characters that appeared in one era but not another. The usefulness of eras can be seen at Special:Whatlinkshere/GTA III Era, which shows hundreds of links to the GTA III Era page.


If we used 'from-to' terminology (like "From GTA III to GTA San Andreas"), that requires people to know the order of every GTA game to understand. Does III-SA include GTA Liberty City Stories and GTA Advance or not? That is not obvious, and would require the user to check every time or potentially misunderstand things. This becomes more complicated when considering whether the games are grouped by release date or by canonical order. Using Eras is much more intuitive.

One notable example is Wanted Level, which shows the very different systems between eras. Without Eras, we would have to use Wanted Level from GTA III to GTA Vice City Stories (with the above problems) or invent false names like Wanted Level System A.


So whilst Eras aren't official terminology, it is the simplest and best way of explaining a very real grouping of GTA games, it's well-understood, accepted by many users and sources, and is already used widely on this wiki (so nothing would have to be changed).

This boils back to the constant need to simplify, resulting in the unwarranted aversion towards using article names that utilize brackets for disambiguation, for example.

Take Wanted Level in GTA III Era; an alternative could be to use "Wanted Level (GTA III - GTA Vice City Stories)", with redirects created for respectable games that lead to that article (Wanted Level in GTA III, Wanted Level in GTA Vice City..., Wanted Level in GTA Vice City Stories), something that would be straight to the point to your average reader. So a reader wouldn't want to type "Wanted Level (GTA III - GTA Vice City Stories)", but does that matter when they could search using a redirect's name?

Yes, we'll need to overhaul a shitton of articles, but that's the price we have to pay for being so rigid with how we named and wrote articles. I have ideas on how to go about it, even with the GTA 1 Era, GTA 2 Era, GTA III Era and GTA IV Era articles.

Without eras, every page would need to have a huge awkward list of every game that it refers to, instead of simply "XYZ appears in the GTA III Era".

"XYZ appears in the GTA III Era" actually confuses a reader even more than just mentioning the games flat out. How would a new reader know what "GTA III Era" means anyway? In terms of the writing in the article itself, it doesn't hurt to type a little extra. After all, we have Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, right?

Whilst Rockstar doesn't publicly use Era terminology, the groupings themselves are officially accepted by virtue of new numbers only being given to certain games.

Which is ironic because I originally introduced "Era" to the fandom through Wikipedia's GTA article and navigation box six years ago. But I didn't know better back then; everyone was doing that sort of thing with their articles and navboxes, but it turned out it doesn't work for every series. By the time I realized it, everyone in the fandom, including the original Wikia crowd, were using it casually.

I'm also unsure if this the "new numbers" argument holds water in light of what GTA V has to offer. It runs on the same game engine as GTA IV, plus a few vehicles are directly ripped out of GTA IV. If we have to discuss a vehicle that appears in GTA IV and GTA V, would that mean we have to create separate sections based on this argument, even if its design is nigh-identical?

- ZS (talk) 09:58, 3 November 2011 (GMT)

Thanks for your reply. I have a few responses to the points you've raised above.
  • Firstly, I'm glad you agree on the value of grouping the games. I'm not sure that it's quite an obsession like you portray, but instead a useful shortcut for organising this wiki. My main concern was that if we treat the series as 15 individual games (and counting), we're going to end up with huge lists everywhere and an unwieldy confusing mess. I think we can still be equally accurate using simpler and more
  • You say that "From X to Y" is clearer, but I completely disagree. That requires readers to know the whole order of every game to understand what it applies to. Many users will not know *every* single game, but they are more likely to have an understanding of the different
  • Additionally, it makes pages consistent and easy to type. Saying Vice City in GTA III Era is much simpler than Vice City in GTA Vice City and GTA Vice City Stories. Saying Wanted Level in GTA III - GTA Vice City Stories is harder to type, less consistent (some will be "and" some will be "X, Y and Z"). And page names would have to change as new games come out. Also, what happens if things are non-sequential? So if something appears in every game in the GTA III Era except GTA Advance, the title would have to be X in GTA III, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas, GTA Liberty City Stories and GTA Vice City Stories or X in GTA III - GTA Vice City Stories except GTA Advance - if you don't say that, then it is incorrect. Instead, saying X in GTA III Era is correct, and the article can say specifically what it appears in.
  • You say that the term "GTA III Era" is confusing to new readers. I think it is quite obvious that it means "Games in the same grouping/generation/age/series/season as GTA III". I expect that most would realise that it means everything between III and IV. Even if they don't automatically understand every single game in that grouping, I genuinely believe they will have an understanding of how newer games differ from the older games.
  • To use real-world examples, we often approximate and periodicise things to give an understanding of what is meant, even if it's not as specific as we could be. For example, saying something is Victorian gives an emotional understanding as opposed to specifically giving a date range. The same applies to saying 'The Eighties'. Not just in time terms, but also geographical ('The Deep South') and many other things. I think the same applies here - saying GTA III Era instantly makes you think of the III/VC/SA/LCS/VCS style of cartoony 3D game that doesn't appear in the other eras. Saying GTA 1 Era should make you think of the top-down styles and not JUST GTA 1.
  • I genuinely believe that once people have seen it once, they will understand the Era system completely. That's much simpler than being expected to remember the whole list of all GTA games in order.
  • GTA V does raise some points in terms of how different eras are. For the first time, we might see crossovers of characters, the same engine, and even copied vehicles. However, it is far too early to tell. Worst case scenario is that the IV and V eras get paired up.
  • In terms of the specific wording, as there is no official term, we're free to use whatever we like. I understand that an 'Era' in geological terms is millions of years, but it's often used in this context of an age-based non-overlapping grouping, and is the simplest term here. Generation perhaps makes more sense as it shows how each era is a technological advancement and improvement on the previous - each a new generation. Canon is more a technical term, and I understand it as an adjective (whether something is canonical) rather than a noun (a new canon).
  • I don't get what the huge problem with the word Era is - yes it's not official, it's the one thing we invent which makes our lives MUCH easier. Other things we invent include the name GTA 1 and all our types of Vehicles - they just make sense.
So as you can tell, I'm in favour of keeping the Era terminology as it is simple, straightforward, easy to understand and incredibly useful. If we changed to X-to-Y terminology, that would make things much more complicated and much harder to quickly understand for new and experienced users alike. I'm happy to look a bit more carefully about how frequently we use the term. Let me know what you think, and I hope other users will join in! --gboyers talk 04:22, 4 November 2011 (GMT)

Other than the previous discussion, I have little to add. I still prefer "series" over "era." I think it may prevent further general confusion over the usage of the term.--spaceeinstein 04:23, 7 November 2011 (GMT)

Problem is that we use "series" to refer to the entire "GTA Series", so that could cause further confusion. Think of a television series, one "series" includes all of the "seasons" (at least in America, it's different here in Australia), which are a grouping of episodes similar to how we use eras. JFletcherTalk (formerly User:Biggest gta fan ever) 04:34, 7 November 2011 (GMT)
I think series makes it sound too official - as if they are clear separate regular groups, like TV seasons. People would expect that to be marked on the box as "series 3" etc. Truth is that eras are just our groupings based on when Rockstar chooses to increment the number. That's why I like the term era, as it is time based and non-specific (whilst generations implies one is a child game of another). gboyers talk

"Official stance" from Rockstar

SammiiDoogles: There are many references to GTAIII characters and brands (El Burro graffiti in LC for example) in GTAIV, but do any characters (other than Lazlow) actually exist within both 'universes'? Is that where Donald Love went? Did he hop dimensions into the GTAIV universe?! Plot twist!! Are the two universes completely separate? I understand it'd make almost no sense having two Liberty City's but is there any way we'll see characters from GTAIII return? GTAIV has some amazing characters, but some of the characters in the III era are just unforgettable.
Rockstar: El Burro is referenced as he was also referenced in GTA 1, so it felt appropriate that he should cross “universes” – the “universes” are the worlds interpreted at different definitions, 2d, 3d and high definition, so we felt brands and radio / back ground characters would exist in both, but 3 dimensional characters would not. This is the logic (as far as it could be considered logical) behind it – so no, we don’t believe any GTA3 characters could exist in the GTA4 universe.

From the GTA III Asked & Answered. Thoughts? The idea of three different "universes" instead of five "eras" is interesting... --Bluesboyjr (talk) 22:31, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

Separating games based on definition makes sense. From flat sprites, to 3D models, to high-poly 3D models. If this is the case, with GTA V built over the same engine that runs GTA IV, this could imply that GTA V may be in the same universe as GTA IV.--spaceeinstein 22:55, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

Well found! Exactly the sort of thing we needed from them. There are a few key pieces of information we can use here:

  • The universes are considered separate (but with overlaps) - exactly as we believed
  • The separation of universes by 'definition' (2D, 3D, HD) - although this presumably overlooks GTACW and Advance.
  • They seem to say 'GTA3 characters' to refer to the characters from the GTA III Era and 3D universe, not just the game

So, how should we proceed? Firstly, Our Era terminology does fit with their definition universe theory, just dividing it up a bit more. I don't think it would be very intuitive for us to say "Liberty City in 3D Universe" - it's not clear whether the 2D GTA Advance fits in, or whether the 3D+HD GTA IV fits in. Also, GTA V might be 3D in the sense of being able to use 3D glasses/displays natively, which could further confuse things. Arbitrarily splitting things up as 'First Era' or 'First Universe' wouldn't help either.

So I think, all in all, our era system is still the best system, and it is completely compatible with Rockstar's interpretation. A universe can span multiple eras, nothing wrong with that, and there should be no clashes. Whilst definition might make sense to us, trying to organise a wiki completely around a single aspect like 2D/3D/HD is going to cause LOADS of exceptions and rules which will make it confusing for the average user. For example, "Liberty City in 3D Era" would include the top-down GTA Advance, but we can't explain that it uses 3D models instead of 2D sprites to every user who wants to understand what an article is about. Saying "Liberty City in GTA III Era" is completely understandable for anyone who knows (or can briefly look at to understand) the rough order/grouping of the GTA games. gboyers talk 23:16, 15 December 2011 (UTC)