Elgin’s creator of Grand Theft Auto steals the show in Edinburgh

Benzies is congratulated by Angus Robertson MP

Any parents worried about the time their kids are spending playing computer games might wish to pay particular attention to the winner of the newly crowned ‘CEO of the Year’ at the Scottish Business Awards on Monday.

Winner was one Leslie Benzies, president of Rockstar North – but perhaps better known as the lead developer of the legendary and incredibly successful Grand Theft Auto games series.

Born in Aberdeen but brought up in Moray, Leslie first moved to Dufftown with his property developer parents. His father purchased a Dragon 32 computer in the 1970’s that was quickly ‘appropriated’ by his son – and from then on his future was set.

By the time he reached his teens he was well into video gaming, by now living in Elgin as by then his mother had married Jack Noble who had a stake in Elgin City FC (Leslie would later make an investment in the club himself).

On leaving school he found a job with a local IT firm – fixing computers for local businesses – before decided at 24-years-old he would move into full time development of computer games.

His Grand Theft Auto series has enjoyed unprecedented success, including a BAFTA in 2005 awarded jointly to Leslie and Sam Houser, then president of Rockstar Games, for their ‘outstanding contribution to the games industry’.

Leslie received his Scottish Business Awards accolade in Edinburgh on Monday in front of main speaker Sir Richard Branson. At the awards ceremony was Moray MP Angus Robertson, who said he was delighted that an ‘Elgin Loon’ and lifted such a prestigious award.

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