Leslie Benzies is the former president of Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design), based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is best known for his work on the Grand Theft Auto series, beginning with 2001's Grand Theft Auto III.
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Benzies fell in love with computers and video games as a child. He supported himself for years in his early adulthood by programming and fixing computers for local businesses, with one his employers being Moray Instruments and Computers in the city of Elgin, Moray. He got his start in game development when, at 24, he sent an independent project to David Jones, who was then head of DMA Design, which had had tremendous success with the Lemmings series. Jones gave Benzies a trial and then a full-time job. Benzies' first project was working on the team developing the Nintendo 64 platformer Space Station Silicon Valley.
He and his team, feeling mistreated by management, had planned to leave DMA Design after completing the game. However, they were persuaded to stay when Rockstar Games offered to place them in charge of DMA and put them in control of Grand Theft Auto III.
Benzies rarely makes media appearances, but did grant an interview to The Times which was printed on April 27, 2008, just prior to the release of GTA IV. In the interview, Benzies estimates that development of GTA IV has cost around $100 million, and says of the controversy surrounding the games, "There is a big fear factor here. It's the coming of the railways. It's Elvis shaking his hips. It's cars going over 25 miles an hour and making people explode." Of Rockstar North's future ambitions, he says, "Until we've simulated the world outside, we're not going to stop."
On September 1, 2014 Benzies went on a 17-month sabbatical after which he decided not to return to the company.