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Inside the making of a videogame that defined a generation: Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest and most controversial videogame franchises of all time. Since its first release in 1997, GTA has pioneered the use of everything from 3D graphics to the voices of top Hollywood actors and repeatedly transformed the world of gaming. Despite its incredible innovations in the $75 billion game industry, it has also been a lightning rod of debate, spawning accusations of ethnic and sexual discrimination, glamorizing violence, and inciting real-life crimes. Jacked tells the turbulent and mostly unknown story of GTA's wildly ambitious creators, Rockstar Games, the invention and evolution of the franchise, and the cultural and political backlash it has provoked.

  • Explains how British prep school brothers Sam and Dan Houser took their dream of fame, fortune, and the glamor of American pop culture and transformed it into a worldwide videogame blockbuster
  • Written by David Kushner, author of Masters of Doom and a top journalist on gaming, and drawn from over ten years of interviews and research, including firsthand knowledge of Grand Theft Auto's creators and detractors
  • Offers inside details on key episodes in the development of the series, including the financial turmoil of Rockstar games, the infamous "Hot Coffee" sex mini-game incident, and more

Whether you love Grand Theft Auto or hate it, or just want to understand the defining entertainment product of a generation, you'll want to read Jacked and get the real story behind this boundary-pushing game.

Author’s Note v

Prologue: Players vs. Haters 1

1 The Outlaws 5

2 The Warriors 11

3 Race’n’ Chase 20

4 Gouranga! 27

5 Eating the Hamster 36

6 Liberty City 46

7 Gang Warfare 55

8 Steal This Game 65

9 Rockstar Loft 74

10 The Worst Place in America 80

11 State of Emergency 89

12 Crime Pays 101

13 Vice City 111

14 Rampages 124

15 Cashmere Games 134

16 Grand Death Auto 142

17 Boyz in the Hood 159

18 Sex in San Andreas 170

19 Unlock the Darkness 186

20 Hot Coffee 201

21 Adults Only 216

22 Busted! 222

23 Bullies 230

24 Flowers for Jack 247

25 New York City 259

Epilogue: Outlaws to the End 271

Acknowledgments 279

Notes 280

Index 292



Publié par
Date de parution 24 février 2012
Nombre de lectures 5
EAN13 9781118197936
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0800€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Title Page
Author's Note
Prologue: Players vs. Haters
1: The Outlaws
2: The Warriors
3: Race 'n' Chase
4: The Gouranga!
5: Eating the Hamster
6: Liberty City
7: Gang Warfare
8: Steal This Game
9: Rockstar Loft
10: The Worst Place in America
11: State of Emergency
12: Crime Pays
13: Vice City
14: Rampages
15: Cashmere Games
16: Grand Death Auto
17: Boyz in the Hood
18: Sex in San Andreas
19: Unlock the Darkness
20: Hot Coffee
21: Adults Only
22: Busted!
23: Bullies
24: Flowers for Jack
25: New York City
Epilogue: Outlaws to the End

To Andy Kushner
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Copyright © 2012 by David Kushner. All rights reserved
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey Published simultaneously in Canada
Designations used by companies to distinguish their products are often claimed as trademarks. In all instances where John Wiley & Sons, Inc., is aware of a claim, the product names appear in Initial Capital or ALL CAPITAL letters. Readers, however, should contact the appropriate companies for more complete information regarding trademarks and registration.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750–8400, fax (978) 646–8600, or on the web at www.copyright.com . Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748–6011, fax (201) 748–6008, or online at http://www.wiley.com/go/permissions .
Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and the author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.
For general information about our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762–2974, outside the United States at (317) 572–3993 or fax (317) 572–4002.
Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats and by print-on-demand. Some content that appears in standard print versions of this book may not be available in other formats. For more information about Wiley products, visit us at www.wiley.com .
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Kushner, David, 1968- Jacked: the outlaw story of Grand Theft Auto/David Kushner. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-470-93637-5 (hardback); ISBN 978-1-118-19792-9 (ebk); ISBN 978-1-118-19793-6 (ebk); ISBN 978-1-118-19794-3 (ebk)
1. Grand theft Auto games. 2. Video games. I. Title.
GV1469.35.G738K87 2012
Author's Note
This book is based on more than ten years of research. I first played Grand Theft Auto in 1997 and began reporting on its creators, Rockstar Games, two years later. As the franchise boomed, I chronicled game culture and industry for publications that included Rolling Stone , Wired , the New York Times , GamePro , and Electronic Gaming Monthly , as well as in my first book, Masters of Doom.
My reporting took me across the country and around the world—from the offices of Rockstar in New York to the streets of Dundee, Scotland, where GTA began. There were long days and endless nights at game conventions and start-ups. I spent hundreds (thousands?) of hours playing games. I played Pong with Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, and, for one particularly awesome afternoon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, rolled the dice with Gary Gygax, the cocreator of Dungeons & Dragons.
As the industry grew, I saw the controversies rise over violent video games—especially over GTA—and covered both sides of the disputes. I sat with a crying mother in a tiny town in Tennessee, where her sons had just murdered one person and maimed another—and triggered a $259 million lawsuit against Rockstar and others for allegedly inspiring the crime with GTA. I went to Coral Gables, Florida, to visit GTA 's chief opponent, Jack Thompson, at his home.
I spoke with leaders from the Entertainment Software Association in Washington, D.C., and went behind closed doors at the clandestine Entertainment Software Ratings Board in New York to see how games are rated. In Iowa City, I sat in a small stuffy room hooked up to electrodes while I played Grand Theft Auto —and university researchers studied my brain. Yeah, it was strange.
Though all of these adventures don't appear explicitly in this book, they inform it. This is a work of narrative nonfiction, a recreation of the story of GTA. The scenes and the dialogue are drawn from hundreds of my own interviews and firsthand observations, as well as thousands of articles, court documents, and TV and radio reports. The Rolling Stone reporter who appears in the book is me.
Over the years since I first visited Rockstar Games, I've interviewed many people at the company including each of the cofounders. Though the current helm at Rockstar declined to participate in this book, I was able to draw freely from my previous interviews with them and speak extensively with those who have left. A few sources didn't want to be identified, due to personal or professional concerns. Others were reluctant to talk, then eager, or eager, then reluctant. In the end, the vast majority went on the record. A funny thing happens when you write a book like this. People start to realize and appreciate that they are part of a larger story, not only their own, but everyone's.
Players vs. Haters

How far would you go for something you believe in?
One winter day, Sam Houser was going farther than he'd ever imagined or feared—all the way to Capitol Hill to answer to the Feds. The thirty-four-year-old had achieved the universal dream: rising from nowhere to make his fantasies real. Yet now reality was threatening to take it all away.
A scrappy Brit running an empire in New York City, Sam cultivated the image of the player he had become. Scruffy hair. Shaggy beard. Eyes hidden behind aviator shades. Gripping the wheel of his jet-black Porsche. Buildings towering. Taxis honking. Flipping stations on the radio. Pedal to the metal as the world blurred like a scene from the video game that made him so rich and so wanted: Grand Theft Auto.
GTA , the franchise published by Sam's company, Rockstar Games, was among the most successful and notorious video games of all time. GTA IV alone would smash the Guinness Record to be the most profitable entertainment release in history—leaving every blockbuster superhero movie and even the final Harry Potter book in its pixilated wake. Players bought more than 114 million copies and shelled out over $3 billion on the titles. The juggernaut helped make video games the fastest-growing segment of the entertainment business. By 2011, the $60 billion global game industry would dwarf music and film box office sales—combined.
GTA revolutionized an industry, defined one generation, and pissed off another, transforming a medium long thought of as kids' stuff into something culturally relevant, darkly funny, and wildly free. It cast players at “the center of their own criminal universe,” as Sam once told me. You were a bad guy doing bad things in fictional cities meticulously riffed from real life: Miami, Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles.
For the mad frat of Brits who invented the game, GTA was a love letter from England to America in all of its fantastic excess: the sex and the violence, the money and the crime, the fashion and the drugs. As the game's phenomenally talented art director Aaron Garbut once told me, the goal was “to make the player feel like he's starring in his own fucked-up Scorsese-directed cartoon.”
Ostensibly, players had to complete a series of missions for a motley crew of gangster bosses: whacking enemies, jacking cars, dealing drugs. Yet even better, players didn't have to play by the rules at all. GTA was a brilliantly open world to explore. There was no high score to hit or princess to save. Players could just steal an eighteen-wheeler at gunpoint, crank up the radio, and floor the gas, taking out pedestrians and lampposts and anything else dumb enough to get in the way of a good time. The fact that players could also hire hookers and kill cops made it controversial and tantalizing.
More personally, GTA made Sam Houser the rock star of his industry. Sam was passionate, driven, and creative, and Time ranked him among the world's most influential people, alongside President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Gordon Brown, for “creating tapestries of modern times as detailed as those of Balzac or Dickens.” Variety called GTA “a hit-machine arguably unparalleled in any other part of the media business.” The Wall Street Journal dubbed Sam “one of the leading lights of the video game era. A secretive, demanding workaholic [with] a temperament and a budget befitting a Hollywood mogul.” One analyst compared his company to “the kids on the isl

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