The Grand Theft Auto series redefined gaming, pioneering the go-anywhere, do-anything sandbox genre and touching off worldwide debates about sex and violence in videogames. Wired contributor David Kushner tells the riveting history of the series in a new book, available this week from Wiley, titled Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto.
In this excerpt, we learn how Rockstar used an unorthodox public relations strategy to get British politicians denouncing the first Grand Theft Auto before the public had ever so much as seen it. Rockstar head Sam Houser was behind the plan, but game designer David Jones had his reservations.
In the United Kingdom, publicists didn’t get much bigger or more controversial than Max Clifford. Having built his career representing everyone from Frank Sinatra to Muhammad Ali, the quick-witted, silver-haired Clifford had become, as one journalist put it, a master manipulator of the tabloid media.
Blunt and opportunistic, Clifford urged BMG to forget about convention and embrace GTA’s criminality in all of its glory. If it’s part of the game, he said, it’s part of the game.
Clifford recommended not only owning up to the violence, but shoving it down the media’s throat. What better way to get people talking? Clifford said he knew there would be the wonderful elitist members of the establishment that would find something like this absolutely repulsive.
Criminal computer game that glorifies hit-and-run thugs, the Daily Mail duly hyped. Imagine yourself being an up and coming low-life car thief, stealing exotic cars, and then add murder one, cop killing, car-hacking, drugrunning, bank-raids and even illegal alien assassination!
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