The biggest news in the gaming industry over the past two days has of course been the release of the trailer for GTA 6.

It just so happens that a while ago I read a related book, Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto, later written by DOOM Apocalypse author David Kushner, who interviewed members of Rockstar’s founding team and tons of ex-employees, and told a lot of the story of the birth of the GTA series, generations 1-3, in the form of the Behind the Scenes.

I guess because of the subject matter, this book has not been introduced in China, so I’ll post a reading note by the way.


The main clue in the book is naturally Sam Houser, but in addition to telling the story behind the development of the game, the author has intentionally set up an antagonist for Rockstar: Jack Thompson, a social activist who has made it his mission to fight against video games, and such violent themes as GTA are naturally the best targets for him. While there are certainly points of antagonistic conflict in this line, it’s overly large and appears too often to detract from the overall read.

In the book, Kushner writes this paragraph, which can be used as a summary of the GTA series: “GTA revolutionized an industry, defined one generation, pissed off another, and transformed a medium that had long been seen as a children’s game into one of cultural significance, dark humor, and wild freedom. As Sam once told me, it puts the player at ‘the center of your own criminal world’, where you’re a bad guy doing bad things in fictional cities that carefully mimic real life: Miami, Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles.

For the lunatic British brothers who invented the game, GTA was a love letter from England to America, full of whimsy: sex, violence, money, crime, fashion and drugs. As the game’s talented art director, Aaron Garbut, once told me, the goal is to ‘make the player feel like they’re starring in a bad cartoon directed by Scorsese.’”

The Aaron Garbut mentioned in this passage is the same art director whose son leaked gameplay footage in the recent buzz, and has a lot of credentials, but of course, judging by some of the controversial topic marketing of the previous game operated by the Rockstar team featured in the book, it’s possible that this so-called leak was also intentional…


The book is back to the main story, the book tells a lot of content, simply send some key points, some do a certain expansion, only to do record sharing.

  • 1, the Houser brothers are British, the mother of the two Geraldine Moffat is a British actress, representative of the film “Get Carter”, also appeared in “007 Russian Love”, but is not a Bond girl is the female supporting; father Walter Houser runs one of the UK’s hottest jazz clubs Ronnie Scott’s, and many musicians have relationships. which was the hottest jazz club in the UK, and was associated with many musicians. So Sam Houser grew up very much like gangster movies and music, very much admire the film director Don Simpson, it can be said that similar to the gangster films of the cinematic narrative and different styles of music together as the GTA series of iconic elements.

  • 2, childhood Sam Houser’s favorite game is “Elite”, a 1984 birth of the player to play the spacecraft commander of the space trade game, the online game EVE has said that it is the source of inspiration for the design; “Elite” is also regarded as the first real sense of the open world game, the degree of freedom is relatively high, you can do the mission or bounty hunter, you can trade, you can do in the asteroid mining, and being a space pirate to loot other ships.


    1. As a teenager, Sam Houser began to enjoy hip-hop music, and his favorite hip-hop label was Def Jam. He loved the band Slayer, admired Rick Rubin, and then loved New York, the city where Def Jam was born. After a trip to New York with his father at the age of 18, Sam fell in love with the city and naturally couldn’t wait to get to New York after it was acquired by Take Two, which is based there.


  • 4、Sam Houer’s first job was in Bertelsmann’s music company BMG music video, but still wanted to do the game, and then because of BMG’s interactive publishing department plans to get involved in the game Sam jumped to this department, and since then with the game has formed an unbreakable bond.

  • 5, the creator of the first two generations of the GTA series is Dave Jones founded DMA Design, he is the most successful game developers in Scotland in the early days. Jones success story is somewhat like a solo version of the DOOM Kai Shih Records: want to be successful, you just need a computer and dreams. Before GTA, DMA’s most successful game, Lemmings, had sold more than 2 million copies and was already a very successful game development team, and Jones was only 25 years old at the time.

  • 6, GTA’s first generation was developed by DMA and published by BMG, so Sam Houser was also involved from the beginning. The game was first called Cops and Robbers, very straightforward …… later renamed Race ‘n’ Chase, the setting was for players to play as police officers to chase down bad guys, and the subsequent testing process began to allow players to run down pedestrians and gain points for doing so, and so it went down the completely opposite path of setting and had the Grand Theft Auto this name.

  • 7, the first generation of GTA set three cities: Miami as the prototype of Vice City, San Francisco as the prototype of San Andreas, and New York as the prototype of Liberty City, which is of course, in order to better let the game into the largest U.S. market at the time, and then in the “GTA 3: San Andreas” added Los Angeles as the prototype of Los Santos, of course, but also not without the Los Santos. Santos, and of course San Francisco and Las Vegas.

  • 8,Because it was a brand new series, in order to get the game noticed, BMG hired Max Clifford, a famous scandal PR expert at the time, to promote the game, hoping to use the game’s violent elements as a selling point, and to generate media attention by getting politicians to criticize it, and it did work. The book describes David Jones as being resistant to this behavior, but Sam Houser and others were very supportive of the marketing. In the following several works, there are also some different degrees of hype and marketing, including a self-made diss Rockstar fake website.

  • 9,After the success of GTA’s first generation, BMG was sold by Bertelsmann to Take Two, a New York-based game publisher founded by media mogul Peter Brant’s then 21-year-old second son, Ryan, who went on to build a gaming empire through a steady stream of acquisitions.Sam Houser became Take Two’s vice president of global product development. Sam Houser became Take Two’s VP of Global Product Development and moved to New York with his younger brother Dan and a few partners to start a new label, Rockstar, and after many years of philosophical differences, several of the founding partners went their separate ways, and a few years ago his younger brother Dan left as well.

  • 10, for the new label, the team very much hope to reflect the spirit of GTA’s rebellion, at first wanted to call Grudge Games, meaning grudge, “world-class grudge bearers”, and then some people think it is too negative, and then Sam put forward the name Rockstar. Sam proposed the name Rockstar and found artist Jeremy Blake to create the logo, Sam’s goal is to make Rockstar the Def Jam of video games, a few years later, the GTA trilogy was a huge success and Rockstar became widely known, Def Jam even took the initiative to contact Rockstar to seek cooperation after the release of Sin City.

  • 11,Rockstar released a skateboarding game called “Thrasher: Skate and Destroy”, which started using hip-hop music, and the GTA series featured a wide variety of music on the radio, but hip-hop took up a large portion of the airwaves. Rock Star established a close relationship with the hip-hop community early on, and later hired some rappers to provide voice-overs for the game. The theme song for Generation 5, “Welcome to Los Santos,” was composed by rapper Oh No, and there were many collaborations with rappers in GTA V Online as well.

But one of my favorite radio music from the whole series is not hip-hop, it’s Laura Branigan’s “Self Control”, very 80’s.

  • 12,In 1999, Take-Two purchased DMA from Infogrames for $11 million in cash, and David Jones chose to take the money and continue as a standalone company, leaving the GTA series in the hands of Rockstar, who took over most of the DMA staff and moved the team to Edinburgh, which is now Rockstar North. Rockstar took over most of the DMA staff and moved the team to Edinburgh, which is now Rockstar North.

Rockstar has since made it taboo for ex-employees to talk about GTA, with a blog post by former employee Jeff Williams after the 2007 Hot Coffee incident causing an uproar, which was later deleted. A few years ago, Mike Dailly, an early employee of DMA, released some of the first generation of GTA content was also directly by Rockstar copyright warning.

  • 13, it is said that the GTA2 event in London invited Freddie “Brown Bread Fred” Foreman, a well-known British gangster who was convicted by the court of murder and robbery, to participate in the event, which is more ironic is that the other party refused to participate in the event and said: “This game encourages our young people to rob, steal and murder indiscriminately, which is something I am totally against”.

  • 14, from GTA 3, Rockstar is considered to have officially taken over the series, but also the majority of players are most familiar with a few works. 3 generations began the game into 3D, more immersive, the team also equipped with a dedicated cultural research to ensure that the details, including making sure that the doors of the car to open in the right way, to the streets of Chinatown wandering around, taking photos of store windows for the game to provide inspiration, and so on. Later in order to restore the city in GTAV also organized a field trip with tour guides and architectural historians.

  • 15, gangster film and television works is the inspiration for the GTA generations, including “Goodfellas”, “Outlaws”, “Dirty Harry”, “Scarface” and other movies and “The Sopranos”, “Miami Vice” and other TV shows, Rockstar also invited many gangster film actors for the game character voice, such as “Goodfellas” star Ray Liotta for the protagonist of the Sin City, the voice of Tommy.

  • 16, Rockstar’s office was only 1 mile from the 9/11 incident, so many people including Sam Houser witnessed the incident. Because of the impact of this incident, to New York as the background of GTA3’s release has been delayed, including modification of the game in some violent elements, removed similar to the World Trade Center building, and so on.

  • 17, Sin City, there are 2 rival gangs, the Cuban gang and the Haitian gang, the game was released inside a line (“Bring my brother over, and then we’ll take out these Haitians!”) caused an uproar. The Haitian Center Council and the Haitian American Human Rights Organization issued a press release stating that Rockstar and Take-Two “promote the use of Haitians for fun …… Players are instructed to kill all Haitians, who are stereotypically portrayed as thugs, thieves, and drug dealers in the video game! Protesters in New York stormed City Hall and Haitians across the U.S., and even the then President of Haiti consulted with the U.S. government, and then Mayor of New York, Bloomberg, sent a letter to Rockstar, which resulted in a public apology and the removal of controversial statements such as “kill the Haitians” from the game. Rockstar publicly apologized and removed the controversial “get rid of these Haitians” comments from the game.

There were two paragraphs in the apology announcement that the author felt were arrogant and condescending, but I’m sure the game developers felt the same way:

It is important to recognize that video games have evolved into a mature medium, no different from literature, film, and music. The fact that a game is popular does not mean that it encourages players to display hatred or violence against any group or individual in the “real world”.

Like literature, movies, music, and other forms of entertainment, we have always strived to create a video game experience with a degree of authenticity that we believe is our right.

  • 18, After it was later determined that GTASA’s protagonist was set to be a black CJ, Rockstar sought the advice and support of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus ahead of time, based on the ESRB’s recommendation, in order to avoid a similar incident in Haiti.

  • 19, what Sam has always wanted to do is push the boundaries of gaming, and for GTA that means as much freedom as possible, which also includes one thing: sex. During the development of GTASA Rockstar actually designed a large number of real sex scenes, but then hid these in order to get the game rating of M. —- did not remove them completely, so they were discovered by the mod authors and brewed the The famous Hot Coffee Incident.

However, before this content was discovered, internal emails obtained by the author indicated that Sam Houser was actually authorizing the team to release this content through a patch so that players could experience it… The Hot Coffee incident had a huge impact, after which Rockstar publicly responded that it was hacked, the ESRB upgraded the game’s rating from M to AO (the only AO-rated game on console gaming at the moment), and Sam went to Congress several times to be questioned.

  • 20, The ESRB’s rating process is also mentioned in the section introducing the ESRB. The ESRB places ads in parenting magazines, applicants do not need to have gaming experience, and receives about 1,000 applications per year from people with different occupations or statuses such as teachers, doctors, single mothers, etc., and ages ranging from 21 to 65, with 50 people reviewing and giving ratings for each game.

Let’s end with a quote from the book about game development:

“The only thing more exciting than playing a video game is creating it. Reality is imperfect, but simulations in games make it manageable, and you can add the parts you want and remove others (that you don’t). Start with a city of your choice and fill it with characters you design. The cars you want to drive, the stores you frequent, the music you want to listen to when the weather is bad, and you can change it to your liking. No matter how much freedom the player has in your game, they live in your world.”