David Kushner - Jacked (3 stars)

David Kushner - Jacked

An entertaining, if hyperbolic, 'unauthorised' history of Grand Theft Auto


After a similar book on Doom, journalist David Kushner returns to familiar ground with Jacked. This ‘unauthorised’ history of Grand Theft Auto traces the game’s development from its early beginnings in Dundee to become one of the highest selling videogames of all time. The most fascinating element of the GTA saga is not the groundbreaking gaming experience but its cultural impact. Vilified by the Christian right, GTA became the poster boy for violent videogames and their perceived threat to society.

Much like comics, VHS and heavy metal before it GTA found itself demonised and running into a political storm in America with the release of the ‘Hot Coffee’ mod in 2005’s GTA: San Andreas which allowed players to access explicit sexual content. Kushner gives a human face to this ideological conflict by setting up Sam Houser as the dogmatic head of Rockstar against equally blinkered moral crusader Jack Thompson.

Kushner has a tendency to favour sensationalist language but it helps propel the story forward, turning what could be a dry, technical history lesson into an entertaining, if hyperbolic, read.

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