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Publisher's Summary

Inside the making of the multibillion-dollar Grand Theft Auto videogame empire....

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.

Written by David Kushner, author of Masters of Doom and a top journalist on gaming, this book is drawn from over 10 years of interviews and research, including first-hand knowledge of Grand Theft Auto’s creators and detractors. It 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. It also offers inside details on key episodes in the development of the series, including the financial turmoil of Rockstar games, the infamous "Hot Coffee" sex minigame 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 hear Jacked and get the real story behind this boundary-pushing game.

David Kushner is an award-winning journalist and author. A contributing editor of Rolling Stone, he has also written for Wired, The New York Times Magazine, New York, and GQ. He served as the digital-culture commentator for National Public Radio and is an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

©2012 David Kushner (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Kushner Writes Well, Verner Drops the Ball

What did you love best about Jacked?

Jacked has a great story about one of the most controversial video games of our time. Learning the recent history of the GTA series from an insider perspective was fascinating.

Who was your favorite character and why?

While I wouldn't call Jack Thompson a favorite character, his struggle was fascinating.

Would you be willing to try another one of Adam Verner’s performances?

I did not care for Verner's performance. He sounded tired, and the emotional gravity he put in to the read did not match the character of the text. All around, I found his narration to be disappointing.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No; it was easy to grow bored with the narration.

Any additional comments?

Kushner tried to duplicate the earlier success of his masterpiece Masters of Doom. The problem is that he didn't have the same access. However, the writing is still at his high standards. The problem is Verner; you'd probably be better off just reading the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I LOVED this book.

If you are a gamer this is a really cool look into one of the biggest game company in the industry. It is a great inside the company through its birth up to today. It is well paced and Adam Verner does a great job narrating it. If your not a gamer it is still a good listen into a company going from a couple of guys into a multi-million dollar company. The story of how money and fame can take its toll and change people.

The same author wrote Master's of Doom. If you loved one you'll love the other. Highly recommend both.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I loved this book

Downloaded my first audio book and completed my very first listen this was a five star thriller into the look of entertainment history

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Stuff felt left out

it was an interesting story but I felt like they left out mentions of Lazlo. I was glad to mention Opie and Anthony one point but they failed to mention how in GTA 4 they had taken most of the cast including Ron and Fez along with up and coming Voice work by Bill Burr.

it was interesting to hear them talk about how hard it was to work with Ray Liotta Burt Reynolds but left out the fact that they made Samuel Jackson a complete surprise for the relaunch of GTA San Andreas.

it was cool they mentioned John montone. But really every game features a voice of Lazlo and they couldn't even talk about him at all?

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Could Have Been Better...

I finished this story all the way through as I really wanted to have a good grasp on RockStar games and the GTA series. However, while the book provided some good history and insight, it always felt like it fell a bit short throughout the listen. The stories seemed more second hand and felt like key and interesting details were missing.

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Rockstar Games And The Idiots Who Ran It

I've always been a big videogame fan, playing games back as far as the early 1980's, and so I'm pretty aware of the Rockstar Games library, but really didn't know much of the company's history. This book is very good as far as telling that story. The problem is though... it's not really THAT interesting a story, and by all accounts the principals in this story are basically jerks. Oh well, it was informative if not enjoyable.

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Doesn't Get the Creative Story

While this audiobook provides a brisk, well-narrated history of Rockstar Games' corporate evolution, I wanted to hear a little bit less about the decadent lifestyle and threatening workplace elitism, and more about the creative process of game design and world building. There is some of this, as when we're told of the Scottish engineers driving through the streets of LA with a microphone, recording street conversations to make GTA3 sound authentic, but I wanted a lot more. Sam and Dan Houser are clearly the heart of the story of GTA, but they did not cooperate with this book''s production, and without their perspective, this account is hollow. We don't get enough about Dan's writing process (did his literary studies influence his game scripting?) or the engineering challenges, not to mention there is no commentary or interpretative angle on the various GTA ludonarratives, nor any theorization of the larger significance of these games in the current culture. It's not that kind of book.

I found the Jack Thompson plot to be diverting and not interesting enough to take up as much space as it did. It could have been effectively edited down, and seems like its there to fill up what is an underdeveloped narrative.

That said, this book is somewhat enjoyable, and if you are curious about Rockstar, you will probably enjoy is, at least partially. It provided part of the story, but the great account of Rockstar is yet to be written.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Outlaws Forever

If you could sum up Jacked in three words, what would they be?

Outlaws, Scotts, Wanted

What other book might you compare Jacked to and why?

Masters of Doom. Kushner's first book on the golden age of gaming and programming, tells an almost equally gripping tale about the bad boys of the gaming world, and the controversy that surrounded them. Similar themes, but less focus on the technical aspects.

What does Adam Verner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Verner is a great narrator, and very subtle in his emphasis. Paper books just suck. I haven't read a physical book in years.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

You take the high road, and I'll take the low road, and I'll get to Los Santos before you...

Any additional comments?

Honestly, I would have liked to have had someone from the UK of Scotland narrate this instead, as most of the central characters hail from that region of the world. Was Patrick Stewart just not available? Still, Verner did a solid job.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Travis
  • Big Lake, MN, United States
  • 05-04-12

Well worth it

What did you love best about Jacked?

Even if you've never played Grand Theft Auto...we all know about it. The information in this book will give you an appreciation for all video games.