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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on July 4, 2016
Good book; heavy on facts, a lot of quotes from actual Rockstar/DMA employees. Content is well-organized, and while it does mostly center on the Houser brothers, there's quite a bit on R* and DMA in general.

The only issue that I have with this book is the editing. There are sentences that make no sense, and there is an unusually high number of typos. Sometimes the context is enough to understand what the author means - sometimes not. But if there is one thing that is absolutely infuriating it's the misspelling of "pixelated". Kushner is absolutely hellbent on using this word (as many as three times in one chapter), and each time he spells it as "pixilated" - which, while an actual word, means something completely unrelated. And while this may seem like a petty thing to bring up, the frequency of this is what makes it.. annoying.

Overall though, great book, definitely worth a read.
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on September 30, 2012
If David Kushner's other book (Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture) is about success and business souring a friendship, then "Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto" is about the cold business world destroying wild dreams and ambitions.

Sam Housar is a man who came to America with such wild dreams. The president and co-founder of Rockstar Games wanted to create video games that reminded him of the movies he enjoyed in his youth. Not only that, he wanted to make games immersive and sophisticated - an art form that older generations could no longer stereotype as 'children's toys.' But after the multimillion dollar success of the Playstation 2's "Grand Theft Auto" trilogy, Sam and his rebel crew at Rockstar found themselves caught in the crosshairs of an American culture war fueled by puritanical politicians and parents. Pressure only worsened as Rockstar's parent company, Take-Two Interactive, was struck by fraud investigations. Suddenly, making envelope-pushing video games was no longer a dream job... collided with cold reality, it was hell on earth.

The Hot Coffee scandal in particular really drove the boys to the brink. "Jacked" does a good job of showing the immense amounts of tension and soul-crushing strife in the aftermath that forced many to leave the company and others to view their stressful work environment as a place that wasn't quite so fun anymore.

Meanwhile, behind enemy lines and spearheading the attack on Rockstar (or at least trying to make a name for himself as a crusader for justice) was an embittered Miami lawyer. Having already had moderate success against Two-Live Crew and Howard Stern, Jack Thompson trained his litigating guns on a new scourge that was not only threatening the youth of America in his eyes, but putting his young son in danger on a daily basis: violent video games. And Rockstar made just the type of product that got Thompson's infamous press releases rolling.

"Jacked" fascinated me. I followed the entire controversy and free-for-all between Thompson, politicians and Rockstar Games during my college years, and this book recounts those warring days in perfect detail. I remember the blowup over "Kill All the Haitians," Hot Coffee, the numerous proposed bills, and Thompson's persistent trolling of GamePolitics.com. I was there for it all - and "Jacked" was a wonderful trip back in time as well as a fulfilling journey behind the scenes.

Speaking of Jack Thompson, the book's portrayal of him is surprisingly sympathetic. For gamers, he has come to represent a kind of mustache-twirling supervillain, a destroyer of fun wherever it may be. In stark contrast, the man presented here is a concerned father who only wants to make the world a safer, cleaner place for his son. Of course, if one were to dig up Thompson's lengthy, rambling, bile-filled press releases (which "Jacked" doesn't quite reproduce) they might see a different side of the disbarred lawyer... perhaps a man driven mad by a crusade that has consumed him.

Each chapter is headed by an illustration or quote that makes the story feel like it's straight out of a "Grand Theft Auto" playthrough. As Rockstar gets in larger amounts of trouble, the chapters are illustrated with increasing 'Wanted Level' stars. I loved this little element - it made the book even more of a fun ride.

Perhaps the book could have gone into more detail about some things. For example, Kushner left out any mention of Volition Inc. and how Sam Housar might have felt about the GTA clone "Saints Row" series - especially "Saints Row 2," which some gamers jumped onto as a response to GTA IV's focus on heavy realism and man-dates. The Sam in "Jacked" doesn't strike me as the type of person who would be too happy about that.

All in all, this was not only a great book, but a captivating page turner. I was sad to see it end so quickly. Like "Masters of Doom," "Jacked" has all the right elements for a fantastic movie: drama, humor and heartbreak. If you're like me and you've spent hundreds of hours between "GTAIII," "Vice City" and "San Andreas," you'd be doing yourself a huge favor by reading this book.
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on November 15, 2016
I could follow the two main characters well enough. But there were a lot of other people covered, and I had trouble keeping them all straight.

I did love the small chapters. Let me finish a chapter very often and move on to subsequent ideas.

Did not really know a lot about the GTA game before reading this. Was pretty educational too.
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on September 6, 2016
This book was so good that I bought the author's other video game related book masters of doom and I'm gone to read it right after this review. As a life long gamer and as a fan and GTA player had to read it as I said I'm a life long gamer but right about now I'm at the stage where I want to know what's going on behind the scenes and how video games are made and the people who may them and their motivation and is not my first video game book about the subject I guess I'm trying to get inside game developer's mind because one hopefully I can make may own game's one day. That could only be half as good as the game and the author (David Kushner) and other video game book author have written about it's a great book and if your a life long fan of games like I am pick it up
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on August 1, 2012
As an avid fan of Rockstar this book was a little disappointing. Overall it was well written and informative, but I suppose you can't hope for a happy ending in non fiction

I expected a good deal of bias. I figured Sam Houser would be portrayed as likeable, while Jack Thompson would be slandered. However, I felt sympathetic towards both men at the start of the book and sort of hated them both by the end. Additionally, Rockstar's actions throughout the GTA controversies and the working conditions, apparently for all of their games, left me feeling a bit guilty for supporting the company.

Overall, I enjoyed the book a great deal, finishing it within a day, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth, despite the fact that Kushner tried to show how they had "grown up" with GTA IV.
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on May 26, 2016
Well-written, engaging and informative. Being a gamer certainly doesn't hurt.
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on July 9, 2014
Starting from the humble beginnings of the 2D top down original game to Grand Theft Auto IV, this book chronicles the hardships, the luck and the controversies that went into making these series of violent yet innovative bar-pushing games. A great read that even manages to humanize Jack Thompson, once the enemy of gamers everywhere.
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on May 14, 2013
This is a fun read about Rockstar Games and GTA. The prose is occasionally difficult to follow and the narrative is not particularly strong, but for anyone interested in Rockstar or video game development in general, it is a very good read. It's full of interesting tidbits and it will definitely keep your attention.
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on December 31, 2014
The book does a very good job of showing the inner workings of Rockstar while it was building up its hit series GTA. There are times I felt it was a little jumbled, mostly with the Jack Thompson stuff, but it does not effect the quality of the book.

I recommend reading this on a vacation like I did.
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on May 21, 2015
I got this in hard cover as a present for my boyfriend because he had been asking for it. Its in perfect condition!. No pages bent and the cover has no dents. We are both very satisfied !! I highly suggest getting this for your self or a friend!!
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