The Meaning and Culture of Grand Theft Auto

Critical Essays


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About the Book

The immensely popular Grand Theft Auto game series has inspired a range of reactions among players and commentators, and a hot debate in the popular media. These essays from diverse theoretical perspectives expand the discussion by focusing scholarly analysis on the games, particularly Grand Theft Auto III (GTA3), Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (GTA:VC), and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (GTA:SA).
Part One of the book discusses the fears, lawsuits, legislative proposals, and other public reactions to Grand Theft Auto, detailing the conflict between the developers of adult oriented games and various new forms of censorship. Depictions of race and violence, the pleasure of the carnivalistic gameplay, and the significance of sociopolitical satire in the series are all important elements in this controversy. It is argued that the general perception of digital changed fundamentally following the release of Grand Theft Auto III. The second section of the book approaches the games as they might be studied absent of the controversy. These essays study why and how players meaningfully play Grand Theft Auto games, reflecting on the elements of daily life that are represented in the games. They discuss the connection between game space and real space and the many ways that players mediate the symbols in a game with their minds, computers, and controllers.

About the Author(s)

Nate Garrelts is a professor of English at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Nate Garrelts

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2822-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8348-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

An Introduction to Grand Theft Auto Studies      1

1. Spilling Hot Coffee? Grand Theft Auto as Contested Cultural Product      17
2. Political Interface: The Banning of GTA3 in Australia      35
3. Virtual Gangstas, Coming to a Suburban House Near You: Demonization, Commodification, and Policing Blackness      49
4. Play-Fighting: Understanding Violence in Grand Theft Auto III      70
5. The Subversive Carnival of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas      88
6. Grand Theft Video: Running and Gunning for the U.S. Empire      104
7. From Stompin’ Mushrooms to Bustin’ Heads: Grand Theft Auto III as Paradigm Shift      115

8. Everyday Play: Cruising for Leisure in San Andreas      127
9. Cruising in San Andreas: Ludic Space and Urban Aesthetics in Grand Theft Auto      143
10. Experiencing Place in Los Santos and Vice City      162
11. Positioning and Creating the Semiotic Self in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas      177
12. Against Embedded Agency: Subversion and Emergence in GTA3      199
13. Inviting Subversion: Metalepses and Tmesis in Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto Series      210
14. Playing with Style: Negotiating Digital Game Studies      226

About the Contributors      245
Index      249