Jun 292013

Jacked coverDavid Kushner’s Jacked is the story of the Grand Theft Auto franchise and its implementors’ troubled co-existence with the moralistic society.

Rockstar’s journey from a small scottish publisher to the forefront of digital entertainment hasn’t been simple or free of troubles, and this book doesn’t shirk away from the bad press. On the contrary, actually, as at times the author seems to contradict the main interviewees.

Jacked also details the career of Jack Thompson, the single-minded lawyer who took on the company, and lost. Lost his career (getting disbarred in the process) and his credibility.

But as the book notes, things could have gone the other way. The sex and violence inherent in the criminal sagas might have been just too much for the american sensibilities, as some of the games did get banned in various countries. And the behaviour of the founders borders on self-destructive at times.

The book doesn’t attempt to be a company level ludography of Rockstar. It omits a lot, and concentrates on the controversy (such as the “hot coffee”-minigame of San Andreas) instead of the games themselves.

Also, for a book published as late as 2012, the coverage of the studio’s most recent games (GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption) is way too shallow. After all, the company reclaimed its seat with those two sandbox-games.

Jacked is not a bad book by any means. The text flows well, and the context of the issues Rockstar and its publishers faced is explained well to people not that familiar with the game industry.

But for most of its length it’s a book about a company and its founders, rather than its games.

And that, in my book makes it a far lesser book it could have been.