Grand Theft Auto, or GTA in short, is a long-running series of video games, published by Rockstar Games and developed by subsidiary companies. The game was originally developed and published by Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design) and BMG Interactive (a subsidiary of BMG Records).
There are currently ten games in the series, with a further two expansion packs for the original, and downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV. The games have been released for various platforms, including the PC, PSX, DC, PS2, Xbox, PS3, Xbox 360, GBC, GBA, PSP and DS, with most of the games released on multiple platforms.
There has been a massive amount of controversy over this series, which peaked with the discovery of some sex scenes in GTA San Andreas that were disabled (but not removed) before the game was published and could be enabled without much effort both in PC and console versions. The unofficial Hot Coffee mod and subsequent uproar gave Rockstar Games a huge amount of press attention.
Grand Theft Auto holds 10 world gaming records including the Most Guest Stars in a Video Game Series, Largest Voice Cast in a Video Game (GTA San Andreas), Largest In-Game Soundtrack (GTA IV), and Most Successful Entertainment Launch Of All Time (GTA IV).
The games allow people to take on the role of a criminal in a big city, typically an individual who rises through the ranks of organised crime through the course of the game. Various missions are set for completion by the figureheads of the city underworld, generally criminal, which must be completed to progress through the storyline. Assassinations, and other crimes feature regularly, but occasionally taxi driving, firefighting, pimping, street racing, or learning to fly fixed-wing aircraft are also involved as alternate adventures, which can be done at any time during the game, with the exception of the periods performing main missions.
The Grand Theft Auto series, belonging to a genre of free-roaming video games called "sandbox games," grants a large amount of freedom to the player in deciding what to do and how to do it through multiple methods of transport and weapons. Unlike most traditional action games, which are structured as a single track series of levels with linear gameplay, in GTA the player can determine the missions they want to undertake, and their relationships with various characters are changed based on these choices. The cities of the games can also be roamed freely at any point in the game, offering many accessible buildings and minor missions. There are exceptions: missions follow a linear, overarching plot, and some city areas must be unlocked over the course of the game. Although you can explore the entire city or state even it is locked (but there are limited time to explore some city because some may trigger a 4-wanted level) and ignore the missions.
Individual games in the series can be categorized into different 'eras', mostly dependant on the storyline and graphics engine used. The start of a new era is indicated by a new number after Grand Theft Auto, e.g. "GTA III".
In the GTA 1 Era there is the original game, and the subsequent two expansion packs featuring missions in 1960's London. Whilst originally just called '"Grand Theft Auto", the first game and era have become known as "GTA 1" for clarity.
The GTA 2 Era contains just GTA 2, which featured an improved graphics engine and a different style of gameplay.
The GTA III Era featured the first blockbuster GTA title, Grand Theft Auto III, and introduced a 3D game world and a third person perspective. The entire era contains interlocking storylines, and many characters appear across multiple games. Notably, games in this era were not released in chronological order.
It is generally believed that the GTA III Era has been completed, and there will be no more official expansions on the characters, storylines or engine. However Modifications and Fan Fiction continue to build on these.
Grand Theft Auto has one of the largest fan bases of any game franchise. There are many unofficial Fansites about GTA games, providing the latest news, download databases, and often an online forum for the GTA community. Thousands of GTA fansites exist, ranging from small one-person news blogs to community-edited wikis to massive downloads databases to forums with hundreds of thousands of members.
One activity popular with fans is modding - creating new vehicle models, skins, re-texturing of objects, and tweaking settings in the games' configuration files. These modifications are then made freely available on these fansites for anyone to download and install into their game. Another popular pastime (since GTA III) is stunting - the act of performing wild stunts with vehicles, and producing compilation videos.
Some of the more creative members of the community enjoy writing their own Fan Fiction - stories based on events which follow on from, or are based around events which happen in the games. These are not considered to be canon, but
The List of GTA Forums attempts to list all of the large communities, and demonstrates just how big the community as a whole is.
These are some of the most popular fan sites: