GTA 1 — GTA 2
Used during and after missions in GTA 1, the delivery of message to the player's pager is one of several methods players may be provided with further instructions upon completion of a certain task. For much of its appearances in the series, pager messages are delivered via a scrolling line of text on the device. In addition to messages, pagers are also used as stopwatches to inform the player of the time remaining before a deadline expires.
The pager is also featured in the Grand Theft Auto: London mission packs with a 1950s/1960s design, seemingly appearing to be an anachronism as the first successful consumer pager was only released in 1974, however, the game explains the "pager" is merely a portable device that receives telegrams, an even older communication system, printing out a scrolling tape of text based on incoming Morse code-based messages; the telegraph is even touted in the game to be the "communication of the future", far from the reality of modern times.
For Grand Theft Auto 2, a pager-like device is similarly used to measure the time remaining before a Kill Frenzy ends and the kill count is featured, but does not possess the functionality of a pager.
GTA III — GTA Vice City Stories
The pager as a communication device was reintroduced in Grand Theft Auto III for largely the same purpose as GTA 1, but to a more limited extent, such as updates on newly available weapons at Ammunation, messages to meet new contacts, or information during a mission. The pager in GTA III is also notable for playing a ring tone based on the song Grand Theft Auto by Da Shootaz, one of several GTA games that adopted the song in a certain form. Grand Theft Auto Advance is also known to depict a pager when characters relay information to the protagonist, justifiable given the use of the pager in GTA III, set just a year after events in GTA Advance.
The introduction of the mobile phone and a verbal protagonist in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City rendered the pager obsolete as a slower form of communication. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, however, saw the use of the Beeper 220 pager as a matter of historical accuracy, assuming practical mobile phone technology in 1984 had yet to mature.
The Beeper 220 pager in GTA Vice City Stories.