Communication in Grand Theft Auto refers to communication between the player and non-player characters in the game. Aside traditional face-to-face conversations between characters, various forms of communication devices are used throughout the series.
Until the introduction of verbose protagonists, communication between the player and other characters in the game were often one-way, the player having to merely listen to instructions or comments by the other side and replying with actions. The release of Grand Theft Auto III and games after saw the obsolescent of certain modes of communications.
Public telephones are, in both Grand Theft Auto 1 and Grand Theft Auto 2, a crucial mode of communication between the player and various criminals. Ringing in various portions of cities, players are issued orders by said party to perform a string of missions, simply by walking in front of the marked telephone booths. The system was employed more extensively in GTA 2, where individual missions are trigger each time the player walks up to a ringing public phone.
Emphasis on face-to-face meetings with individuals in Grand Theft Auto III resulted in fewer occurrences of public telephones as a means to issue missions to the player. Only a handful of characters in games after GTA 2 are known to use public telephones to address the player, including El Burro, King Courtney, D-Ice and Marty Chonks from GTA III, Mr. Black from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Wade Johnson from Grand Theft Auto IV.
The pager, also known as the beeper, is another communication device that debuted in the first GTA. Used during and after missions, 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 GTA 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 GTA 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.
The pager as a communication device was reintroduced in GTA III for largely the same purpose as GTA1, 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.
The introduction of the mobile phone and a verbal protagonist in GTA 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 mobile phone had been in use since GTA 1 as a mean for an unknown party to guide the player on jobs to do. Despite its potential for two-way communication, the mobile phone is initially used only to relay information to the player, with the player responding by completing jobs. As modern mobile phones were not available during the setting of the GTA London games, the phone is substituted by a walkie-talkie.
The mobile phone would not reappear in the series again until GTA Vice City, where it appears as a large, bulky device roughly the size of a walkie-talkie, but nevertheless useful during exchange of words between the verbal Tommy Vercetti and other characters in long distances. Phone calls on mobile phones are commonly triggered during and outside missions, providing players with developments in the storyline, as well as comical conversations between the characters.
As games and the in-game timeline progress, the mobile phone is shown to decrease in size as the years pass, relative to the improvement of mobile phones during the 1990s. By Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, the phone is more compact and slimmer, with a flip-down transmitter apparently depicted in the GTA San Andreas rendition of the device, and the GTA Liberty City Stories rendition depicted as a clamshell phone. By GTA IV, the mobile phone is further reduced to a palm-sized device, with top-of-the-line models supporting MP3-based ring tones and sound effects, color displays and a low-resolution camera; Luis Lopez's mobile phone in The Ballad of Gay Tony is comparatively more state-of-the-art with a touch screen design. Text messages (occasionally attached with images), now common in 2008, are also extensively received on GTA IV's mobile phone.
Before GTA IV, players do not have full control of phones, as the game dictates when the player receives and makes calls, triggered during certain events in the game. GTA IV allows the player to make calls on demand, arranging meeting with friends or girlfriends, or checking in on a character to advance the storyline.
The use of the Internet, which by the late 1990s had become a commonplace part of American culture, debuted in GTA 2 with a blog set in a GTA universe, followed by number of spoof websites for GTA III. GTA IV is the first game in the series to fabricate its own Internet, with around 100 websites available for access within the game itself. Its purpose as a communication device in GTA IV, is confined to a scant number of interactive websites, and its e-mail service.
Niko Bellic has an Eyefind e-mail account, which the player can use to read and reply to the various emails sent by other characters; although players do not write the replies themselves, they can sometimes dictate the tone of Niko's reply (with green and red buttons to select "positive" and "negative" responses). Most emails signify progression in the game's storyline (eg, emails praising you for completing a mission), build on a character's background (eg, emails from Niko's mother), or promote in-game features (eg, Brucie Kibbutz emailing Niko about vipluxuryringtones.com), however email is also used as an integral part of some missions, and Brucie's Exotic Exports side-missions are offered via email.
A handful of websites are also used to receive and send information for missions in various ways. love-meet.net is used in "Out of the Closet" to arrange a blind date with a man, while goldberglignerandshyster.com is used in "Final Interview" to send a resume, and autoeroticar.com is used in "I'll Take Her" to obtain the phone number of a target for kidnapping. The resume and contact features of the latter two sites are not usable outside of the missions in question.
The PDA is introduced in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars as an alternative to the mobile phone. As opposed to verbal communication, the player may use the device to communicate via e-mail with in-game characters and order weapons on the Internet, setting GPS waypoints, changing radio stations and trade informations in drug dealing. During gameplay in the Nintendo DS version, the PDA shows the information that would have been shown on the HUD in previous games. There is a difference of the PDA on both versions of the game, that in DS, the PDA is located at the touch screen and the PSP, the PDA is a pause menu where you can read your e-mail or link to other players using WLAN. The PDA runs BadgerOS.