Communication in Grand Theft Auto refers to communication between the player and non-player characters in the game. Aside traditonal face-to-face conversations between characters, various forms of communication devices are used throughout the series.
Until the introduction of verbal 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 GTA: Vice City saw the first use of a player character who talks, and the introduction of the mobile phone as well as the obsolescence of certain modes of communications.
Public telephones were, in both GTA1 and GTA2, 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 GTA2, 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 GTA 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 GTA2 are known to do so, including El Burro, King Courtney and D-Ice (GTA III), Mr. Black (GTA: Vice City) and The Fixer (GTA IV).
The pager was 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.
The pager is noticeably absent in GTA2, but was reintroduced in GTA III for largely the same purpose as GTA1, but to a more limited extent. 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.
The introduction of the mobile phone and a verbal protagonists in GTA: Vice City rendered the pager obsolete as a slower form of communication. Only one game, GTA: Vice City Stories, saw the use of the pager as a matter of historical accuracy, assuming practical mobile phone technology in 1984 had yet to mature.
The mobile phone debuted in GTA: Vice City 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. 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 GTA: San Andreas and GTA: 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. By GTA IV, set in 2008, the mobile phone is further reduced to a palm sized device, with its top-of-the-line model supporting MP3-based ring tones and sound effects, color displays and a low-resolution camera. Text messaging (occasionally attached with images), now common in 2008, is 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 Internet, which by the 2000s has become a commonplace part of American culture, debuted in GTA III with a number of websites set in the GTA universe. But by GTA IV, the game is capable of fabricating its own Internet with around 100 websites available for access. Its purpose as a communication device in GTA IV, however, is confined to a scant number of interactive websites, as well as an e-mail service.
The Eyefind e-mail account Niko Bellic uses receives numerous e-mails from various characters, to which Niko can immediately reply to, although the replies are automatically generated by Niko and not manually typed in by the player. Most are simply present as signs of progress in the storyline, but one particular set of e-mails from Brucie Kibbutz serves to activate vehicle theft sub-missions if the player choose to reply to them.
A handful of websites are also used to receive and send information for missions, but the manner in which they may be intractable differ between websites. 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 a phone number of a target for kidnapping. The latter two sites are not usable outside the missions in question.
Three girlfriends are available for the player to find via the Internet. Two are available at love-meet.net, while one is found on craplist.net, where a link is provided to a blog with contact information.