Communication in Grand Theft Auto refers to communication between the player and non-player characters in the game.
Aside from traditional face-to-face conversations between characters, various forms of communication devices are used throughout the series.
Until the introduction of speaking protagonists, communication between the player and other characters in the game was 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 subsequent games brought about the obsolescence of certain modes of communications.
Public telephones, also known as payphones or phone booths, 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, primarily intending to remain unseen and anonymous, including El Burro, King Courtney, and D-Ice (Marty Chonks is seen briefly in Her Lover) from GTA III, Mr. Black from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, The Fixer from Grand Theft Auto IV and Lester Crest from Grand Theft Auto V.
The pager, also known as the beeper, is another communication device that debuted in the first Grand Theft Auto. 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 features prominently in the GTA London mission packs. This creates a minor prochronism as the first successful consumer pager was released in 1974, with the London games being set in the 1960s. 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. A pager-like device appears in Grand Theft Auto 2, but is only used as a countdown timer and tally counter during Kill Frenzies, and 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 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 also features a pager as a means of communication to the protagonist.
The introduction of a verbal protagonist in Vice City results in the pager being replaced by the mobile phone, a feature carried over to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The pager returns in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (set in 1984, two years before the events of Vice City), as mobile communication was still in its infancy.
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. In the GTA London games, two-way communication is achieved in the form of walkie-talkies.
The mobile phone would not reappear in the series again until GTA Vice City, where it appears as a large, bulky device. 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, with the device assuming a contemporary design in subsequent games. 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 SA rendition of the device, and the GTA LCS rendition depicted as a clamshell phone. By Grand Theft Auto IV, mobile phone usage has been expanded. For the first time in the series, the player can initiate phone calls and send text messages to other characters.
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 (e.g., emails praising the player for completing a mission), build on a character's background (e.g., emails from Niko's mother), or promote in-game features (e.g., Brucie Kibbutz emailing Niko about vipluxuryringtones.com). The player also periodically receives spam emails, which they cannot reply to.
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 Internet also returns in Grand Theft Auto V, where it can now be used to check bank accounts and purchase vehicles and stocks.
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 the player can check their emails using WLAN. The PDA runs BadgerOS software.