Grand Theft Auto may satirise Los Angeles and the American Dream, but its roots, and a host of in-jokes, were all made in Scotland. This week marked the much-hyped return of the best-selling, perennially controversial video game, and it has taken $1bn in just three days.
The series – which has run to 10 standalone games, has taken players through the streets of New York, Miami and now LA, yet emerged out of Dundee and is now developed by the Edinburgh-based Rockstar North. GTA V, which proudly features the Saltire flying from beachside buildings – has already caused consternation in Scotland among the councillors of a Hawick, whose name is used for GTA V’s drug district.
The references throughout the series range from iconic landmarks to Scottish bands – and even Glasgow comedian Frankie Boyle. There are a host of phrases that would leave those in the US scratching their head including “CU JMY” on cargo crates, and a pub called the Ming Inn. The stock exchange has become the Bawsaq – an innuendo-laden reference to Nasdaq – and words such as Fud, which shall not be explained here, are strewn throughout. Football is a big influence.
Number plates and horses reference Rangers and Celtic players, while two warring gangs sport the exact colours of the rival Edinburgh teams – Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian.
In GTA IV, a five-star hotel is named after Celtic FC. The club is also name-checked in number plates and a sign saying “est. 1888”
The picturesque golf course in GTA Vice City plays on the name of Leith Links, an historic park in Edinburgh, where the developers Rockstar North are based
A councillor for the Borders town is furious its name is used as a ‘hipster druggie’ district of Los Santos. David Paterson asked: ‘Why did they pick on Hawick?’ adding it might be seen in a bad light.
Number plate reference to the former Rangers and Italy defender Lorenzo Amoruso, who played for the club from 1997-2003
The railway bridge appears in GTA San Andreas, an almost exact copy of the Forth Bridge outside Edinburgh. The name could also be a reference to Kincardine, a town that lies 10 miles west of the Forth Bridge.
Celtic’s greatest rivals also get numberplate shoutouts
Licence plates were introduced in GTA III, with many Scots references
The nickname of the former Rangers star also gets a plate
As the Forth Road Bridge runs alongside the Forth Bridge, the Garver Bridge runs alongside the Kincaid Bridge in GTA San Andreas. It is also meant to emulate the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, with respect to where it is placed in the city.
The latest version of Grand Theft Auto is even more overt in its references to Scotland, with a Saltire proudly flying above a beach house overlooking the fictional Vespucci beach, which mimics Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
The Sundae Post
The ice cream parlour in the latest game is a nod to ‘The Sunday Post’, a weekly newspaper in Dundee.
The name of a horse at GTA San Andreas bookies, a reference to Celtic striker Henrik Larsson, who broke his jaw in a game against Livingstone in 2003