For eight years, the endless Looney Tunes hyperviolence of Grand Theft Auto V has kept it one of the most popular games on the market. But in our currently closed-off world, the most transgressive thing players desire in GTA is no longer killing pedestrians or bludgeoning cops but getting in a car with their friends and visiting a bar.
While Grand Theft Auto Roleplay has been around since 2019, the community has seen a veritable boom during lockdown times. Today, regular gamers and dozens of well-known streamers roam around private GTA V roleplaying servers such as NoPixel or Eclipse RP. Because of this, GTA RP has become one of the most popular pastimes on Twitch, with streams garnering as much as 400,000 viewers at one time.
But roleplaying in GTA V isn't about Hot Coffee sexiness or rolling dice to see how much damage your missile launcher does to a hotdog vendor. GTA RP servers are heavily modded to make Los Santos behave as realistically as possible -- and players are expected to do the same. That means, antithetical to everything GTA normally stands for, pretending like their actions have actual consequences, like obeying traffic rules and fearing for your life when someone pulls out a Kalashnikov. And whether you're a rando or celebrity, failing to conform can have serious consequences. Break the rules as your character, and you can wind up perma-dead or in prison. Break the rules and a player, like by exploiting a glitch to smuggle a gun into prison, and you'll face serious bans.
That being said, since this is Grand Theft Auto, a lot of players still choose to play some kind of criminal, spending less time shooting up places like some trailer park tweaker and more planning heists like they're auditioning for a community theater performance of Heat. But many others choose to take the 9-to-5 path of the old world, joining the police force (whose antics look less like the GTA-version of The Wire than Reno 911) or even eking out a living as a nurse, postal worker, influencer, or freelance journalist. Many take their roleplaying jobs so seriously they turn into full-time commitments, with one streamer recently quitting the game because the stress of being a full-time GTA-restaurant manager was becoming too much.
But the hardest thing about GTA RP isn't staying in character; it's getting to play one to begin with. Because GTA 5 is known for hosting more trolls than a bridge convention, most servers require new players to prove their dedication in several ways, from making donations to filling in elaborate forms to even spending time on a trial server to prove that they can pass the Asshole-Kampff test. If you're willing to commit that much to lead a Second Life in Los Santos, better start applying for a character now. I'm still waiting on server approval for my hyperrealistic GTA character: a Yugoslavian dude who constantly calls other players to ask if they want to go bowling.
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Top Image: Rockstar Games