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GTA Online’s green and purple alien war is taking over the internet

Whoever wins, we lose

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Grand Theft Auto Online - a character previews the green alien body suit Rockstar Games via Polygon
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

A new trend is sweeping TikTok and Instagram, and it comes from an unexpected source. You may have seen people declaring allegiances to purple or green ‘gangs,’ or seen bands of aliens engaging in fistfights and rocket battles. The footage originates from Grand Theft Auto Online, which has suddenly erupted into an all-out war between purple aliens, green aliens, and the terrified remnants of humanity.

The green and purple alien war is now escalating and going increasingly viral, with players sharing footage of their in-game brawls on social media. “Green vs purple” and “alien gang war” are both popular topics on YouTube and TikTok, and hundreds of thousands of fans are watching clips of aliens brawling in parking lots and hitting each other with sports cars. Players are making TikTok accounts specifically to catalog this alien war, and they’re racking up tens of thousands of followers.

GTA Online is an open-world MMO within Grand Theft Auto 5 that gives players a ton of freedom, including the ability to join clans. Fans also congregate in Discords and Twitter circles in order to plan events, activities, and get-togethers. This, in turn, has led to “roleplay” groups, where fans collectively tell stories in the game by acting out roles in situations like biker gangs, law enforcement, and even presidential elections. One such role-play group dresses up in full-body suits to look like green aliens, and they’ve been at it for a while now, with reports dating back at least a year of them taking over random lobbies and engaging in shenanigans.

But recently, the green alien joke has evolved to encompass in-game rivals who wear the purple variant of the suit, causing the rest of the player base to react and get in on the action. According to a TikTok commentator named nekoztek who follows GTA Online, the entrenched green alien group has 14.2 million players, and the newer purple alien gang has 7.2 million members.

The green aliens started out as — and have remained — agents of chaos, picking a fight with everyone they can. Some purple aliens have positioned themselves as protectors of humanity; others are simply looking to fight back against their green-clad colleagues. It’s utter madness, but it’s amazing to watch from an outside perspective. If you’ve seen people sharing memes about “purple v green,” even without aliens involved, it probably comes from this current gang war.

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You knew it was coming... #purplevsgreen #greenvspurple

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While the alien wars rage on, GTA Online role-players are also inserting themselves into the action as reporters, loose-cannon cops with nothing to lose, and military experts trying to save their planet from the invasion.

It seems like this wild war was kicked off by a perfect storm of events — quarantine, the U.S. Department of Defense releasing UFO footage, and an existing movement of green aliens within the game. The end result is chaotic, but also one of the most interesting things to happen in Grand Theft Auto Online in some time. Players who log in should beware; you might find your car hijacked by an extraterrestrial threat. However, it also seems quite easy to get in on the action — just be ready to either defend Earth, or suit up to invade it.

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