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GTA role-players’ first state election nearly went off the rails

Corruption, cocaine, and crisis

GTA Online - a role-play server’s city hall entrance Image: Rockstar North/Rockstar Games via New Day RP

In the New Day roleplay server of Grand Theft Auto Online, people take things like civil government very seriously. The race to select a new governor was tough. In one corner, there was Charlie Bradstock, the heir to a big arms company, who naively figured he could use his business experience to run a state and sell his goods at the same time. His opponent was Andrew McKinley, the ambitious Chief Justice who swore to overhaul the criminal code and improve security.

New Day is a relatively new server that focuses on relatively serious stories. The prestigious position of governor allows a character to weigh in on which server features and policies are brought before the legislature. But May’s first election for the government of San Andreas quickly turned into a weekend-long crisis of accusations, heated press conferences, and protests outside City Hall and the police department.

Which, of course, is exactly what New Day’s RPers wanted, because it was all juicy drama that could be mined for great role-play content.

Funnily enough, imafaketeddy — the gentleman playing Charlie Bradstock — signed his character up to run as a bit of an out of character joke. “I figured it’d be a bit of fun, and I’d either have something interesting to do for the next four months, or I’d use the contacts I’d made to get some business going within the state,” he told Polygon over Discord.

Then the arrest happened, and everything went straight to hell.

GTA Online - a player has left the message “FUCK THE GOVERNMENT” over the sigil of City Hall Image: Rockstar Games via New Day RP

An in-game, player-controlled reporter named Travis Ray snapped a scene on the side of the highway. Bradstock was being arrested, on election day, with charges of battery. He pled no contest, and served time in Bolingbrook. Ray’s scoop had the public faux-infuriated, and things only got worse after a game press conference. A Los Santos Police Department representative wouldn’t confirm whether they would have told the public about the arrest at all, and he was met by incredulous shouts and jeers.

While Bradstock was imprisoned, the server rallied. The phone function on New Day has a functional Twitter app that simulates the real life platform, and it was blown up with accusations of conspiracy, corruption, and government control. People posted #FreeBradstock hashtags, called the police out, and relentlessly shitposted. (In other words, it’s just like real Twitter.) Some people even thought McKinley was behind it all.

The role-played press conference was followed by role-played protests, and details of Bradstock’s arrest trickled out. Apparently the charges were made by Bradstock’s ex-wife, and they included accusations of battery and possession of foodstuffs laced with cocaine. Bradstock would later prove these allegations false in court, but they were salacious enough that they were wrapped into the rumor mill with everything else. Even characters who live in Sandy Shores and Paleto Bay heard about the drama, albeit through a game of telephone with the details skewed with each retelling.

GTA Online - Charlie Bradstock, in a pastel pink and purple suit, poses at an in-game museum event
Charlie Bradstock at a post-election social event.
Image: Rockstar Games via New Day RP

From the outside, it looks almost like a planned event that a Dungeon Master would carefully plot out and run for participating players. In reality, it was a totally uh-oh spaghetti-o’s series of decisions that ended up igniting Los Santos. People speculated on Bradstock’s marriage and McKinley’s possible corruption. Intriguing! That sort of drama is role-play catnip.

“As far as the campaign went, I fought a pretty clean campaign. Sorry to spoil it, but I had no involvement in the Bradstock misfortune despite what the rumor mill said!” McKinley’s player R3ID wrote to Polygon over Discord. In fact, the Chief Justice recused himself from the case while the drama played out in Los Santos. He’s pleased with the decision overall. “It’s been a good journey for my character!”

The campaigns are now done and dusted. McKinley won the votes, fair and square, and Bradstock has ridden the wave of public support to new business ventures.

There’s always a story to find in Los Santos, especially when people are pulling off some Coen Brothers style hijinks on election day.

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