Driving around the streets of San Andreas in Grand Theft Auto Online is usually done at 140 mph, outracing flying motorcycles, and listening to sweet tunes on the radio. But on a GTA Online role-playing server, life is much more tranquil. People (mostly) obey traffic laws and stop to smell the roses. They even hold parades. On the New Day role-play server, the GTA community even banded together for an in-game Pride event.
“Myself as a player, I am a LGBT youth who is not as fortunate as others,” Peacheslatoure, the parade’s organizer, told Polygon over Discord. “I use roleplay as an outlet to express who I wish I could be to the public.”
On the New Day server, Peacheslatoure takes the role of Jeb Miller, who grew up couch surfing and trailer hopping in Sandy Shores. “A lot of LGBT youth daydream about moving to big cities and finding acceptance for who they are,” he said. “I wanted my character to represent the dreams of LGBT youth and I wanted to spread awareness, especially during the special month of June.”
Peacheslatoure, through his Jeb Miller character, is part of the vibrant New Day community celebrating Pride with dances, beach parties, and the final Parade. The server’s Public Works Division even came out to set up an official route through the city, and the in-game Twitter app lit up with messages of support.
“Some people are not fortunate enough to go to a parade or celebration in real life, and I wanted to provide them with a way to celebrate through the comfort of their seats,” says Peacheslatoure.
As the organizer, Jeb stood on the front float and saw the massive parade work its way down the streets. A DJ kept some sick royalty-free jams going, and no one attacked or otherwise hindered the parade. It was a purely conflict-free event, powered by role-players coming together to collaborate on imitating a real world experience. It’s something that is only possible within the curated cultures of RP servers, and a far cry from the standard experience in one of Rockstar Games’ online open worlds.
While many of the players on these servers take the roles of cops and criminals, the spaces surrounding that basic conflict are alive with subcultures and communities. People play artists, activists, and even more mundane civilian roles.
The bonds they develop go beyond the dramatic storylines and wild plot twists of Grand Theft Auto 5 or GTA Online. “Through roleplay I have found a family who accepts me for who I am and supports me in my creative endeavors,” Peacheslatoure said.