On any given day, I usually unwind from a long day at work by logging into Grand Theft Auto (GTA) Online. I use my avatar and beautiful sports cars to drive around the imaginary Los Santos, a city based almost entirely on Los Angeles and the outlying communities. It is one of my “safe” spaces (although the use of that word is offset by the nature of the game to achieve a gangster’s paradise) that I can spend time virtually without having to worry about driving on a real road and facing real danger with other humans.
The first night of quarantine, before all the dust of the current situation was able to settle, I logged into the game, rode my flying motorcycle, the Oppressor MK-2, all the way to the digital Santa Monica Pier, and for the first time, I just had my character float on her back in the Pacific Ocean while staring up at the night sky with the city skyline in the background.
Time passes and life from before the quarantine begins to change.
I logged into the game a few days later and I noticed that more characters were seen wearing face masks, protective head masks, or costume masks more than ever before. The game had already started to adopt the new dress codes of the times.
Now, the world map of GTA Online has taken on a new meaning. While it is suggested that we are supposed to stay indoors, Grand Theft Auto Online has become a way for me to simulate an experience in the outside world. I now play whenever I miss being in a big city in real life. I now use the online platform as a way to socialize and talk to other humans on a headset device. The last time I logged on a few nights ago, all other in-game players were wearing face masks. I walked up to a random player and instead of being afraid that other users were going to be violent, we made simple hand gestures to say hello to one another.
Life has changed (for the time being), but it is so funny to see how that is reflected in video games.
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kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, May 11, 2020
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