RPing – or roleplaying as it’s known to us plebs – is nothing new on Twitch. It’s nothing new in the world of video games in fact, and as long as you have an open-world, mod support (that’s optional, but it helps), a hell of a lot of freedom and an online component, there’s a good chance that there’s people out there turning stale video game worlds into brand new immersive experiences. The world of RP has been taken to a whole new level in 2017, though, with the emergence of a Grand Theft Auto V RP mod, FiveRP, that’s taking the world by storm, making the game relevant again on Twitch, and pulling in thousands upon thousands of viewers each and every day.
The concept of RP is simple: take an online world, make yourself a character, give yourself a background, and then jump into the world and let the stories commence. In FiveRP there’s plenty of stuff for people to do, whether that’s driving cabs for money – picking up other RPers who need a ride – driving cargo around Los Santos, doing illegal drug runs and more. Players can earn money to buy cars, properties or whatever through any means they deem necessary. They’re limited only by their imaginations.
It’s the characters in these worlds – GTA 5 RP's especially – that make them so fascinating, and the stories that unfold in front of your eyes are all engrossing, to say the least. I've become addicted to these stories on Twitch recently, and seemingly, looking at the number of people watching it on Twitch every night, so has a significant portion of the internet.
The mysterious whitelisted world states on the State of Emergency servers have recently become all the rage on Twitch, with huge streamers, like Lirik and GiantWaffle, and avid RPers combining to provide hours and hours of entertainment for the masses. The wide range of characters with complex back stories and ever-evolving storylines is what makes GTA V RP such a captivating watch. Like in your favourite crime dramas, it’s the characters that make the show and that, right there, is GTA V RP in a nutshell.
It’s Serious Business
I know what you’re thinking… streamers streaming their online personas? Surely that’s a recipe for disaster, with 'stream snipers' turning up in games to deliberately target the streamer, or the RPers using other people’s streams and YouTube videos to fill in parts of the story they have no right knowing – AKA 'ruining the meta'. Well, you’d be surprised. For one, stream snipers aren’t really a thing due to the low population of the servers (24 at any one time), the secrecy around them (that shit is kept locked down!) and the fact that you have to have dozens of hours of RPing under your belt to pass the test and get promoted to the place to be. It’s all very illuminati, but for a very good reason.
As for the meta: the server owners, the devs and the admins – heck, even the RPers themselves – take that shit super seriously. Under no circumstances must the meta of the world be broken. Players can only be aware of what has happened to them in-game or through in-game word of mouth, and streamers and RPers will actively go out of their way to avoid anything that would bring the server into disrepute. It’s so serious that not adhering to the rules can result in a perma-ban from the promised land, and streamers are quick to shut down their chat when people don’t take the sanctity of it seriously. When in character and in the world of Grand Theft Auto 5 RP, players must be their character. They must become them, for all intents and purposes. Players can even be punished for communicating outside the in-game tools, for instance, and players often blame in-game “headaches” and in-game natural disasters for glitches and server issues that arise. The commitment is all rather commendable.
Aside from the meta, the rules on the server are incredibly strict and rigidly enforced too, all for the good of the world and its integrity. These guys and girls are so committed that they weave elaborate relationships and backstories into their characters to make them more believable. From the cops, who have to act like proper cops who know the genuine police 10 codes (I now know a 10-38 means that the officer is stopping a suspicious vehicle), to the criminals, who can’t just troll for shits and giggles, and everyone in-between, everyone has their part to play and if they step outside of the rules of the server, it’s the banhammer for them.
On the digital streets of Los Santos, there’s protocol to be followed. Adhering to the rules of the real-life world, players can be pulled over for a broken tail-light, for jaywalking, and, should the crime be severe enough, be read their Miranda rights, taken to holding, and then transferred to the state prison to serve actual time, which can range from 5-minutes to whatever the police officer feels like. I’ve seen a 3-hour sentence issued and served, but have heard about someone doing a 7-hour stretch! The commitment is real! From an outside perspective, it can seem over-the-top and ruthless, but without consequence, there is no element of danger and no sense of accomplishment.
The Main Players
Like every good crime drama, the show is only as good as its characters, and GTA V SOE’s servers have some incredibly well-conceived characters, each of whom have their own unique place in the world. The characters range from young to old, human to cyborg and are from all different walks of life… and all kinds of different temperaments!
You have characters who are looking to make an honest buck, like Zoe and her taxi firm (as played by Zaquelle); you have confused elderly veteran turned slightly insane cabbie, Slappy McGaffy (as played by Thadrius); the totally unhinged and could-flip-at-any-minute British gentleman, Reginald Bigglesby (as played by SirPinkleton00); the sociopathic Asian hooker, Jack (as played by Strippin); the sentient android who thinks he’s a human, Mike Rosoftsam (as played by Mythematic); the hilarious and crazy Bubbles (as played by LoveJayLee), and so many more. I could literally sit here and name zany characters all day long, but alas, I won’t, as the best is yet to come.
The adventures of the Dankweed brothers, Dante (GiantWaffle) and Shaggy (Timmac), and Shaggy’s girlfriend, the absolutely nuts Ella Stone (PmsProxy), have been entertaining thousands upon thousands of viewers constantly for the past few months. The never-know-what-you’re-going-to-get trio are jumping from rooftops into swimming pools one minute and shanking snitches in parking lots the next. While the brothers themselves seem to be rather cool, calm and collected, combined with the psychotic Stone the three get themselves involved in an incredible amount of sticky situations.
But the main draw, and the one that has captured the masses thus far, has to be the drama involving the self-proclaimed 'Lean Bois' gang, named for… well, you know, leaning on everything, and sometimes nothing – done in-game with a simple emote.
The five-strong Mafioso group is led by one of Twitch’s biggest streamers, Lirik, who plays Avonn Barksdale, a guy from the wrong side of the tracks with a really short-temper. They've been turning heads all around the net in the past month. The Lean Bois, like the rest of the SOE servers, are a mixed bag, each character with a distinctive role to play and a voice to add to the ever-growing narrative. Barksdale’s number two, Tony Corleone (played by AnthonyZ_), the proprietor of Tony’s Spaghetti, is a man who has a guy for everything: a guy who can get things done. Then there’s Buddha Lang (played by The Buddha3), a sentimental but absolutely fucking nuts Asian guy with a thirst for danger. Next up is a personal favourite of mine, Bob Coolidge (as played by CoolidgeHD), a smooth-talking psychopath whose loyalty to the Lean Bois and his brothers in arms cannot be questioned. And last but by no means least, there’s Al Saab (played by Ssaab), the nice guy who’s been pulled into a questionable group, but because they make him feel like he belongs he does everything he can to appease his brothers from different mothers, even if it means jumping head first into a life of crime.
The role of this group is simple: make money by any means possible and upset the status quo of the world, whether that’s posing as taxi drivers and robbing unsuspecting customers at gunpoint, doing drug runs, robbing banks, or just straight up scamming people. This, however, has got them into some tricky situations, which has led to them making enemies, and rather quickly. One of their rivals, known on the streets as 'Surfer Dude' (played by GhillieGuyTV) has gotten a reputation for being a snitch recently. As the Lean Bois say, 'Snitches get stitches'… or in their case 'Snitches get kidnapped, taken to a slaughterhouse, incapacitated with a pistol and then set on fire.' Yes, that actually happened. Their antics have made them Los Santos’ public enemy number one and their list of rivals grows larger by the day – all those that oppose them and snitch get dubbed 'Snitch Bois'.
A recent altercation started with a road traffic accident with an 'American flag shirt wearing piece of shit' (played by Joe Gallenhart), and escalated into a full blown gang war – it’s like an episode of the frickin’ Wire! A car accident turned into a cop chase, which turned into a shootout, which in turn saw Avonn go to prison. After serving a 45 month stint in prison (AKA 45 minutes), he stumbled into some unsavoury guests on his release who kidnapped him, took him into the wilderness then stabbed him and left him for dead in a river. In typical Mafia-movie style, the two gangs decided to meet – at a construction site of all places – to clear the air, but as you can imagine, things went south really quickly and the Lean Bois found themselves ambushed. The best part about all of this is that it’s done on the fly. Role-played without a script. And the unpredictability of it all only adds to the spectacle.
The Star of the Show
With so many big players in the world of Los Santos being degenerates, there needs to be consequences for every time they break the law. There needs to be an element of danger. There needs to be the strong arm of the law.
That, ladies and gents, is where the Sheriffs of Los Santos come in, and while the majority of the Sheriffs are wonderful and add to the RP, it’s none other than Eli Thompson, as Trooper Thompson, who is the star of the show - a man who has over 40,000 followers on Twitch without even doing a stream yet!
Trooper Thompson, as he demands to be called by the inhabitants of Los Santos, is a quick-witted, wise-cracking, silver-tongued Sheriff known for such incredible quick replies as 'I’m deadly fucking serious. I’m as serious as ten back-to-back heart attacks,' or, my personal favourite, 'Here we follow the letter of the goddamn law. Law and order is what goes around here, boy, and the way we spell law is E-L-fucking-I!'
The inhabitants of Los Santos fear him. The streamers dare not fuck with him. He is the glue that holds the RP together. Too many criminals on the server, with no fear of the repercussions of their actions, would ultimately end in anarchy, and the reason the server is such a success story on Twitch and all over the internet is because of how it is policed. Eli makes the calls, along with the other admins both on and off the field of play. Without their commitment to the RP, it’d all fall apart pretty quickly.
The best part about Eli Thompson is quite clearly that he walks the walk and talks the talk. Rumour has it that he himself is a former police officer, so he’s familiar with procedure, with the statutes and the protocols that come with the territory of being a genuine bona-fide officer of the law. If that’s not true, well, he sure fooled us! Thompson strikes fear into the residents of Los Santos, and while all might flee him once in a while, he always has the last laugh. As far as RPers go, Eli Thompson is a fucking legend. Just take a look at some of his best bits.
All The World’s A Stage
When Shakespeare said that 'All the world’s a stage,' I’m not quite sure this is what he had in mind, but you know what? Who the hell cares what Shakespeare thinks, he was basically a Brummie.
While the characters certainly make up the show, the stories they conceive and the freeforming plots that arise are quite clearly the draw. Aside from the aforementioned Lean Bois drama, there have been so many incredible standout moments, most of which are completely unrehearsed and wholly natural.
When they’re not causing havoc around Los Santos and creating rivalries with one another, the inhabitants of the SOE servers go on bike rides, put on races for cash, do open mic nights, do car contests, go to house parties and so much more. And each event seems to throw up its own little highlight. Its own little piece of drama. There are some that words just won’t do justice, like this here spontaneous rap about a banana at a house party by TVSBOH:
You’ve also got the more rehearsed, prepared, but equally impressive rap from Dante Dankeweed (AKA GiantWaffle):
Then, there’s the time that Slappy McGaffy, at the tender age of 79, after a series of Vietnam-esque flashbacks, decided he wanted to try parkour and become a YouTube star:
It’s captivated the masses so much that fans have created tons of content, like this excellent trailer from ElementNine:
To this incredible fan art from Danusko Campos:
Grand Theft Auto V RP, thanks to the wonderful world of Twitch, is like reality TV without limits. It’s a celebration of improv. It’s what creative individuals can do if they put their minds together. It’s what the internet was made for. The best is surely yet to come as well, with the devs working on a whole new mod with more and more options, that will certainly open up more possibilities, and more importantly, even more completely gripping stories.
If you’re interested in checking out the GTA V RP thug life, head on over to the Twitch GTA V sub domain, I guarantee all the top 10 GTA V channels on there are RPers. Whatever the time, whatever the day, there’s always sure to be drama.