How I Learned I’m As Bad As Everyone Else In GTA Online

How I Learned I’m As Bad As Everyone Else In GTA Online

The world of GTA Online is a violent and unforgiving place. It is a realm of meaningless deadly violence — like Watford high street on a Friday night. Other players just want to shoot you or steal your stuff, or shoot you and then steal your stuff. They rampage through the city streets committing acts of unprovoked misanthropy. It is like some sort of disturbing psychological experiment – the kind of thing Stanford professors may have set up in the ’60s. But people are doing this for fun every day. People just want to kill strangers and drive their cars off cliffs. It’s human nature.

But not for me. I very much enjoy attempting to subvert the atmosphere of crass, wordless aggression that permeates Los Santos. When I see another player, I’ll approach them saluting wildly, or I’ll stop my car and hope that they get in. Usually I just get shot. Once, some guy rolled up on a motorbike and I got on and we rode through the streets in matching Ponsonbys outfits shooting at pedestrians like a hipster Bonnie and Clyde. That never happened again.

So really, every time I go on GTA Online I’m trying to capture that fleeting evening of romance and casual psychopathy. My favourite thing is to fly about in a helicopter following police car chases; if anyone crashes or gets stuck, I swoop down and land nearby. “Quick, get in the chopper,” I shout fruitlessly to the anonymous player as they seek to avoid the cops. They usually shoot me and steal the helicopter. I just shrug and restart.

Then one day *this* happened, and it finally taught me the lesson I should have learned months ago: that friendship and altruism have no place in this pitiless society of maniacs. We are all victims of our environment, and in GTA Online, that means we all become maniacs, we can’t help it. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster”, said Nietzsche. I should have listened to that guy.

So one night I was flying around, weaving in and out of skyscrapers, looking for some trouble to get into. I checked the map, and watched the white dots of other players careering through the streets.

But then far away, on the north side of Mount Chiliad, I saw one lone player, practically stationary. What were they doing out there in the rocky wilderness? Maybe they were stranded? Perhaps they had ventured out into the craggy expanse and got stuck, or they had parachuted out of a plane in a moment of panic. I had to know. I had to save them. I headed out.

It took me a few minutes to reach them. My helicopter traced the looming mountainside, moving down its peak and over the rolling slopes. I am not a good pilot so maintaining altitude and speed is always tricky; I strafe tree tops and power lines, the craft wobbled and lurched through the blackness. And then there they were, on a tiny ledge, high up a steep cliff. They were stuck. I could land and rescue them. I had Robyn’s With Every Heartbeat on the radio. I felt heroic. This was the interaction I had been waiting for: one of pure unadulterated kindness. The other person would speak of this random act with mystified fondness.

My helicopter swooped around and then approached the landing. Slowly, shakily, I was coming in for the rescue. I was so close. Robyn was singing.

How I Learned I’m As Bad As Everyone Else In GTA Online

“Maybe we could make it all right/

We could make it better sometime/

Maybe we could make it happen, baby”

And then suddenly, there was a terrible noise, like the grinding metal parts of some huge malfunctioning machine. I thought for a second that my rotor blade was hitting the cliff face, but then, I looked to my right and through the darkness I realise that, no, that’s not what was happening. There was something else out there.

And then I understood.

The other player had a helicopter – their own helicopter. They weren’t stuck, they hadn’t been abandoned out here; they had flown a chopper out and landed and now I was accidentally engaging in melee combat with it. Their beautifully parked Frogger, probably purchased with thousands of dollars’ worth of in-game cash, was being inexplicably pulverised by a mad man.

Even as I realised this, it was too late. My own inexpertly piloted vehicle was skirting sideways into its stationary twin. In one last almighty crash, the other chopper was dislodged from the rock shelf, sending it plunging into the chasm below — I think maybe on fire.

The other player did nothing — just nothing that whole time. Their avatar stood there, seemingly in shock and disbelief, watching this whole nightmarish assault take place. When my chopper reappeared over the ledge, the figure took a couple of steps back, as though readying for another vicious and unprovoked attack. I wanted to land and somehow apologise – perhaps through some sort of physical gesture – although the only one the game allows that isn’t blatantly antagonistic is a salute or a hip grind. And it didn’t feel right, to touch down, get out of the chopper and sort of go ‘yoo-hoo, cooey, over here!’ as they struggled to comprehend my actions.

Also, I was sure they were about to open fire, I mean, who wouldn’t? Here they were out on Mount Chiliad, taking in the vast digital panorama, enjoying a few moments of respite from the mindless player-on-player violence, and then out of nowhere comes a helicopter, lurching through the sky like a drunken hornet, spinning mercilessly into their craft and then reeling away. I would have shot me.

And my helicopter was a mess, smoke billowing out of the rotor, one shot would have taken it out. I panicked. I panicked and I flew away, curving right, around the mountain toward Los Santos. Below me, the flickering lights of a highway, and in the distance the security of the city, with its predictable violence and casual relationships of manually assured machine gun fire. Soon the sun would come up, and the player on the ledge would maybe leap off and parachute to safety or simply quit the game. Perhaps they would never play again.

How I Learned I’m As Bad As Everyone Else In GTA Online

But I’ll tell you what they didn’t do that fateful night on Chiliad. They never fired back. They never even pulled a gun.

The world is a violent and unforgiving place. Sometimes you just have to accept that. Sometimes you have to understand that people are just going to come along and blow up your helicopter. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do about it.


  • Loved that story.

    I also loved what R* with RDR Multiplayer. Right when you go to boot up multiplayer it gives you the choice of Friendly Fire off Session or Hardcore Session. (Might be called something else, it’s been a while, but that’s what they were).

    I know it divided the community. I don’t care. I’d rather play with friendlies PvE than PvP&E. In GTA Online at the moment you just can’t trust anyone, except your friends. I know they introduced the whole “Mental State”, but that doesn’t cut it. Since they introduced that system, I’ve never even been one bar “Mental State” and I’m still constantly put in games with the full on psychos. First thing I do when I get back to free mode after a race, mission or other job, is bank my cash on the mobile. But more than half the time the people that dropped back with you or were hanging around the spawn spots after popular mission *ahem rooftop rumble, so Madrazo’s place* just shoot you before you’ve had a chance to aim your weapon at them. Doesn’t cost you much anymore, but the sheer amount of times that happens is sad and frustrating.


    EDIT: Read Friendly fire as players rather than “friends”.

  • GTA online is only fun in small doses these days. I log on hoping to find peaceful randoms (crewmates have gone on to other things) to do silly things with, but that’s fairly rare. Going 4×4 (or 6×6 with the new Dubsta) up and down Mt Chiliad is more fun with a carful of people lol.

  • Almost makes me wanna get back in to it.

    Might pick it up on xbone eventually so my mate and I can get back in to it.

    • Yeah its best with mates or at least a crew that has the sameish play style as you. We have a crew of around 10 people that play fairly reg (3-4 times a week, more on weekends) that plays on 360, that will be moving over to x1 for more action.

      If you’re interested in playing with non griefers on x1 search for the “Bulging Sacks” crew on the social club. Mostly south Aussies, but a couple of us are interstate and even some Europeans in the mix.

  • that was an awesome read – i’d love to know what that other player was thinking at the time

    • Probably something along the lines of “Holy sh*t, wtf? Lololol OK lololol, I hope I captured that!”

  • People just want to kill strangers and drive their cars off cliffs. It’s human nature.

    I think this should be prefaced with “When given vehicles, guns and melee weaponry as the only means by which to interact with a world, people just….”

  • I swoop down and land nearby. “Quick, get in the chopper,” I shout fruitlessly to the anonymous player as they seek to avoid the cops. They usually shoot me and steal the helicopter.

    Hahaha. I could never be that kind of jerk, not even in a game. 🙂

  • Ah! So It was you that did that to me!. I was just standing here minding my own business & boom, my lovely new chopper is skanked. Serves me right for trying to have an in game sabatical. My whole family is in ruins now. The bank forclosed coz I lost my job as dodgy pilot for the Don. Its all your fault that little baby Sarah has to go without food, nappies & puppies.
    So glad it not true – I kill on sight in GTA. Only way to survive. Sux being in bad sport bin. 15 days to go. Had speight of nutters in cars with bullet proof back windows had to pwn, and coz they were personal vehicles I got bad sported. Beat Hazard has had my attention instead. Thanx CockStar, oops I mean “rockstar”,

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