For many of us, video games are an escape from the daily bullshit of the real world. Sure, a large number of games are inherently political (as Far Cry 6 had to point out to fans earlier this week), but generally speaking, they offer some sort of escapism. But not in the New Day roleplaying server on Grand Theft Auto Online, where last month’s election proved to be almost as serious as a real-world election.
For those unfamiliar with the server, New Day is a new-ish server for the roleplaying community that centres around a bunch of serious, real world stories. Like IRL, the players vote on particular issues, form government and reserve the right to protest.
Last month, the server held its first election for the prestigious position of San Andreas governor. And as Polygon reported, things didn’t go too smoothly.
The election was between arms dealer heir Charlie Bradstock, who wanted to run the state and his company simultaneously, and Chief Justice Andrew McKinley, who wanted to fix the criminal justice system.
As was the case with the 2020 Presidential Election, the lead up to the election was filled with angry press conferences, protests and drama.
But then everything went south when Charlie Bradstock was arrested for battery, which I assume is a very normal thing to happen on election day in San Andreas.
Much like IRL, the arrest became a viral talking point for in-game civilians, who quickly spun conspiracy theories, accused McKinley of being behind it and obviously, shit-posted to oblivion about it.
Eventually, Bradstock was able to prove that the allegations against him were false and concocted by his estranged ex-wife, in what feels like some sort of real life scandal.
Basically, she falsely accused him of battery as well as some hefty cocaine-related charges and got him arrested on what he hoped to be his special day. Honestly, you have to admire her dedication to pettiness here.
Despite this, McKinley ended up winning the election by a landslide, but Bradstock ended up winning some brownie points for his business in the process.
— New Day RP (@New_Day_RP) May 11, 2021
You can read more about McKinley’s win in the official press release (which is a very real thing).
But the most interesting part of it all was that the whole saga wasn’t pre-planned. This literally just happened by chance.
“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,” the user behind Bradstock told Polygon.
Honestly, you have to admire the dedication to roleplaying here. Until today I was unaware of just how intense the political maelstroms of Grand Theft Auto Online roleplaying communities could be, but here we are.