Boca Raton, Florida–At Paradise Valley Adult Care Home four octogenarians prepare for the the most trying part of their day. The four are about to enter El Burro Heights, deep in Vagos gang territory, to steal a car, kill some gangbangers and escape with the car back to their dealership. Not along ago these retires would be experiencing their golden years around a television waiting for Matlock to start. These days, they building a criminal empire in Rockstar’s open world of Los Santos, playing Grand Theft Auto Online. Rockstar has created a persistent world where grandparents can get tatted up, pull of an armored van job, and collect bounties.
The Grand Theft Auto Online game is built upon the game play of Grand Theft Auto V, and is constantly expanding. Recently, Rockstar added a series of stunt races where players can earn money, awesome cars and gain reputation. The makers are constantly adding cars, weapons, missions, and properties a game player can own.
“With these old legs I could never chase after a peek-a-chez, but with a few anti-inflamatorys my arthritic fingers can still put a few caps in these weak bitches.” says Beth Tamrazian, a former hospitality worker from Miami. Her crew recently stole a trailer with the cargo of an electromagnetic weapon. Beth took out a few security guards with a baseball bat while the rest of her crew found a truck to hitch the trailer onto. “It got a little hairy on the way back to the warehouse,” Beth explains. “Gurt can’t hear so good–even with her headset turned all the way up. And with those coke bottles over her eyes she ain’t too fit to drive the getaway or take out the chase cars. Gurt’s getting a little tightfisted about springing for a new 4K TV.” After looking around, Beth says in a whisper, “We may have to clip her and bring in a warmer body.”
Carlos Rivera, registered nurse and owner of Paradise Valley, says that he has had to change his whole marketing strategy to account for the game play. “My customers used to care about bingo night and friendly staff. Now its all about broadband and the health of the gamer community.” When asked if it presented any problems for him, “We had a group playing Diablo and while back, dios mio, I had to move them out. I can’t get a reputation for witchcraft in my homes.” Some of the behavior from Los Santos has spilled over into the home’s regular activities. “One group was throwing gang signs in the hallways. Another group was taxing heart medication from the other patients and reselling it on the side. The rec room has been divided up by the crews, and neutrals get hassled. My nurses are getting a lot more lip.” Rivera stops suddenly, looking around as if afraid to speak ill of GTA. “One old gringa was giving out tattoos in her room for the different crews using a sewing needle and ink from a ballpoint pen. I tried to shut it down. But its a draw, I’ve never been this full. As soon as one croaks, the crews recruit new members from other care homes. It’s good for business.”
“It gives me something to live for, to kill for: reputation, cars, bitches. My grandkids are assholes. They never visit.” Says Maria Velasquez, 86 year-old former shipping manager, through an interpreter. “I may move to Palm Groove. The lag here is killing me.”
Grand Theft Auto Online is available on XboxOne, PS4, Windows computers and may give you a reason to live.