A.I

I’m the absolute worst crime lord in all of Los Santos

I’m a fashion mogul, a state representative, and a very important person. I’m standing by the window of my office, staring out at the skyline of Los Santos and smoking a cigarette. My friend Jericho Delmonta ushers a notorious group of ruffians to sit down on my white leather couch. These are the Broker Boys, some of the most violent criminals in all of San Andreas, and I am about to hire them to put my enemies in the river for a series of deeply petty reasons.

Let’s start from the beginning. I’m a player on the New Day role-play server for Grand Theft Auto Online, which offers a much more realistic and grounded look at the criminals-versus-cop fantasy of the franchise. This is a server where you have to buckle up your seat belts, obey traffic laws, and you can go to jail for reckless driving. My character is Becks Lawson, a fashion mogul who founded the fashion magazine and lifestyle brand CLOUT, which is like Cosmo meets Vogue. I leapfrogged off that success to take a senator-style role in the fictional state of San Andreas. That’s when my life of crime began.

Image: Rockstar Games via TheSnailteef

They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely. In GTA Online, I am very good at crime. I own half a dozen expensive properties and umbrella companies, I have millions of dollars in the bank, and all of Rockstar’s NPCs treat me like a very serious criminal. But in GTA Online, you can only mess up so bad. The cops shoot you, you get a grey screen that reads WASTED, and then you go back to the status quo.

In New Day, none of that applies. You can get arrested by other players, go to trial, and end up in jail. As such, I found myself in deep water. To keep from drowning I have to keep a fictional lawyer on retainer and carefully curate my fictional tax paperwork so a fictional Major Crimes Division investigation doesn’t take me down. In my real life, I am a perfect angel who has never done a single thing wrong. In New Day, I am stewing in a melange of conspiracy and accusation, drunk on power and ego.

I dove straight into the world of petty crime by hiring the Broker Boys and instructing them to put hits on my enemies. Jericho, my friend, was able to introduce me to the lads and set up the contract. “Can I tip them?” I asked after handing over a suitcase with $25,000 inside. “No, you cannot tip your hitmen.” Jericho replied. “It’s a service industry,” I replied, and he just groaned.

Grand Theft Auto Online - a man in a grey suit and sunglasses poses thoughtfully against the scenery of Los Santos

Jericho Delmonta, who serves as a “facilitator” on New Day
Image: Rockstar Games via Polygon

Technically, I never asked them to murder anyone, just rough them up a little. But the Broker Boys roll hard, and they sent me videos of my enemies being put into cars and those cars were then hit by larger trucks and propelled into the ocean, and I laughed approvingly, so things escalated quickly.

You know how it goes, you give yourself a little freedom, and the next thing you know you’re negotiating a contract to put the head of a major media company in the river and saying lines like “Sometimes, you just can’t get things done through the proper channels.” You know, like a cool guy.

Except things backfired after my second hit. Somehow, the word got out — maybe it’s because I bragged a little bit, or maybe my maneuver of leaving flowers at my victim’s ICU bedside wasn’t as smooth as I thought. Maybe it’s because other players maintain an intelligence network. Listen, I’m not here to play the blame game. The backlash started small, with a phone call from one of the city’s most known criminals asking for $10,000. “This isn’t extortion,” he said after a long pause. It kind of felt like extortion, but I paid the ten grand regardless.

Grand Theft Auto Oline - six criminals, who are wearing masks, stand in front of a car and look incredibly tough.

The dreaded Broker Boys. (Left to right: Donny Damino, Delano “Kash” Register, Natsuko Davinchi, Owen Grady, Jeff Miller)
Image: Rockstar Games via Polygon

Then I got kidnapped by the Pillbox Cartel, a group known for their presence in the city’s drug and violence trades, and they blackmailed me for another $50,000. Then, in a follow-up meeting, I thought “hey, why not skip all this crime intrigue and try to be a little vulnerable with the Cartel’s leader, Bartholomew Harington?” So I explained my thought processes, and I believe I made some very good points, but he recorded the conversation! And then, I guess because there’s an election on and my state rep seat is contested, the tape got released and everyone knows about it. Even the police. Especially the police.

So, the fact that I did a couple of murders is an open secret in San Andreas. Did you know if someone mentions it, the wrong thing to do is say “Oh, those rumors!” and then laugh nervously for a full 20 seconds? Every day, I learn some more about how to survive in my new lifestyle.

I like to think I’ve learned from the experience. I’m out $60,000, my reputation took a hit, and I’ve had some really awkward conversations. When the tape went public, I had Becks call Jericho with deep concern. “Can I ask for a refund on my extortion fee?” I asked. “Because honestly, this isn’t fair.”

“I cannot…” There was a pause and a sigh. “No, Becks, I cannot endorse you calling a cartel boss and asking for a refund.”

That’s not even the worst of it! Have you ever told your boss, who is also the Governor, that there’s a tape going around where you allegedly confess to felonies? Or have you ever sat in an interrogation room while two detectives quiz you on each line of the tape? I don’t recommend it.

So far, I’ve been re-elected. I haven’t been arrested. My inauguration is next week, and I think I’m going to skate on all of this. I promise, I’ve walked away from this wiser and stronger. I assure you, I am no longer corrupted by power and drunk on ego. These days, I prefer the quiet life of civic leadership and an occasional whiskey before bed. I will be paying Jericho to commit all my terrible crimes in my stead, which is good, actually. When you think about it, I’m a job creator.



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