Gamers are using San Andreas as a secure space to address grief, gambling, and addiction In a virtual world best known for its crime and violence.
It isn’t the tumbling, what commands our undivided attention from the highest of Mount Chiliad is the 360-degree views of San Andreas. Neither is it the whir of the cable cars.
At 2,619 feet above water level, our group of 5 is hanging on every word of Craig (not his real name), an unassuming Grand Theft Auto V role-player, as he shares a private tale about his mother’s alcoholism, how she was knocked down and killed as she left her local pub one evening and the way he has struggled with depression and anxiety ever since.
Contrasting with the themes of virtual violence and crime related to stealing an auto, Craig is a component of a bunch that uses the game’s long-established but still ever-growing PC role-playing scene as a secure space for discussing mental state.
“My sister and that I put it all the way down to her way of coping with the breakup, and, because she didn’t appear to be drinking within the house or at work, we didn’t notice it becoming a heavy problem,” says Craig.
Introduced on consoles in late 2013 and launched on PC in April 2015 is Grand Theft Auto V, where you can also buy modded GTA 5 account PS4. Today, despite its age, the crime simulator’s role-play scene is flourishing. Players are expected to measure as they’d within the planet and obey laws that are enforced by voluntary police and emergency service role-players successively.
I note the group’s individual player tags and comply with catch-up soon. In an exceedingly world designed to inspire theft, murder, drug dealing, and general bad behavior, there’s something beautifully incongruous about what this group is doing in San Andreas.
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Weeks pass before I spot Craig online again, this point with some familiar and a few less recognizable faces at Legion Square, the server’s meeting hub. Eventually following the train tracks that run between the Port of Los Santos and Vespucci Beach, I’m welcomed warmly, and that we walk for a long time with no obvious destination. Along the way, a person named David openly discusses his real-life gambling problems.
Christine doesn’t consider herself a junky but recognizes she’s doing more harm than good to her status and self-esteem. Just like the others, Christine’s admissions are raw, heartfelt, and relatable.
Weeks later, I rejoin the group at a house party-style get-together in a locality of South Los Santos named Strawberry.
After ages, Craig asks whether I fancy sharing anything personal of my very own and that I oblige. I’m suddenly very alert to the intimacy forged by the compact setting because the party-goers fall silent and switch their attention to me. I tell the group about my uncle’s suicide in 2008 and therefore the impact this had on my family and my mental state. I speak of how I visited Australia for a pair of years with my girlfriend to flee how I used to be feeling at the time.
I explain how it took me a year and a half to acknowledge the matter before visiting a doctor, and an additional two years to pursue counseling and a course of medication.
While I feel that mental state issues should be addressed by qualified professionals, I find the experience of relaying my innermost feelings to strangers helpful and in many ways, cathartic. As I speak, the group rallies around me with words of encouragement and gratitude, and I’m reminded that video games are uniquely placed to assist people to explore the sort of sensitive and interpersonal issues which will be hard to confront in the real world.