For years, maybe since the dawn of the internet itself, TV lovers, gamers and sometimes even music fanatics have tried to channel whatever media it is that they feel so devoted to. To tap into the minds and hearts of characters they feel so attached to. Imagine taking it a step further, and stepping into the digital shoes of a specific character you on some level connect to. This is what happens when you enter the world of role-play. Assuming the 'role' of a fictional character, or perhaps an exaggerated incarnation of a real one.
If you have ever played Grand Theft Auto V, you will be familiar with it's open-world environment complete with sprawling urban areas, rural deserts and rolling hills that give way to thriving green forests. GTA is so diverse, runs so deep into a world completely parallel to our own, it's easy to see how so many fans have created fictitious versions of themselves online.
Several role-players take the parts of the single-player characters such as the three protagonists: Franklin, Michael and Trevor, as well as the supporting cast who surround them in-game.
However, multiplayer component GTA Online provides the perfect starting point for any would-be role player. In GTAO you can tailor your in game character's appearance to suit your visualisation of a particular character online.
Real-life apps such as iFruit- an app based on the game's parody of Apple-allow you to access snaps you may have taken in the game through the Rockstar Games Social Club, which connects players using crews and occasional competitions.
The idea of role play is simple: to replicate the community that already exists in one type of medium and recreate it in another. But with grand Theft Auto, the unique and rare opportunity is there to not only recreate this community but also add to it. Recently, a friend of mine and fellow noted role player launched an application on the Google Play Store, based on the premise of role play called 'Los Santos Weekly Slammer' I will leave a link to it below.
Players can use the building blocks given to them in GTA Online to transform their characters into something more than ruthless bankrobbers and serial killers. Social media is a major platform effectively used to unite role-playing communities and websites such as Twitter and Facebook (parodied in GTA V as Bleeter and Lifeinvader respectively) have served as vital tools to help form these communities.
However Facebook's 'real name' policy has been known to impede this progress if a character grows too popular and is reviewed by Facebook's staff. In stark contrast to this, Twitter has become something of a haven for new role players. Internet forums and other services built especially for the purpose of role playing have also been established but mainly overlooked by the wider community in favour of bigger companies such as FB and Twitter etc.
In summary, nothing about role play is new. It has, in various formats, been around for centuries (most notably, 'acting') and will likely continue for centuries more. Though something rooted deep in the communal spirit of the GTA 'fandom' particularly makes ours an exceptional family of role players to join.