I Accidentally Catfished Someone In Grand Theft Auto Last Night

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 02:00 PM

(Rockstar Games)

I’ve been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto V online lately. My handle is TheSilverWoman, which is a reference to my co-worker Alex Goldman’s last name. In real life, I’m a boringly normal straight dude. But in GTA, I’m a forty-year old woman. Dark bangs, dark eyes. I don’t wear makeup and I’m not particularly fit. I own one set of clothes plus a monkey mask I wear when I rob convenience stores.

People react to women, even fake women, in online video games. Computer-controlled characters will try to flirt with me. Characters controlled by actual people tend to be kind of hateful. “That bitch just stole my Elegy FX.” “Oh shit, even the fuckin’ Silver Woman has more kills than you, man.”

Last night something unusual happened. I’d been playing in survival mode with a group of players. That’s a cooperative mode where you team up to fight waves of computer controlled enemies. After the mission, the game dumped us back into Freemode, which allows you to roam around the city aimlessly, causing whatever mayhem you want.

I put in a friend request to the best player from the previous mission, a guy named ProX, so that we could play more missions together later. He sent me a message back: “what’s your name.”

“PJ.” I answered, remembering for the first time in awhile that I have a gender neutral name. “What’s yours?”

“kevin.”

At that point, I saw a player who had been annoying me by playing selfishly in cooperative mode. So, I murdered him. He died, but when he respawned, he was very angry. He pursued me. I shot at him and missed, and worse, my missed shot attracted the police. I started sprinting down the highway, waiting to die.

And then, out of nowhere, a horn honked. I turned. It was ProX, sitting calmly in a black sports car on the side of the highway. He honked again. I was supposed to get in. I got in. We sped off, away from the police and my would-be murderer.

ProX drove me to an airfield and showed me a military helicopter I’d never seen before. The police were still chasing us. We left his car and flew off towards the sunset and the Pacific Ocean, out of the law’s reach.

This is the point where I realized that maybe, perhaps, I was on a date. Players in GTA rarely cooperate, with the exception of those situations where the game makes it literally impossible not to. ProX had saved me from death or arrest. And now he was peacocking, flying the helicopter low over the Pacific Ocean, and then threading it through the mountains around GTA’s version of Los Angeles.

In the city, he flew me down a crowded street where I gleefully fired missiles at other players and cops. He was a good pilot and I was a decent shot. We Bonnie and Clyded together for quite awhile. Surprisingly, I felt taken care of. My mind sincerely wandered toward the idea that a lot of relationships are founded on projection and misunderstanding.

Eventually, the cops caught up to us, like they always do. They shot ProX first. I tried to kill myself rather than let them take me alive, but GTA’s suicide option is buried in a clunky menu, and a SWAT guy shotgunned me in the torso before I had the chance.

When I respawned outside of the hospital, ProX picked me up again, but it had gotten late and I realized I should go to bed. It felt strange to just sign off without thanking him. So I navigated over to the chat menu while he drove around. “Thanks for all the mayhem. I’m going to sleep.” I sent it, and closed the chat window.

In the meantime, he had somehow driven me into his apartment. When the chat window closed, I found myself standing in his eight car garage, a sea of very nice cars. He was standing between two of them looking very lonely. I felt real and palpable feelings of anxiety and guilt. A message came back in chat. “ok.” It seemed very sad. I powered down the PS3, feeling like a tease.

It’s funny. Thinking back on it today, I’m not sure what else could have really happened in that apartment. People love GTA because it’s a game that theoretically lets you do anything. But when it comes to human connection, the game’s strict. You can’t sleep with another player, or kiss them, or cook something for them. There are the people you murder and the people you choose not to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edit: Hi, Reddit! We're noticing a lot of traffic coming from you guys. Thanks for reading and I hope you like it. If you're into this, check out some of the stories On the Media has done about gaming, and also check out the TLDR podcast hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman (AKA The Silver Woman).

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Comments [25]

John

"Silver Woman" Hilarious.

I find it strangely reassuring that you play GTA.

Apr. 06 2014 04:59 PM
Grey from Houston

Thinking about the first part of the article, the one which discussed people's sometimes weird reactions to a female character....

Mary from Long Island said, "...that's the beautiful thing about the internet, we can be whoever we want to be", but that of makes men's sometimes irritating, bizarre, and alienating reactions to a female character even worse. People are choosing who they want to be, and it's sometimes very degrading to women.

Mar. 31 2014 04:14 PM
Chels from Canada

Lmfao welcome to the 'wonderful' world of the female! But ya he was probably just being friendly, in real life he probably would have either attacked you or begged you to stay a while and 'just talk' hahaha :P

Mar. 15 2014 06:50 PM
James from Seattle

I have tons of friends there's a lot of us who don't kill unless you start first Were the coolest group Online add me is jaarkelll My clan name is razor hogs join me I'll protect my friends

And I'm a dude real n game lol Lvl 73

Mar. 13 2014 01:41 PM
alphaxenomorph

So youd sleep with him if you could in the game? Wow youre gay as fuck, i mean your characters a female and his is a male thats ok, but his a male in real life and you too...thats gay mate

Feb. 28 2014 04:07 AM
Mike from New Jersey

I've had a few 'experiences' playing female characters in online games. The most outrageous was in Star Wars Galaxies when a guy started trying to chat me up while I'm using a mission terminal. When I didn't respond he stripped his clothes off and started a bump and grind against my avatar. I was laughing the whole time but I could see it might be rather creepy for some. I didn't have the heart to inform of of my RL gender.

Mike

Feb. 25 2014 08:46 PM
MikeTheSex from Md

I'm hornet for some gta sex buff said get on this d
Boys only please

Feb. 12 2014 09:22 PM
LadyX from Los Angeles

Yeah whether it's on a console or a computer gaming for females
Is like being stuck in a prison full of males.
Always trying to get your attention and is unbelievable
How crazy things can get even in a game when people start catching
Feelings because you're avatar has boobs, i say this from experience.
Worse when you actually talk. Then you get stalkers and have to block
People... Or is that just me?o.o;

Feb. 12 2014 03:15 PM
Mikehawksafloppin

ProX was probably a 14yr old girl.

Feb. 07 2014 07:54 PM
Kata

It could have nothing to do with having a female character (of course it totally could too). I play as a male and make friends with random strangers in free mode all the time. Turn on passive mode somewhere you won't be run over, give someone some beers and get drunk with them. Next thing you know you're cruising all over causing mayhem, hunting bounties and laying low in their apartment.

I've actually been pretty surprised how many friendly people i've come across.

Jan. 17 2014 05:01 PM
TheTrusth from Del Perro

I had MY dick out while reading this!

Jan. 17 2014 04:04 PM
kaely

You can sleep together but you cant have sex.
Bit of a disapointment really

Jan. 09 2014 11:56 AM
Triniti from Chicago

I love this! Only because I currently have a "gtav world boyfriend". We play with eachother everyday and we ride or die. Get money and rank all day. After month there was attraction from the voice chats and parties. Eventually we exchanged Video chat...we're both sexy beasts...New York and Chicago...sobi get the catfish thing...we were both terrified the other was a big fat dogface. No.mmwe are HOT! LOL. Thanks GTA...for making me fall for a stranger that enjoys wreaking havoc as much as I. :)

Dec. 09 2013 07:15 PM
The Reaper from Your Mom

Giggity

Nov. 28 2013 07:34 PM
Big Bob

I remember playing Ragnarok Online about a decade ago as a female character.

Random guys were constantly giving me rare items. At one point I was looking for people to go on a dungeon raid with. I partnered up with this one guy, and all of the sudden he's asking me to join his guild and have an in-game wedding with him. Had barely even said two sentences to him.

Nov. 06 2013 08:46 AM
MeliJ

I had this happen to me back in an old star wars MMORPG. The guy took me to his house to look at the sunset. He told me he was 15 and from DC and just wanted a girl to share his creation with. I was a "girl" but was also about 25 and married at the time. I felt really sad, but also really honored at the same time.

Nov. 02 2013 05:43 PM
Peter

That "Edit: Hi, Reddit!..." note at the end is really tacky and almost ruined the feeling your wonderful article elicited in me. Consider removing it.

Oct. 31 2013 07:42 PM

This whole thing is so creepy. When do you guys learn to be human when your leisure is devoted to cyber mayhem? Hope it all stays cyber. And I feel guilty playing candy crush!

Oct. 30 2013 08:29 PM
Garry from Michigan

ProX was just playing the damn game. He probably assumed you were a dude anyway. Sounds more like you were the one who fell in love during your "date".

Oct. 30 2013 07:34 PM
Umbrosus from Anchorage

You just fall in love, dude...

Oct. 30 2013 06:24 PM
Chris

SMH this dude is a goof. An yeah proly had his dick out writing this

Oct. 30 2013 06:17 PM
Jared Williams

That was a good read. "felt like a tease". So funny.

Oct. 30 2013 02:17 PM
Dennis from Toronto

You may be reading into it too much assuming it had anything to do with the virtual male/female thing. As a male in real life and in the game, I've both driven with people and been driven by people. I've seen people's garages. GTA V Online is a terribly hostile place, and some people just want to cooperate in the world, so you get that sort of overture constantly, having nothing to do with any imaginary relationship. People want to show off that they know where the chopper is, or the jet fighters, or the cargo aircraft, etc, just as dudes show off in real life.

Oct. 30 2013 11:48 AM
Sal from Brooklyn NY

It sounds like you had your dick out while writing this..

Oct. 30 2013 01:28 AM
Mary from Long Island

Funny story, I feel like this has probably happened to every gamer, male or female at least once in their gaming career. I'd love to hear more from you about gender roles in gaming. It's interesting to get an educated male's perspective. Even the short time that you've been playing as a female character (at least from what I can tell), you experienced negative feedback based on your avatar's gender and the assumption that you were of the same gender. But that's the beautiful thing about the internet, we can be whoever we want to be.

Oct. 29 2013 09:18 PM

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