Los Santos: A Home Away from Home

Grand Theft Auto V is a work of absolute beauty— it is a solid, perfectly crafted game that is not only insanely fun to play, it has a world so alive and so massive that without even following the immersive story, you can lose hours sailing a boat, driving through the desert or playing a round of golf: the possibilities are endless and that is why it is the perfect getaway for me. In GTA’s online mode, you can create a lifelike representation of yourself to commit your own crimes, participate in street races or death matches, all with the aim of becoming the richest and most powerful player in Los Santos. I’m not massively interested in all of that; I like the idea of just visiting the city from time to time—maybe annoying other players by gunning them down or driving them over, all because I can. Most of my time spent in GTA online is spent taking in the sites though. There is plenty to appreciate and when I need some time to cool down, kick back and relax, I go there….which brings me on to the whole point of the article.


One night—not too long ago—I had just got home from a particularly taxing night at work. I was still pretty wound up and desperately in need of finding something to chill me out; with there being no alcohol in the fridge and my stupid decision to quit smoking five or six years ago still in place, I decided to switch on the PS4 and head to gorgeous Los Santos: the greatest city that never lived. Yes, it is a computer-generated city and maybe I take gaming far too seriously but I’m fairly confident that I’m not on my own when I turn to video games to relieve some stress—stress that can be turned into wonder with every minute that passes as you play.

I headed online and appeared in my dingy apartment; sitting in front of my archaic television with narcotics and alcohol strewn across the coffee table—night time on the horizon and a lot of opportunities to be taken. It was about 8pm and I headed to the garage downstairs to take my red Elegy RH8 for a spin. I wasn’t planning on doing anything too drastic tonight but sometimes, the littlest action can escalate into a full-on pursuit from a bunch of trigger happy cops; I just wanted to cruise around Vinewood, take in a movie and go for a stroll on the beach. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go down like that—it was all my fault but I don’t regret a second.

I’d been driving around for some time and wanted to take a short break so I headed onto the roof of one of the Bean Machine Coffee Shops on Del Perro Plaza. The sun was setting and the view was breath-taking—I wanted to soak up the sun while it lasted and simply stand there and watch it go down. In the distance, I could see another player walking along, minding his own business and more than likely, doing exactly the same thing as I was. For some reason though, I felt an urge—somewhat impulsive and maybe unnecessarily exacted—to pick him off with my sniper rifle. I have spent quite a lot of time playing GTA Online trying to level up, rob liquor stores and gas stations and work with other criminals to earn some serious cash. In many of these instances, I’d met a gruesome end at the end of a carbine or a Molotov—gamers can be so cruel. I’m not one to really indulge in uncalled-for violence but for some reason, I opened up the weapon wheel, selected the sniper rifle and fixed the player firmly in the crosshairs. With a welcomed rush of adrenaline—not caring too much for the consequences—I pulled the trigger and killed him on the spot. I imagined the real life person behind the dead character shouting at his screen and swearing sweet revenge at me, already planning on coming after me—needless to say, he did. I remained on the roof but the blip that indicated him was moving closer to me and I knew I didn’t have much time before we collided. I knew from where I was standing that he wasn’t going to make it on the roof. There was only one way up and my customised automatic was waiting for him. As a few moments passed, he appeared to give up so I cautiously headed down the ladder and got back into my car. The sunset had vanished and the black of night was hours away—the sun had gone and the moon was almost here. The other guy wasn’t too far away but he didn’t seem like he was interested in me anymore. The need for revenge had dissipated pretty fast and he was off again, walking around with no intention of a showdown. I wasn’t content with that. I couldn’t let it go. Why wasn’t he after me? I drove towards him and located him by a block of flats where he was sat in his car. As I drove passed him, something clicked and he began firing his Uzi in a blind rage—all that faded vengeance had risen to the surface and my car was full of bullet holes. Maybe it was his intention all along. Thankfully, I was still in one piece so I drove off and he followed me. This was getting interesting. We flew around the city and narrowly missed death at the hands of NPCs driving their cars recklessly. He wasn’t giving up and I really wanted to take this jerk out. He was an inconvenience now and I wanted to return to a calmer, easier time. I managed to get a bit of a lead on him and was able to get out my car. I disappeared behind a tall set of apartments and hid behind a short wall where I waited for him to come and find me—one of us would be going down in a blaze of glory and I really didn’t want it to be me. On the mini-map, his indicator was barely an inch next to mine and I knew one of our demises was moments away. Suddenly, he appeared—holding a grenade in his hand with the pin already pulled. My heart pounded—I hadn’t thought of using explosives. I had switched over to my shotgun so that when it came to CQC I’d blow him away—clever guy, I thought.  It flew through the air and landed just shy of the wall I was crouched behind. It didn’t work but I’m not sure he knew that. He approached with caution, assuming that I was dead and he had collected the victory he craved so badly. Unfortunately for him—with only a few yards away from me—I stood up, pulled the trigger and blew him away—again. The night had felt like a success. Someone who had so quickly become my enemy had fallen to my feet—by my hand and it felt invigorating.


After everything that had just transpired, I was looking for somewhere to find that peace and quiet. In the distance, I could see the illuminations of the Ferris wheel on my favourite location in the whole of Los Santos: Del Perro Pier. It wasn’t miles away but it was still a fair distance; luckily for me, I was only 100 yards away from the beach itself so I chose to enjoy a leisurely stroll under the midnight sky. I had never seen the pier look so beautiful before. As the waves massaged the foot of the beach, there was barely a sole around and I had plenty of time to enjoy the quiet. I thought about the crimes I had just committed. I thought about that stressful night at work in the real world. I thought about everything. When I finally arrived on the pier, it was 4am and the beautiful lights were buzzing around the sky and the sounds of the rides and games soothed me. It reminded me of the times when I was a kid—visiting similar beaches with my parents and my grandparents. It was relaxing. It was exactly what I needed. As the sun came up over the sleeping city of Los Santos, I called a taxi and headed home to my dingy apartment, alone without my beautiful little red ride. It didn’t matter though; that night was more valuable than any car I’d ever be able to buy. I’d so many fantastic moments whilst playing GTA but that night was one of my fondest memories in all the years I’d spent on any video game my whole life. I’d visited my home away from home for sanctuary and it had given me more than any beer or cigarette could. I turned off the PS4 and headed back to reality; I felt a lot better than before and I owed it all to Los Santos.