Grand Theft Auto V has been given new life thanks to a roleplaying server called "No Pixel," where enterprising players can take on the role of a doctor, a criminal, and nearly everything in between. The roleplaying server has exploded in popularity thanks to Sodapoppin, Forsen, Summit1g, and a number of other extremely prominent Twitch streamers picking the modded server up and featuring it on their channels over the past week.
Grand Theft Auto V roleplaying isn't new, but this is the first time there's been a dedicated server for it that's accessible online, although "No Pixel" is locked behind an application process that screens potential participants. The server's application asks a number of fascinating questions that players must (hopefully) answer in-character to parse, including ones that ask interested parties what they would do if they found a car on the street with a "load" of drugs inside. The server has a pretty close to zero-tolerance policy for breaking character, but beyond that, players pretty much have free rein to figure out who they want to be.
It's exactly the kind of niche phenomenon that has dominated Twitch before - think such classics as Twitch Plays Pokemon - and it's doing it again. These streams and the thousands of people watching them have routinely placed Grand Theft Auto V into unheard of territory, competing with Fortnite and League of Legends in viewership numbers. The popularity has also begun to spawn a cinematic universe related to the streamers who are participating in the server, even though most cinematic universes don't stream 24-hour features that can be viewed from the perspective of five different main characters simultaneously. Here's what Twitch's viewership figures look like tonight, on March 19, 2019:
That's right - Grand Theft Auto V, a game that's over five years old at this point and is not inherently the sort of multiplayer title that regularly attracts Twitch crowds, is up over 40k viewers on its next closest competitor, Fortnite. There's also a lot of variety, with some streamers plotting out elaborate storylines with collaborators while others just try to portray their own character to the best of their ability. For instance, Sodapoppin's streams feature him roleplaying as Kevin Whipaloo, an anxious mess of a man who is trying to make honest money in a city literally called Crime City, USA. It only gets weirder from there, but it's entertaining stuff, and it's becoming so popular it might be here to stay.
Of course, Twitch has hosted several different popular lightning-in-a-bottle moments that haven't panned out into sustained viewership communities. Something about Grand Theft Auto V roleplaying feels unique, though. It could be that it is well-suited to showcasing what makes streamers so popular in the first place in their personalities. It might be that we've seen ambitious crossovers between several popular content creators already, and could see even more. Or it could just be that these streams capture what many people's first moments with GTA as a series were: the kind of controller chaos and unexpected free-roaming that made for excellent stories to be shared with friends at a later date. Whatever it is, Grand Theft Auto V roleplaying is Twitch's next big thing, and it's already here to stay, at least for the short-term.