Does anyone remember playing cops and robbers as a kid? The thrill of running from and chasing down your friends in a more elaborate version of tag. Now, take that thought, apply it to Grand theft Auto 5 (GTA5), and add the rules and restrictions of Illinois state law. Now you have one of the most realistic games of cops and robbers one could ever play.
GTA 5 and an online roleplay community that has started around a heavily modified version of the game. The United States Role-Playing Community is a strong online grouping of friends who like to game and play as law enforcement.
There are three factions on the server, and everyone in it can switch among the three. There are the police officers, whose members are organized like an actual police department. There are criminals, who can be either organized or random lone wolves. And there are the citizens, who play as the randoms in the game who can do whatever.
How the police in the game work is inspired by the state of Illinois legal code. They use the procedure and protocols followed by the police offices in Illinois. That includes all regulations and code of conduct from how to train new people to what to do at a traffic stop and writing up reports of what you did.
All of it is done for the sake of realism. By doing this, the Creator of the server Novak was trying to simulate how policing in the real world would be done. In the past year, the laws of our nation and the officers that enforce them have been under heavy criticism. From the protests during the summer of 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd to the nation’s continued push for police reform. Now there is a virtual way to reproduce some of the difficult situations that have seen police officers run afoul of the law.
This focus on realism and proper policing has attracted a lot of people who want to either be a police officer or join law enforcement in some capacity. It has even inspired many young people on the server to want to join law enforcement. The general age of participants is between 17- 20 years old, although, some members are older.
This roleplay server has created a welcoming community where people can learn their roles and character and express themselves openly. Currently, over 1,400 people are active on the server, and all of these people are spread out upon the different roles.
Jonathan Bresser and Jame Valentine are two active members of the community. They are a part of the team responsible for keeping everything together. Bresser is a police commissioner in the online community.
“Our community is a law enforcement based community. We create different roleplay scenes where we act out different emergency responses,” said Bresser. “We are a state police department. We have a county sheriff’s office. We have medical services and a fire department. There are even a couple of people inside the staff team that are senior and act as state marshalls. There are times in the past where the server has taken different directions, and we had judicial systems, and it was more complicated than it is now, but really anything and ever you would want to do within the concept of law and order we try to accommodate.”
The people who join want to know what it is like in some way to be a cop, Valentine said.
“For people who came here as law enforcement, the realism is exactly why they came here,” said Valentine. “They are pursuing law enforcement. Some are in law enforcement currently, and others who have gotten out of it still want to do it in some capacity but can’t in real life. If we are able to make it as realistic as possible then that gives them a reason why they came here. We are doing our job as leaders to fulfill our job as a community.”
The server has a focus on trying to show people how to be a good cop and how to follow procedure and understand what you can and can not do within the legal framework of Illinois state law. However, even in an online environment with a lot less stress than in real life, mistakes in high-stakes situations still happen. They are dealt with as they are in real-life policing.
If you are interested in joining this community use the discord link here: https://discord.gg/ueJs59HHJr