I have the heart of an explorer, so every-time I am given free reign within the kingdom of a Grand Theft Auto game, I chase after my elusive prize. My white whale.
They say that she is a myth and a legend. That many men have flown out or sailed out to their death (from boredom) in search of her, but I am un-deterred.
This time, though, something happened on my journey. I cannot be sure if this is a discovery, or some kind of siren’s trick, but I know that I was on a different type of ground than I was on when I began, and that is both thrilling and horrifying.
My journey began like any other. I chose a sea fairing vessel — in this case, a fine-assed jet ski (when I take on adventure, I like to roll Kenny Powers’ style) — and struck out into the dark and mysterious ocean that lies at the foot of mighty Los Santos island.
Normally, I will give this mission 30 minutes to an hour, going out to a point beyond where I can see any remnant of land. It is peaceful there and only the waves and the hum of the thunderous sea pony between my legs can be heard singing their songs.
Why do I go so far past the playable area? I’ll answer you, but first, let me ask you this: Why do we dream of stepping foot on the Moon for real, instead of in a studio set up by the Nixon administration? To explore, that is why!
We are God’s unchained dancers, spinning with the breeze, fueled by our freedom and our ambition and our responsibility to go beyond the limits — those rotting walls formed by the bodies of those whose dreams could no longer carry them!
Who are these programmers to tell us what the playable area is? Our whole lives are the playable areas if we so choose, and if they can’t take that to heart and accept the breadth of our desire then they are assassins of our hope, and they are without purpose!
So, anyway, I’m looking for a hidden level. Some kind of Easter egg island plopped down in the middle of the sea as a reward for those who venture out, as I do.
I call her, Grand Theft Auto: Atlantis, and tonight I may have gotten as close to finding her as I ever will, despite the foul incursion of a force that considers itself God-like… the game engine.
You see, as I powered out into the ocean, past the point where I could see nothing but sea and sky, the waves began to crush against my small but powerful beast. More and more, they tasked me, jostling me about as I galloped atop the waves like some kind of angel winged surf-God.
“Come on you bitch!” I cried out, doing a pretty righteous impression of George Clooney from A Perfect Storm — a move that be-giggled me, but did nothing to slow the liquid battering ram that kept slamming into me, trying to stop me from my destiny.
You see, much like Christopher Columbus — the man who singlehandely founded America and discovered that the world was round — I am an explorer, a discoverer, and an insatiable seeker. I am pixel Christopher Columbus! But as the waves grew, my challenge became clear.
This was not innocent AI nature at play. Some random bit of code, unluckily finding me in this moment. Oh no, I was being Truman Show‘d, and I would have none of it.
Down went my joystick as Franklin pushed once more into the glory of battle. I was onto something now and I could taste it like the salty electronic mist.
Further we pushed and further still, until I saw them. Pink lights unlike any I had ever seen before. Was it her? Was it GTA: Atlantis at last?
I will admit, now as I sit in my study pondering the night’s events, that I am doped up like a motherfucker on NyQuil and sick as fuck-all. I am the cautionary tale of the person who calls out of work to play a video game and then actually gets sick.
I will also concede that the moon makes for a trickster when serving as a guide, and that I may have gotten turned around while being tossed about among the waves.
The game told me that I had reached shore at the Los Santos International Airport, but before I could even finish reading that sentence, the oppressive, trigger happy NPC “law” swarmed at poor Franklin, shooting him and chasing him back out to sea, naked save for his clothes and his determination to accompany me on this endeavor.
I failed Franklin on this night. Drunk on the NyQuil and the hope that we had at last discovered this jewel, I had foolishly pushed the jet ski up onto the beach. Friends, jet ski’s do not work on sand, and so, Franklin drowned… to death, resetting my game.
Did Franklin reach GTA: Atlantis? Were those pink lights something unseen by any other and something undone by the watchers over at Rockstar, who would conspire to kill a plucky young character for challenging their hold on the limits of man’s freedom?
I think you know how I feel, but before I part, let me urge you to go off on your own search for GTA: Atlantis, employing only luck, a tiny video game jet ski, and your hunger to see the pink lights. The vanity of my own pursuit has ceased, I care not if I find GTA: Atlantis, just that it is found.