In Grand Theft Auto Online, Mirror Park is a quiet residential neighborhood tucked right under the Diamond Casino. I’ve only spent a few moments there, and it’s usually to steal a car so I can get to a more important place on the map. This is a game about murder and crime, after all — I don’t have time to hang out with a bunch of homeowners and talk about the neighbors!
But activities like that are the whole point on GTA Online role-play servers like New Day. Full disclosure, I’m currently a volunteer staffer on the Grand Theft Auto roleplay server New Day, where I cause chaos as the terrible Becks Lawson — with the roleplay administrator team’s blessings, of course — and help with running narrative events and community administration. While I won’t cover the content I directly plan, there are still plenty of good stories to dig up.
There are no flying cars or orbital strikes; instead, over 300 players gather across the map to act out stories of intrigue, business, friendship, and crimes that are more realistic and personal.
On the New Day server, Mirror Park is run by the Black Lotus Motorcycle Club, and they rule their neighborhood with an iron fist. The server’s lore explains that the club’s members had originally headed to the city of Los Santos from Reno, and they immediately clashed with other gangs and police when they arrived. Larry Tate, the Club’s President, is played by a user who goes by the handle Homesick; he spoke with Polygon over Discord about Black Lotus and the club’s activities.
“The club focuses a lot on community building in their home area of Mirror Park, hosting weekly public rides where they allow anyone to tag along, as well as other events such as barbecues for the local community,” said Homesick. The Black Lotus compound is also home to Ronnie’s Custom Choppers, the only place in Los Santos where you can get a custom-made and tuned bike, created just for you. The shop’s name pays tribute to a fallen brother.
It isn’t unusual for a criminal organization to carve out some turf in Los Santos; gangs and motorcycle clubs often patrol their territory and protect those within it. But the manicured lawns and suburban environment of Mirror Park are so peaceful that there’s something inherently funny about the contrast between the bikers of Black Lotus and the turf they’ve chosen. It’s like if the local homeowner’s association had guns, choppers, and occasionally got raided by the police.
On top of taking care of the neighborhood and selling custom Choppers, Black Lotus club members deal in gun manufacturing, gunrunning, and other forms of crime hidden under “legitimate businesses.” According to Homesick, the club hopes to expand: “We do plan on expanding this venture to other groups, but as of right now it’s all about finding clients we can trust to make sure the business survives. Our legal businesses work mainly as a cover-up for all our underworld elements.”
Just because it’s run by a crime-friendly organization doesn’t mean you can run around Mirror Park causing trouble. Robbing houses or selling weed in Black Lotus territory is dicey stuff. If you even just speed through Mirror Park, you might find yourself surrounded by bikers who chide you for your reckless behavior.
“When it comes to Mirror Park, we are definitely very protective of it,” said Homesick. “We are trying to build a sense of community there where our neighbors are familiar with each other, where people can live safely without the fear of being robbed when they step out on their porch.”
Black Lotus members insist they live by a code. Homesick says that even though they’re an “outlaw biker club,” they treat people with respect. For instance, they won’t shoot cops on the server unless the police start the fight, and they take pride in keeping the peace — even if that means roughing up other criminals who sneak into the city to sell weed and burgle houses.
It also makes a ton of sense for an organization like this one to exist in a world that is built on the foundation of Grand Theft Auto 5. In the Grand Theft Auto games, pedestrians and civilians are props and targets. They’re constantly thrown out of their cars or off cliffs; they’ll get shot for fun or blown up with missiles. On a server like New Day that prides itself on realistic role-playing, the power dynamics are different. Sure, there are still dirty criminals who will steal your car and shoot you for insulting them, but there are also civilians who are worth protecting — and groups like Black Lotus who’ll defend them.