You killed them too, don't you dare tell me otherwise. You slaughtered every last one of them. And you laughed. You laughed and laughed as you gleefully mowed them down, crushing their bones and their spirits into the tarmac in one swoop.
Want more GTA RP adventures? Luckily, Joe's a persistent nuisance (he's lovely in real life).
- That time he robbed a bank by posing as a journalist
- That time he auditioned to be a pop star
- That time he murdered some hunters in the woods
- That time he wound up in a Black Mirror episode
- That time he started a cult
- That time he got the city high as a rogue paramedic
- That time he posed as a lawyer to clear a serial killer's name
- That time he became a vampire with a nightclub
- That time he fought the zombies
Sometimes, between missions or betwixt run-ins with the law, you combed the streets, listening for their song—low-pitched and twee. You chased the chorale until you caught sight of their shiny bald heads and vibrant orange threads. Then it was on. You lined up your ride, kicked into gear, and sent the lot of them tumbling like a set of blood-spattered bowling pins. Across your screen, the glorious message read: GOURANGA.
Killing seven of these chaps at once in Rockstar North's (then DMA Design) 1997 sandbox crime simulator Grand Theft Auto was, perversely, glorious. Running the cluster over, taking them out one-by-one, seeing that hallowed catchphrase—which loosely translates to 'Be Happy'—was, for some reason, so very satisfying. As was the four-star police chase that invariably followed. I lost so much time arsing around in those first top-down iterations of Liberty City, Vice and San Andreas, seeking out the talking targets and laying them flat.
I wasn't a fan of the group's dubious gangland incarnation that appeared in GTA 2, and I was always a wee bit miffed they didn't feature again in the series' 3D universe or beyond. For me, each in-game GOURANGA spoke to the free-for-all, controversial and crass nature of the first late '90s Grand Theft Auto.
Just as satisfying, was the pacifist approach, whereby nudging the leader of the pack a few times would see him follow your lead. Before long, you'd be the one guiding the group, on-song, weaving in and out of each town's hustle and bustle. Which is what modern-day GTA is missing, really. Never mind flashy cars, high-grade weapons or single-player DLC—getting the Gouranga Gang back together should be top of Rockstar's list of future update plans.
I'm so sure of this fact that, in the meantime, I decided to take my throwback plan to the Grand Theft Auto 5 roleplay scene. If you've followed any of my GTA RP exploits before now, my latest venture was typically far from straightforward.
Step 1: The Outfitting Stage
If I was going to recreate a Grand Theft Auto Gouranga gang, I had to go all in. Or, at least, as all in as the roleplay server I played in would allow. After choosing a bald avatar in-line with my source material, my next order of business was my wardrobe—an orange robe and sandals, if possible—and so I set off for the Textile City-Sinners Passage branch of Binco Clothing. After pouring over the racks and stands, I cobbled together the closest outfit to the original GTA revellers as I could:
- A crappy yellow/orange t-shirt
- A pair of baggy '90s illegal rave-aping orange trousers
- A pair of cheap-looking white flip flops
I'm not going to lie, I looked like a cross between an escaped convict and a lads' holiday. And not a cool convict either. Less Simon Adebisi from Oz, more Emilio Rebenga from Scarface. Lads' holidays, of course, have never been cool. I sighed, and realised it was the best I could do.
And anyway, spirit and enthusiasm were the key ingredients here. Halfway through my outfitting, another shopper entered the store. He started the same process of toggling through potential new threads. I decided to feel him out.
Do you remember the chant the Gouranga guys made in the first GTA? Ho-ho-ruh-ho, ho-ho-ruh-ho, ho-ho-ruh-ho—something like that? Standing in front of the mirror, admiring my new rigout, I murmured it, quietly, at first. I paused, tried to gauge the chap opposite's reaction. Nothing.
I went a little louder. Ho-Ho-Ru-Ho. Still nothing. Was this plan misjudged? Probably. Was I showing my age? Definitely. I mean, 1997 is a long time ago. What if the players in this server weren't alive in '97? But, even if that were the case, surely everyone in a GTA server would get the reference, right? I skipped out, hopped on my mountain bike, and made for the server's de-facto meet-up hub, Legion Square.
Step 2: The Pitching Stage
"Do you remember the Gouranga guys from the first Grand Theft Auto?"
That was my shtick, plain and simple. I probably should've made up a backstory with roleplay in mind, but I didn't want to overcomplicate things. Folk might not understand who I was on about if I didn't play it straight, and I already had my doubts about how many people would actually remember a pretty minor detail from a game over two decades old.
To my surprise, more people remembered than I thought.
"Yeah," I think was one man's reply. "I remember. They had that cool song."
"The orange-robed dudes," I'm sure another woman said. "You'd knock them all down."
"Yes!" I replied. "Be Happy!" I introduced the chant. Ho-ho-ruh-ho, ho-ho-ruh-ho.
I spotted another bald man across the street. I noticed he was wearing civilian clothes, but I pitched him the same line. He nodded without saying a word. A vow of silence? This guy was devout.
Step 3: The Chanting Stage
Now, with my gang of believers growing, it was time to kick things up a notch.
"Ho-ho-ruh-ho," I whispered into my mic. I paused. I won't lie, it felt good.
"Ho-ho-ruh-ho, Ho-ho-ruh-ho." I grew more confident with each breath.
"HO-HO-RUH-HO! HO-HO-RUH-HO! HO-HO-RUH-HO! HO-HO-RUH-HO!"
Now, I can't say for sure if I embodied some sort of spiritual awakening from this point, but I went for it. Seriously, I freaking went for it. I belted out the manta over my headset, up on my feet in real life, chanting at my monitor, hopping from my left foot to my right and then back again, marching around Legion Square.
"HO-HO-RUH-HO! HO-HO-RUH-HO! HO-HO-RUH-HO! HO-HO-RUH-HO!"
I could barely hear my girlfriend screaming from downstairs.
"DAMNIT JOE, YOU'VE WOKEN THE BABY AGAIN."
"HO-HO-RUH-HO! HO-HO-RUH-HO! HO-HO-RUH-HO!"
The wee one will forgive me, I thought to myself, if only she could remember her father, in this glorious moment, years from now.
My ragtag crew of haphazard followers joined in.
Players across the street ran over to join the street conga. I'm certain no one really knew what was going on or why they were singing at all. HO-HO-RUH-HO! So inspired was I by the frenzy, so caught up in the gusto, that I'd pretty much forgotten the whats and whys and hows of it all as well.
I was ecstatic, mentally in-tune with the world, Zen. I felt, dare I say it, Gouranga.
Step 4: The 'Hold The Bus' Stage
Except… did I? My mind was actually a bit cloudy. My head was spinning, in fact. I felt like I'd been hit by a bus.
Did I visit an elevated plane? In fact, did anyone actually join in? How much of all of this narrative could I actually remember?
I mean, I remember going to Binco and sorting out my outfit.
I remember posing in the mirror, and chanting.
I remember asking around Legion.
I remember my shtick—Do you remember the Gouranga guys from the first Grand Theft Auto?—and, actually, being told no time and time and time again.
No. No. No.
The first GTA? Who remembers that?
What, the game from the '90s? Are you actual serious?
I don't, no, but that singing sure is irritating, pal.
I remember circling back and doubling down. "You need to get some shoes on, mate." Nice one.
I remember two guys getting really upset with my mantra. My outfit glitched out, too. It seems even the server was against me.
In fact, before all of this, I remember… a bus? An actual bus. I felt like I'd been hit by a bus because I had been hit by an actual bus.
I remember a considerable amount of pain.
Concussion. Black outs. Aimless running. Mindless chanting.
I suffered my own Tyler Durden-inspired, skewed timeline episode. I am Jack's sense of failure.
No one in my particular corner of the GTA roleplay scene remembered the Gouranga guys from the first ever Grand Theft Auto of 1997. Not one person, out of the 30 or so people I asked. How depressing. My character found his own, dream-swept dimension, but it was a solo effort all along.
You start to hallucinate. So be it. Here we are. Welcome to GTA roleplay, where you see out the charade—no matter what misfortune the deck deals you. The first rule of good roleplay is: do not break roleplay protocol. Even when hit by a bus. To be fair, I guess my solo outcome wasn't much different from the Gouranga gangs of old after all. Amid this fever dream, let it never be said I'm not committed to the Grand Theft Auto RP cause.
As for Fight Club's place in all of this… well, that's a story for another time.