Nightcrawling: a reason to call the police in GTA

AI vs AI

The game worlds the Grand Theft Auto franchise create are incredible, but not because of the experiences the player gets from their big selling point mechanics like shooting, driving, and exploration.  These have been mimicked ad infinitum by other open world adventure / sandbox games within the genre, the thing that distinguishes GTA games from others are the little details of the world that bring it to life.  One such granular, detailed system GTA has implemented expertly in Grand Theft Auto V is an advanced AI system.  In the game, the conflicts that come up between the innocent civilians and criminal elements are not limited to the player causing chaos.  Disgruntled drivers in traffic exhibit road rage, aggressive gangs protect their territories, and all the while innocent people react, call the police, pull out their camera phones, and flee.  Eventually paramedics appear on the scene to tend to the wounded and police to handle the criminals.

Due to my love of role-playing a normal citizen among the city, and witnessing how the AI NPCs interact with each other, I have been able to witness some incredible encounters between NPCs.  The ability for the game itself to create action, makes the world feel less focused on just existing for my story as the player and more of a world I get to be a part of. With the ease with which the player can record game footage and moments on next generation consoles such as PS4, I became curious of the unique moments I could capture.


The film Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gylenhall, features an interesting form of journalism within which professional camera crews attempt to be on the scene of events which first responders get called to; car accidents, violent crimes, fires, etc.  The goal is to obtain footage of these events and then sell them to local news organizations to be used in morning reports.  This inspired me to follow the NPCs around in GTA, in an effort to obtain similar such footage, and I was not disappointed.

While the Paramedic and Firefighters are rarely called out for anything involving much action, Police are often involved in action packed chases and shootouts, and thus they became the focus of my Nightcrawling.

Following the police led to some incredible moments; where chase scenes caused collateral damage for civilians, and shootouts were sometimes won by the criminals, and some criminals even turned on each other during the shootouts that ensued.  The dynamics of the world interacting and engaging with itself are phenomenal to observe.

(Footage of a few Nightcrawling sessions and their results)

I’ve included a challenge for you all to try out this type of gameplay in my article Nightcrawling: challenge, check back on Thursday for the full challenge details.


Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookInstagramand Youtube.

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