Why everyone is talking about Sweden’s GTA pride parade

Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
An image from the Los Santos Pride mod. Photo: Garbergs
A Swedish modification which adds a gay pride parade to computer game Grand Theft Auto V has attracted the attention of millions and sparked fierce debate among gamers, The Local has been told.

Grand Theft Auto V (or GTA V for short) is an open world computer game that has sold over 65 million copies since its September 2013 release. 

Los Santos Pride is a free unofficial modification for the game which allows players to interact with a pride parade by dancing in it or wearing rainbow colours. Seven days after its launch, one of the Swedes who came up with the idea told The Local that the response has been huge, as well as varied.

“We’ve been live for seven days now and while I don’t have numbers for downloads yet, we’ve picked up over 2.5 million combined views for the whole campaign on Youtube and Facebook,” Sedir Ajeenah explained.

“Gamers have even started uploading videos of themselves walking in the Pride parade on Youtube.”

The campaign is a collaboration between advertisers Garbergs and Stockholm Pride, who contacted the agency and asked them to come up with a creative idea to highlight this year’s festival. Ajeenah, a creative partner at Garbergs, looked to one of his hobbies for inspiration: gaming.

“Me and my partner William came up with the concept, and Stockholm Pride loved it. We started by checking forums to find out if people would help us while also trying to keep it secret, and we found modders. JulioNiB who created the coding is a genius, he has created some of the most popular mods around and he really liked the idea.”

On paper Stockholm Pride and GTA V are not obvious bedfellows, but according to co-creator Ajeenah that clash was part of the point of the project.

“That’s the kicker. That’s the whole thing. The explosiveness of the idea. GTA is known for being a good game, but has also received a lot of criticism for violence and its depiction of women. Pride is a celebration of love and equality. They’re two different worlds.”

The unlikely combination has stirred up debate and provoked both positive and negative reactions to the mod, not least in the Youtube comments section for its trailer.

“We’ve received a lot of beautiful reactions on Twitter and in comments feeds, but obviously there are a lot of negative comments too. The gaming world isn’t quite known for being so open, so that’s no surprise,” Ajeenah noted.

“When you see the negative comments it becomes obvious why these types of projects are necessary. The campaign has obviously sparked a debate, that’s the main goal.”

The Swede insisted however that the goal of the project was not to comment specifically on the gaming world, but to find a new, modern way of spreading Stockholm Pride’s message. Another example of Swedish innovation in action, it could be said. 

“We’re touching on the subject of the gaming world, it’s impossible not to. But we didn’t set out to do that specifically, we saw it as something bigger, about spreading love in new areas, which is what Stockholm Pride is all about,” he said.

“Mods are interesting because they are untouched ground. Something that can still be explored as a way of communicating, and we thought it would be interesting to use that phenomenon.”