It is a dirt road that resembles a Roman figure. In the doldrums of the Grand Theft Auto hype cycle, that’s enough to get excited about. Here are the basics: Rockstar has released a typically cryptic teaser for the next batch of GTA Online content. In it, the ever-elusive company revealed that the forthcoming expansion will add a new landmass to the existing Los Santos map, possibly in the form of some offshore island. During that teaser, the coordinates “38.527, -79.6129” will briefly appear on the screen. Dump those numbers into Google Docs and you’ll see Middle Mountain Trail, right on the rugged Virginia-West Virginia border. Zoom out and take it all in. There is a hairpin curve that, when viewed from an exact angle, appears to form a “V” and then an “I”. VI VI.
Grand Theft Auto is a series filled to the brim with countless Easter eggs, conspiracies and urban legends. But this, a possible GTA 6 announcement corroborated by literal geography, seems by far the most brutal.
Before we get into that further, we have to make some caveats. Would Rockstar really announce something as grand as a new Grand Theft Auto game through a mysterious scavenger hunt in a trailer for a seven-year-old game? Anyway, it is extremely unlikely that the cosmopolitan franchise will go to the agricultural Appalachia. So why would the company pick any Virginia township to give a hint? Is this just a massive coincidence? Were those coordinates added completely randomly by a video editor as an added flavor, just for the GTA fandom’s desperate wishful thinking to fill in the gaps?
Maybe it’s intentional, as Rockstar rarely does things by accident, and it doesn’t mean exactly anything.
Or maybe it’s intentional, as Rockstar rarely does things by accident, and it doesn’t mean exactly anything. At the moment, the development of GTA 6 is a poorly kept secret. Maybe Rockstar just wanted to mess with his fans.
None of that matters. With no concrete facts to rely on, Grand Theft Auto diehards have learned to work with scraps, and on the r / GTA6 subreddit, residents have been putting the puzzle together for days. “The VI is too obvious as the ‘V’ is clearly different from the very straight ‘I’,” writes one user. “At a glance, that says definitely six in Roman numerals, it’s too bold to be a coincidence.”
“They’re not going to spoon feed us. I’d say this was the first sign of 6. It’s no coincidence at all,” adds another.
The discussion goes on and on. A common thread on the subreddit is already praising the virtues of a potential rural Virginia setting for a sacred franchise that has so far focused on some of the most iconic, densely populated cities in America. “The southern portions [of a hypothetical GTA 6 map] can have a Louisiana vibe, ” explains the author, who says he would rather see his hypothetical Ozarkian Grand Theft Auto a prequel to GTA: San Andreas, following the adventures of CJ’s father. There could be a mission to take a train from Motor City to Vice City and defend it against Dukes Of Hazzard KKK types. “
“Oh yes, and there will be Nixon. You have to meet Nixon and do ‘special jobs’ for him”, they add.
Elsewhere, you’ll find GTA lifers spamming the lyrics of John Denver’s West Virginian classic “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” An enterprising scammer even claimed to have cracked the code. He wrote lavishly about how, under analysis, the coordinates actually refer to Medellin, Columbia, where Pablo Escobar thrived in the 1970s and 1980s. The subreddit’s administrators quickly came in to correct the record. That poster used a manipulated screenshot with coordinates pointing to their ideal setting for a future Grand Theft Auto being, such as armed wishful thinking. “After pointing out the flaw, the OP said they were dylxlectic,” said a member of the mod team in an interview with IGN. Just another day of chronic misinformation in the rumor mill.
That moderator, well versed in the theories of the subreddits’ regulars, says they’re not sure what to believe about the apparent Easter egg. Initially, they believed that the dusty hinterland of the rural mid-Atlantic Ocean was far too inauspicious to be home to an official GTA 6 plague. It was too random, too small, too weird. But after thinking about it a bit, the mod remembered they were dealing with Rockstar, historically one of the most unpredictable studios in the industry.
“The studio could troll us. The fan base analyzes everything too much. It’s not hard for them to sneak those coordinates into a trailer and make sure they’ll be found.”
“They’ve done things like this in the past,” they say, considering how many aliens and UFOs are already hidden in Los Santos. “The studio could troll us. The fan base analyzes everything too much. It’s not hard for them to sneak those coordinates into a trailer and make sure they’ll be found.”
Another common poster is a skeptic. He’s been staring long and hard at that alleged “VI” and hasn’t been able to see what everyone else is seeing. “It’s more like an inverted N or Z,” he said in an interview with IGN. “The coordinates probably have something to do with the upcoming GTA Online DLC, which is disappointing, but expected.”
That said, even the most ardent GTA doubters can’t help but theorize on the side. The poster has its own pet theory. In the future, he explains, Rockstar may take a trip to those coordinates to emboss a final, unambiguous Grand Theft Auto badge for all to see. “Maybe they are in cahoots with Google Maps and will request an update of the satellite image after changing the roads in this area,” he explains. “That would be great fun for GTA VI.”
All of this avoids the most likely scenario – that Rockstar just wanted to have a little fun, and the final announcement of the next Grand Theft Auto will be in a much more conventional way. I suspect you’ll wake up in the next few years, pick up your phone, and already have a 90-second announcement trailer bouncing through your timeline. All memories of the Middle Mountain Trail will fade into memory as the world gets the first glimpse of the game they’ve been waiting for. But Grand Theft Auto fanatics are used to this wild goose hunt. There is still a vibrant community dedicated to unraveling the mysteries that hold Mount Chilliad in Grand Theft Auto V. (Incidentally, we never found BigFoot in San Andreas.) Those legends, the clues and gestures that oscillate between myth and reality are what makes the GTA franchise so unfathomable. Because as frustrating as the deception may be, the people on r / GTA6 live for this stuff.
“The fans love Rockstar’s games and want to get the most out of them, but the company makes this difficult because they post so many details and little mysteries that evolve over time,” says the frequent poster. “I think they realized people really liked them already in GTA Vice City, where Scarface plots appeared somewhere in that game. Rockstar went full blast. [with their crypticness] for the last few games. With how popular they are, it leads to more pronounced theory-building communities, while others are more reserved. “
The mod agrees. They tell me this Virginia distraction will disappear as just another part of the lore. With just a handful of Google Map coordinates, Rockstar is able to set their loyalists on fire. “In 10 years time it will be nice to look back on,” they say. By then, the subreddit will likely have moved on to the next urban legend.
Luke Winkie is a writer and former pizza maker in Brooklyn. follow him Twitter.