San Andreas

Driving around town, listening to Radio LS.

More than a decade later, I still remember the first time I stole a car and drove around town.

Getting there wasn’t easy. It all started with a pirate copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Well, it was one copy burnt across eight CDs, since my computer couldn’t read DVDs. It was a Windows 98 PC that, as you can probably guess, couldn’t run the game either – but I didn’t know that until I tried playing it.

Not long after that, my parents bought a brand-new PC with Windows XP. This OS might be ancient history now, but it felt like alien technology to my eyes then. Juggling those eight CDs again was exhausting. The reward , however, was unlike anything my teen self had experienced before.

You could see people walking around the streets, cars driving by, and trains going from one city to another; everything was alive inside my screen. There was no shortage of adventures: fighting gang wars, flying planes, and foolishly looking for Bigfoot (and never finding it) was possible, too.

Many of these elements have become a standard long ago. For my young self, it was all alien technology.

Spending countless hours and, sometimes, entire days roaming around Los Santos during my teenage years was the best experience video games ever gave me. I remember those streets better than my hometown, even if it’s been long since I last walked down Grove Street or tuned to Radio LS.

A lot has changed since then. I graduated high school, dropped out of college, and landed my first freelance gig; San Andreas Multiplayer became a thing, Rockstar released other projects, and my interest in new video games slowly faded over time.

For one reason or another, new developments in video games started to feel more like the norm and less like exciting alien tech to me. And yet, it’s reassuring to know I can always install San Andreas again, steal a car, and drive around Los Santos feeling the way I did back then.

By JM Albandoz

JM Albandoz is a freelance writer who focuses on anything interesting, from French Bulldogs to Finance and a few things in between. You can contact him at

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