Or do they consume you?
The story began when Jane invited me to play video games at her apartment. Her apartment had no cobwebs, dust bunnies, or video game discs lying outside of their cases. Upon seeing my own reflection on the spotless floor, I tensed up and tried to loosen my collar. “How do I stand a chance?” I asked myself, “my pigsty isn’t even half as clean as this. I’m making her place dirty just by standing here.”
“Hey, let’s play that Japanese game I told you about,” said Jane. I could not nod. I could not speak. I showed my teeth. I blinked. I suppose that was, under the circumstances, my way of smiling and agreeing. “Uh, okay,” she said as she rolled her eyes about ninety degrees and scrunched up her lips. “I’ll go get us some snacks,” she said before marching off to the kitchen and disappearing.
I could not hear a single sound as I stood in her living room. I was alone, except for a tiny spider near the fireplace, and started to feel a rumble in my stomach. I took my mind off the loneliness by scanning her shelves of video games, guessing which game we were going to play. The alarm bells went off in my head after I saw the only game with Japanese text on the box. Do not expect a good translation; in fact, you should not expect a translation at all. I do not know Japanese.
I thought I should check the game out — get to know it a bit. I reached for the game box, but my left arm shook so bad that I had to steady it with my right. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and yanked the game from its house with one swift stroke.
My eyes grew wide as I opened the game case: the disc was loose and was sliding out of its box toward the floor! The clock’s second hand moved at a glacial pace, the spider moved one leg in the time I could run a marathon, which would take me forever, and the game lurched towards the floor at a rate slower than a blob of dripping molasses. My mouth fell open. Sweat poured down my forehead like a river.
“I can’t wait to show this ultra-rare game that I had imported,” she said from the kitchen while washing her hands.
The game hit the floor with a thud that made me shake like it was a quake, and I blinked. A massive crack formed in the disc as if there were plate tectonics at work under its surface. But, I thought,
“That just happened. There’s no going back.”
Still staring with wide eyes at the disc, I backed away towards the door. I closed it without blinking and, I ran faster than my young lungs would allow.
Not long after my hastened departure, Jane emerged from the kitchen bearing a platter of fine cheeses and crackers. She had put the snacks down on the coffee table when she saw the cracked disc. She furrowed her brow and said, “What’s that dusty demo copy doing on the ground?” Without batting an eyelash, she threw the old disc into the trash.
She unlocked a chest on her coffee table using a golden key that she wore around her neck. A shiny disc emerged. “And what happened to Adam?” she asked herself. Jane shrugged her shoulders and sat down on the couch to play her golden game.
Jake sported a mischevious grin as he stood in front of the presents.
“Hey Jess, did you check that you wrapped the right games for James and Joyce?” he asked.
“Oh no! I completely forgot! I don’t know what I’m going to do now,” said Jess.
Jake replied, “It’s okay: I’ll get to the bottom of this if it takes me all night.”
Jake unwrapped both presents and ripped the packaging off the games before Jess could reply.
“I can’t be sure which game is which until I beat both from start to finish; their covers are so similar,” he said.
“Oh, I didn’t know that. Ok, do whatever you need to do. You’re my hero.” She left the room with a big grin on her face. Before Jess had exited the door, Jake had already booted up the game and pressed start. He rubbed his palms together, put his feet up on the coffee table and laughed to himself.
“Yeah, and can I get a few beers while I act heroically?”
He turned around and started playing the first video game.
I told my Jedi friends they aren’t welcome to play video games at my place anymore. We can play again when they stop using mind tricks to have my character jump off cliffs. I’ve had enough of their snickering too!
It was okay for him to play video games all day until he could not see or walk straight. Because he was both playing and job training: he was going to be a professional gamer.
I’d take up hunting.