“Hey Max,” said his mother, Kathy, “whatcha playin’?”
Max had his back turned to his mom. On screen, his character was firing a rocket launcher while dangling from the bottom of a hovering helicopter. The rockets whizzed and screeched out of the launcher and turned enemy choppers into massive fireballs.
“Huh?” he asked.
A couple of seconds later, Max’s character was touching the ground and was driving a Mercedes-like car. Kathy, still behind Max, sighed.
“Ah I hate this mission. I can never get there in time to drop the people off before the timer runs out,” said Max still staring at the screen.
Max could feel a pair of eyes, with laser-like focus, burning a hole in his back. He shot his mother a quick glance and saw she had folded her arms and was glowering at him. He put down the controller.
Max said, “Alright, alright I’ll go do it now. Sheesh! I never get any me time.”
When Max left, Kathy reached for the controller with a shaky hand. She stopped herself. First she looked left, right, under the couch. “Is anyone here?” she asked herself. After one could see all doubt was removed, she plopped herself down on the couch and started playing.
The current objective was to drive two kids to basketball practice on time. “Haha hmmm”, she thought, “well why not?”
She took off in the car, but the car lurched forward when she tried to stop at a red light.
A torrential downpour fell down her forehead because she saw a cop car on the opposite side of the intersection. Nothing happened. The cop car drove past. Kathy went on her merry way in the game world.
“Well that’s strange,” she thought as she sped up the car a little bit.
Kathy wiped the sweat from her brow and checked her left and right blind spots before she continued driving. She slumped down a little in her seat, as if she felt a little small for what she planned to do next, and she accelerated faster than any sane person would in this world.
She smiled when she heard no sirens and saw no kids. Kathy thought she could do whatever she wanted to accomplish her mission. After a while, she did not even see other people or drivers in the world. In fact, after a couple of minutes, she came to an intersection that only had tumbling tumbleweeds.
But as she revved her engines and slammed on the gas, a pedestrian rounded the corner, and she “bumped” into him. A slight delay on screen ensued between the bump and the pedestrian falling over.
Kathy put her hand over mouth and muttered something inaudible.
And she spoke up, “Oh dear, oh I’m so, so sorry!”, she said. She had her character roll down the car window and searched for a button to say something. All she could find was a button that made the character taunt the pedestrian with rude thrusting gestures.
“Oh no! This is even worse,” she said.
The pedestrian didn’t turn around. He just wiped the dirt off his shoulder and kept walking. No one stopped Kathy or said anything to her.
She moved her hand away from her mouth, and her demeanor changed. She thought, “Oh, what the hell; I’ll just keep going. No one seems to care in this world anyway.”
She smirked and lifted one corner of her mouth much higher than the other. She revved up her engine and was counting to three.
Suddenly, the expression on her face changed. She hit pause and put down the controller. Kathy pushed her hand under chin and lurched forward on the couch until she looked Rodin’s “The Thinker.”
“Wait!”, she thought, “should I be going faster? Should I keep doing this? How should I treat others and what am I even doing here?”
She concluded it was a good game, picked up the controller and kept playing.