There was a boy, there was a game, and there was a webcam. When a boy gets too addicted to his games, how far is he willing to go to get the most out of his playtime? This is a story about that boy, his consequences, how the people around him are affected by it, and most of all, how his best friend shows him that falling in love with a game is stupid, when actual love is already staring you in the face.
This is a series originally posted on Nifty by a friend of mine. On his behalf (because for some reason, he couldn't get an account here), I'm posting it here. He reckons people who read here might like it too. The tags for this story aren't specific to any one chapter, but are general for the entire series. It's a work in progress, with currently 8 chapters and counting. Chapter 1 serves as a prologue. Chapter 2 is the actual start of the story, with Chapter 3-8 containing the real meat of the story.
I will be posting each chapter exactly as it is found on nifty sans my friend's author's notes. He highly appreciates feedback, criticism and encourages people to spot any typos or errors and if you wish to email him he's at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you enjoy his story.
Twelve year old William James was just like any average boy. He had a medium build with regular neatly trimmed blond hair; he had perfectly normal interests and was average in school. He liked to play sports with his friends enough that he wasn’t inactive but not to the point that he was a jock either. He was not a show off, but he was not lacking for confidence; it was entirely possible that he was much more daring than he realized he was. But for all his seemingly unremarkable plainness, there was a side of him that most people didn’t know much about.
William loved computer games. Very. Very. Much.
That’s why when word got out that a new MMORPG was just released and that it was one of the most anticipated games on the net, William jumped on the bandwagon in less the time it takes for him to take a bath (which he does fairly quickly because he’d much rather be spending that time on games).
While most people didn’t know much about William’s game addiction, John Watson did. The bespectacled, raven-haired John was eleven and a half, and just so happened to be William’s best friend. John can be best described as William’s lackey, owing to the fact that aside from being fairly similar to William in most aspects, he was rather stockier, shorter, more subservient and more likely to follow the orders of someone bolder than him. William, for instance.
And on this particular day, like any other, a simple hand gesture from William as they passed each other in the school halls meant that John was being summoned by his friend for some after-school playing.
“Why’d you have to call me over today? You know we got tons of homework and my brain’s not taking this geography essay too well…” chided a slightly irate John.
William waved him off as he began booting his PC and at the same time haphazardly throwing his school things, his jacket and shoes around his room.
“I know that, but this is important, you gotta see this,” William said as he opened up the game’s start screen. John stared expectantly at the LCD monitor.
The opening intro consisted of several quick scenes: armor-clad knights dueling each other with the speed and choreography reminiscent of Star Wars lightsaber battles, mages hurling all manner of elemental attacks and energy blasts at each other with enough special effects to rival James Cameron’s Avatar, huge, heavily textured and detailed dragons laying waste to public baths and finally a scene where every other mythological creature in the game charged at each other in a furious mass melee, ending with all of them exploding into a golden mushroom cloud accompanied by a Hans Zimmer piece.
William was watching the intro with barely concealed tears. He loved the game so much that even just the intro made him uncharacteristically and overly emotional, even though he watched the intro a total of 13 times already on the internet. John was impressed with the intro as well, though he was far less moved by it than he was at seeing William’s look of pure joy.
After the intro movie, large, heavily stylized letters faded onto the screen. It read “Dragon Sorcerer Kingdom Wars” and then the lavishly decorated menu appeared. William was beside himself with glee and spent a minute opening all the menu options regardless if he changed any setting or not. John suspected he only did it so he could hear the sword sound effect that came on every time a menu was closed.
“I don’t get it, Will. It’s like you haven’t played this game before,” John said.
“Of course I haven’t, dummy! This is the only time I started!” William said nonchalantly.
“But I just thought that since you wanted to play this game so much that you already played it before you showed me,” John stated matter-of-factly. It was true that William’s eagerness was uncontrollable when it came to games. Usually, when William had a new game he wanted to show John, he’d already played enough of it that when they played together, John would always lose because William would already have experience playing it.
“Yeah well…I wanted to play it when you got here, so there,” William said this with a little note of anxiety on his face. He shifted uncomfortably in his computer chair and added, “I wanted you to see it and it wouldn’t have been as cool if I was already halfway into it…”
“Wow, you never did that before…” John muttered softly.
“What was that?”
“Nah, I was just saying how nice you are today,“ John said with a rather big grin.
William inadvertently blushed and quickly said, “Anyway, let’s make a new save already…”
For the next half hour, William made his character, and started at the beginner’s zone as John watched with mild interest.
“Hey, so should I get a sword, or a gun?”
“I thought knights didn’t even have guns in those times…?”
“Well, it’s more awesome that way. Hey, I know, I can’t choose, so I’ll just pick the gunsword.”
“How does a gunsword even work?”
“Does it matter so long as I can kill orcs?” William said with a laugh.
This went on a further 20 minutes, with William doing the first quests as John provided colourful and often sarcastic commentary. After William finished his third quest he insisted that John try it and make his own save.
“C’mon, just give it a go!” William replied after John declined.
“Nah, I’m good, I’m having fun just watching you,” John said with a sly smile.
“Yeah, you’re having fun mocking me, more like,” William feigned a pout and stuck his tongue out at John. Indeed, all the while he was playing, John loved to comment at William’s various mishaps, including one particularly funny incident when William got careless and got killed by a low-level farm pig. “Besides, it won’t be fair if I’m the only one who gets to play.”
John was taken aback. While William was generally a nice boy, he was still very much inclined to prioritize himself and his interests than anyone else’s, just as most boys normally would be. John was used to it and never complained because William’s self-interest wasn’t offensive or anything. This new sudden change in William surprised John. He’d seen how in the past few weeks William had been acting progressively nicer to him especially. John decided that he liked this newfound kindness in William and supposed that it was about time he appreciated their best friendship as much as he did.
After some time of playing his turn, with his Warlock Sorcerer Mage doing significantly better than William’s Aggro Knight Pirate, John announced that he had to go home.
“Man, you have a serious case of beginner’s luck!”
“Says you, pig fodder,” John said with a laugh.
“Whatever, you’ll see, I’ll be better next time around.”
“Suuure. Okay, see ya later, Will!”
William saw John off and went back to his game. For the next few days, William was engrossed heavily with Dragon Sorcerer Whatsit that he’d been noticeably forgetting about his homework, a fact that John hit him on the head for. On Friday night, William was playing as usual when suddenly…
“William, what’s wrong?” William’s mom had bounded up the stairs to his bedroom after hearing him give an audible scream.
“Mom, the game has these extra items that would be so super awesome but they cost real money to buy!”
“Well, son, I already bought that game for you, and if you didn’t reckon already, your father and I pay for the internet too. I don’t think I’m under any obligation to spend any more on that,” William’s mother said firmly. “Now, please, don’t make such a racket, your father and I would appreciate it if you let us have some peace and quiet in our own house, especially at eleven in the evening!”
“Mom, you have a credit card, right?”
“Can I –“
“No. Goodnight, son.”
She closed the door and left William to brood on his predicament. How could the best game ever do this to him? It was keeping him from enjoying fully and it annoyed him to no end. He thought about trying to get odd jobs on the neighbourhood to get money, but the game only accepted credit transfers. With resignation, he turned away from the game’s exclusive areas and items and played with less enthusiasm. After a while he quit the game and went to its support forums, where he ranted his frustration along with 6900 other irate players below the age of 18.
William was just about finished writing his 4th rant-filled message when he got a private message on his forum account. He checked it and saw that it was from another player, who, judging by the number of stars under his avatar, seemed to be of a high ranking in the game. Curiously, he read the message:
“Hey I saw your posts. Yeah, it does suck to have to pay for those when you don’t have money. But there’s a way. You know a player in your comrades list can share resources with you right? All you need to do is find one who can give you in game credits and you can get the exclusive material without paying for them.”
The player, who was named PBear1213, caught William’s interest. He
quickly wrote a reply:
“Dude, thanks so much for telling me this! But I don’t know anyone in the game yet though, I don’t know if anyone’s willing to spend real cash for a kid like me, and for free too.”
William hoped the player would reply immediately, and in a matter of minutes, which he spent staring at the screen expectantly, he got a reply.
“Well, you’re lucky Willy12, I’m that kind of guy. But it’s not totally for free though. You don’t have to trust me, but take my word for it. Here’s what you do: add my username to your comrades list. After a minute or so you’ll see that you already have in-game credits. You can buy the ‘elite aggro meth tonic’ with it. If you want more, then get Skype, add my username there and chat me up for what I want in return. Don’t worry, it’s not money. Do this all in an hour, and we got a deal.”
William was filled with apprehension. He was dead certain there was something dodgy about this deal, and that this total stranger was the kind he shouldn't be messing around with. His instincts told him to ignore it and accept his credit-less game, while the side of him that loved games vied for moral control.
His decision-making time didn't even last five seconds.