002.1 The Beta

“So,” with the usual finger to his glasses, Dapi assumed it was clear that this was the time for serious talk. “what do you think we should do with this beta?” 

“Well,” replied Charles, with a gleam in his eye, “friendzoning is the most typical outcome.”

Charles had prepared for the case that this meticulously crafted wordplay just seemed like some clumsy gaijin nonsense.  Just before Dapi could inhale through his nose, he continued:

“We need to reach out to alphas in the social sphere, in the other gaming communities.  We need to make friends but keep them at a distance, not too close so they start messaging us every day asking for free games, as it has been in the past, just create some friendly links so we can get more eyes on the product before the general press reviews.”

Now to Dapi, this part made sense.

“Sounds good,” he inquired, “but we will only have ten access codes to give out. What about our community guys?  Are you saying we shouldn’t give it to them?”

“Well, the bottom line is the hardcore fans are going to buy the game anyway, and their followers already know everything about the game, right?  They’ve probably seen leaks and discu-”

“What leaks?” interjected a suddenly sweating Dapi

“There are no leaks” there was a slight tremble in his voice as Charles remembered the last game launch and how he had nearly lost his job. He struggled onward: “I just mean, usually, these fans are going to dig through the game and find out everything very quickly if we give them early access. This game series is not new to them, we are not really exposing it to new potential customers. That is why I’m proposing completely new media sources.”

“Won’t they react badly though? Could this have an impact on our community relations?” 

“We could invite some of them to a private video showing or to the private press stream. Either way they won’t stay mad for long, they’ve been fans for years, I don’t think they will turn their backs on us now, I think they will understand.”

They looked over the list of potential streamers. 

The first one was a young woman who acted like a cat while playing various games.  This seemed fairly wholesome and they had a look at her channel.  As they watched her on stream, fully clothed (to Dapi’s disappointment) with her rather cute black cat ears, she chatted to her followers, making catisms such as “how you like me mieow”, “this is nya~t very good” and “can’t get no catisfaction” as she played a game destroying cities as a very familiar gargantuan reptile.  Dapi didn’t have time to think about copyright issues, that wasn’t his job, but these gaijins sure were carefree about these things.  He glanced over to notice that Charles had turned red.  Dapi found this amusing but had to ask the cause. “Sh-she, er, just announced she is opening a Skinchat channel.” Dapi could only guess from the word Skin that it would be liked but perhaps not appropriate material for good girls and boys. 

They moved onto the next, a bespectacled bearded man with puffy cheeks and long hair, who used a collection of lightsabres in the background to illuminate the room.  He was quite pleasant and relaxing to listen to, and had a million followers, as his character on screen sat in a toilet and shot people in the head as they visited the bathroom, over and over again.  The people in chat were commenting how nobody would win the game as the treasure was in the bathroom, much to their glee.  As it struck Charles that infinite ammunition was a ridiculous game design choice, Dapi frowned and asked to move on.  This streamer had been making casual racist comments as he shot Japanese players, and the chat had been echoing the sentiment. Gaijin scum, Dapi thought to himself, they’re all the same, such a headache.

The next streamer was a young man with a high forehead of pink hair, who randomly screamed some sort of catchphrase as he switched between various games as soon as he felt bored, which could take anything from five seconds to five minutes.  He was very very annoying but his chat was overflowing with reactions and comments and bots advertising thinly veiled adult content.  “How is this supposed to work?” asked Dapi, utterly confused. “He doesn’t actually quit the game, you see” said Charles as he pointed to the screen for no real reason at all, ”he will go back to it, and I don’t think he is really random, he is paying attention to the chat, if the activity slows down, he switches game.” Dapi looked at Charles: “Are you confident this sort of chat can stay interested in a fighting game?” Charles seemed confident, as he was used to presenting bullshit that he didn’t really believe in but had no alternative: “I believe he’ll feature our game for us, in return for getting the beta, it will be ok, and it will be new content, so how can anyone get bored, right?”  Dapi shivered. Still, he had to concede that the number of viewers was a great guarantee of reach.  

Putting ads in magazines and getting coverage in the media was expensive and becoming increasingly pointless.  Putting the game on the front cover didn’t guarantee anything these days, people simply could skip everything.  He remembered gathering round a magazine at school and talking to his classmates excitedly about the new games.  What were the kids doing now?  They just posted images in chat rooms, even as they sat next to each other.  He guessed it was the same for people and families.  Gaming magazines were almost dead now.  It was really sad, but at the same time, at least that meant he didn’t have to sit at another annoying lunch with that annoying journalist who was clearly disinterested and only perked up when he mentioned waifu-big-tiddy role playing games.

They continued through the selection of streamers: this one was a young man, who seemed to be making references to all the current memes and getting very excited over video game news. He seemed nice, even as he heard something about a new character, jumped up, threw everything off his desk and ran out into the street, into the darkness of the middle of the night and sat there, barking at the moon.  It was almost obviously orchestrated but the chat was going absolutely bonkers. 

Dapi felt more and more concerned. These streamers either spent their timing complaining or hating things, were too loyal to their game or just absolutely mad.  GAFY needed someone truly professional, someone who could sell out, just for a bit, at an affordable price. 

I could soooooo be a streamer, I should have started already, Alice thought to herself while some guy from another class whom she had vaguely seen around but never really talked to confess his feelings and asked if she would like to go out together. 

She blinked, as the reality sunk in. 

What is this shit? Was this a joke? This kind of stuff only happens in anime, right? She looked over her shoulder and checked the scenery for smirking faces staring through their camphones as they prepared for the revelry on their channels. It didn’t seem that anyone was around and moreover, nobody used bicycles and it was all going to rust.

Are you streaming this? She asked.

He looked up momentarily from the ground

Should we? I can get-

No, I don’t think you want to do that

The hope in his face fizzled away as he heard her tone. 

So… there’s no chance then

Do we… even know each other?  

She was getting angry, she honestly couldn’t believe it, this had to be a joke, when did anyone actually ever succeed to get a date this way, and no he wasn’t asking for a date, he was asking to be her boyfriend.  Like what the fucking fuck?

I know you, I’ve seen you at school, I think that you are beautiful and smart.

Ummm stalker much? 

He was startled by this.  This wasn’t going as planned.  She was supposed to be impressed, appreciative, understanding… he was offering to be her knight, he would protect her from-

“Hello?” She was about to rip into him but the hurt was quite clear on his face. Oh dear, boys are so fragile.  

Listen guy, I don’t know who put you up to this, but this just doesn’t work (the thought of accepting a marriage proposal from a hot rich guy definitely did not flitter through her mind).  I don’t even know you… sorry.

“Ok fine,” he said, holding back the tears, “I get it, I’m an idiot, a fool, you… you don’t have to be a bitch about it!”

She was about to laugh when she heard some cackling behind the corner. 

“You are streaming this, aren’t you.”

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