The beta is starting this weekend, apply now for exclusive access!
The words hovered across the ripped chest of Fighter Man as he stood against an empty background, inviting you to try and hit him, of course he’d likely parry it and send you crying home to your mama. Fortunately, this event was more about using Fighter Man to send other fighter men and women home, or other places, crying, or in other emotional states. The trailer continued on to advertise that there was not just fighting, but walking around in a virtual world, buying virtual clothes and eating virtual hot dogs, before your avatar could sit down to play a fighting game. It was like Inception, but clearly nonsense that made sense. People could simply play a game, but playing a game inside a game was simply way cooler.
Alice took note of the view count and comments; how many people were interested. There was a good amount of clicking as the feed spilled around. The trailer was crossing streams quickly, as she went to other channels, the pop up seemed to follow her, asking again and again to not pass up the chance, and of course, it was “all for free!!!”
Well, she thought, this could be real exclusive virtual content. Like, really real.
Well, there were no gobble or other social points requirements that she could see, so she filled in the form.
She had a mind to message xx7, as she had probably applied too.
“Hails to the folk yeah,” replied xx7 with an audio message. “Fingers crossed, those crossed and anything else I can get my hands on.”
There was a yelp in the background and the audio ended. Alice considered that xx7 couldn’t be bothered to have the time to waste on listening to something twice but pressed the button and hoped it wasn’t displaying her activity on the other side.
“Hells to the fuck yeah, Fingers crossed, toes crossed and anything else I can get my hands on. (Yelp)”
Now at first it sounded like a dog but now she wasn’t so sure and there was the noise of the fighter jets overhead obfuscating everything.
Another message came in from xx7. “It’s fucking bullshit though, a whole load of guys in London got their key coz they’re all friends with the community manager there. You can see the French complaining right now lmao.”
Alice dove into the feed.
Indeed, shit was popping off. Mickey3453 posted that he had been playing since he was a kid, and going through his bio and pronouns, he had a pretty big following in France, like 100k followers and a funny pink hat. But no key, she thought to herself, so this really is a lottery for the rest of us?
Suddenly more posts pooped up, oh no, she thought, she must have stared too long at one, the algorithm was serving it as a side dish.
“I got one!” posted some rand.
“What the fuck why havent i got one?” posted another, “ive got a tattoo of this game on my tadger ffs!” Alice didn’t have much of an attention span, but this was intriguing enough, and she read the reply. “Please don’t tell me a tadger is what I think it is, I’ve fapped to your pics, you know!” She wanted to read the unfolding story but it was then that Alice felt a glare from the mirror. It was just herself, staring at her face, her skin, which was starting to itch. She looked closer into the mirror, there was a reddening on the side of her nose. Oh fuck no. She repeated this internally as she ran to her drawer. She applied some cream to the area, adjusted her shirt, pulled the hem down tight, waited for the cream to dry, and powdered it over. Seemed okay. She looked herself over, seems okay. Just, not great. Deep breath.
Her phone flashed again. It was xx7.
“Hey Al, check out ebay.” she said. “What for?” She replied, trying to guess what for. “Search for the Fighter Man key!” came the next audio. “What?” she shot back as she held down the record button, as she thought to herself how that sounded like a complete waste of time. But as expected, “Just do it!” blared out of her phone speaker. “Ugh, just share me the link please!” she asked, as she just could not deal, right now.
The link arrived, and she looked it up. There it was, the ripped chest, with a price tag that would make Willy Wonka shudder.
“Holy shit” was all Alice could say, aloud, but she hadn’t recorded it. So she simply wrote: “475 dollars?”, as she didn’t want to even speak anymore. “What in the shit?” she added; Alice’s phone dictionary was having a seizure at this grammar. She ignored the requests to correkt it, as she felt like it was one of the few ways she could flip the bird, from time to time. “Well, hey,” xx7 replied, “there’s another one for 200,” the sass in xx7’s voice was peaking: “that’s better than half price, right?”
What the hell. Were people prepared to pay for a key that would allow them to play a game for just the weekend? No way, that’s crazy. That’s stupid. She thought. Then she thought about how much cash a streamer could possibly get from making content. Maybe it was worth it? Could this be an actual investment? She could even film herself buying it, and make a documentary or something.
“Somebody fucking bought the key, wait, holy fucking shit, they’re all gone!!” xx7’s voice was genuinely shocked, yet tinged with glee, not really comprehending the global gravity of the situation, like she had just seen the Kerch bridge explode.
Whose mind that word ran through, is not important.
Alice checked her email. Nothing. Okay, she didnt really care about this stupid key.
She checked through her spam folder, wading through essay generators, AI fashion assistants and cosmetics for cheap. The Ai bot for social media looked interesting though… but she wasn’t falling for the “cheap unlimited access to moviestremes.com”. She shuddered as she had had to explain to her paren- her mum, that she had been scammed and needed help to cancel the subscription, as every time she pressed quit, another window popped up…
Alice didn’t want to talk to xx7 anymore, it was annoying. She had a feeling she should work on something, make content or do some homework, no, fuck that, but do something, post something, yeah. She did a final search on the web to see if anyone had posted an exploit that for any reason, nobody else had tried.
“Yo, someone made 250 dummy accounts and got bare keys!”
Could she make 250 email addresses and fake details to go with? Oh wow that is long…. She felt more annoyed and her fingernails dragged over the keys, with a scritchy scritch and clunky clunk, as the keys bounced back up.
“Someone just got robbed in their home for a key, oh my daze!”
“Someone was entering the key on their live stream and a viewer just put it in faster! Daylight savagery!!”
“I met some dude on Terrybuy in an underground car park last night to buy a key but they powerbombed me and stole my money. The doctor says it’s fatal, and my mother is furious. Can someone give me a key before I die?”
“Dude it’s random like gacha, Mr Wifebeater and Incelracist both got codes, while they’ve been banned from future tournaments so what’s the point? Aaaa core values!!!”
Alice began to feel the air grow heavy and her sight dim, she had to stop for the night. She closed the lid of her laptop. The situation reminded her of a song, a playground, and her father’s voice, calling her name, And with that, she felt the anger returning. No, it wasn’t time to stop. She had to fight, she had to continue, she had to win. She slapped her hands down on the desk. The fire was burning, however, she knew not what to do with it. The question was how to make something from nothing, and then she realised. She had nothing. She opened the laptop, and the screen woke up quite fast, not as immediately as she would like, a bit like the insides of a toaster. Finally, after five very long seconds, she could begin.