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Stories Behind the Stories:

First Person Shooter

Sometimes, there is nothing quite as terrifying as real life, and in dreams or not, the most frightening of individuals can walk among us and create absolute havoc in everyday scenarios.

This is about the creation of a little story I call First Person Shooter.

This tale of drugs and games came to me over a series of nights as I was binge playing a popular first person shooter game on multiplayer format. There were several players in the various lobbies I was placed in, that had been playing steadily for a couple of days straight. There were many more players who had such verbally violent reactions to missing a kill or being the kill that it made me wonder what they were like in real life - on the other side of that video game. Were their fuses just as short in person?

Several other players were admittedly open about their drug use while playing, talking about how it made them better players or more attentive to the game.

I had to question why it was so easy for some people to snap into a rage over a video game, and then I had to worry over the possibility of that snap - that rage - exploding from one of the players on a chemical trip.

The idea was horrific. Yet, I saw this as an opportunity - as a warning - to share my concerns in a way that would hopefully enlighten others to the threat as well. With the growing amount of gun violence in America, the terror thickens.

And so came the story of JD, a man addicted to first person shooter games and had progressed fairly well through them. JD had to be a character that resembled someone the reader might know. He was a slacker, a pothead, and his love for beer was heavy. He was scruffy, in his twenties, and had no job. He had a girlfriend, but as the story developed, I learned that her separation from him was what truly helped to show exactly the sort of man JD was. When she was gone, he barely noticed.

The introduction of a chemical drug into the story was pivotal with the growing epidemic of research chemicals flooding the black market. JD's willingness to try the drug although he did not know what it was demonstrates the possible self-destructive actions of those with addiction trouble.

With the effects of the unknown drug and the escalation of his position on the leader board, the death of the game brings about a traumatic change in JD's state of mind. Something inside of him snaps - or perhaps it pauses. Even though the game has burned out, JD is still playing.

JD is one of my most tragic characters. When he does wrong, he does not realize what he is doing. He's oblivious to reality. To him, his apartment complex is just another board in a multiplayer game of a first person shooter. To him, the residents are no more than other players, hiding behind their avatars, ready to fire upon him at their best opportunity.

All JD wants is to rank first on the leader board...

A few days before First Person Shooter was scheduled for release, the massacre in Las Vegas occurred. In respect for the fallen and the grieving, the release was held. I wanted to hold it until the time was right, but in today's society of random gunfire and senseless murder, there is no right time. First Person Shooter is intended to show what is already known - what can happen when addictions bend the mind a little bit too far, past the point of no return.

I eventually released First Person Shooter with limited promotion, and then pulled it after just a few months of availability. The story is now set to be included in the horror anthology Under Timmy's Bed

Those who appreciate horror for horror will appreciate First Person Shooter for what it is, and that is a horror story that sadly reflects our modern age in a way that will, for many out there, hit too close to home.

 

Jae El Foster