At about 2.30am I wake from a dream about my enemies. Nothing too bad, just the normal anxiety of an on-line gamer. My exploits on-line in MMOG worlds have not been so great, mostly because I’ve been trying to cut back.
I remain still and listen to Helen breathing beside me. She’s spark out so I ease myself upright and look at her. Though she is dreaming, unconcerned, tired out from work, I always think I can see disapproval there. Is there a crease between her eyebrows? Is she frowning at me?
It was at her word that I tried to cut back on my time on-line, I was getting to bed five hours after she turned in, waking her up or just never in sync. I guess she’s right about that, we’re on a road to a sad end if I kept it up. Her unemployed internet gaming loser boyfriend.
In the next room I can feel my laptop calling to me. I’ve been taking these early cat-naps. Heading to bed at the same time as Helen, she seems really pleased about this and I like that. But I sleep during the day while she is at work too – she thinks I get up early to search for work on-line and I do help maintain her site sometimes. It’s only simple stuff that doesn’t take long.
I slowly slip out of bed, trying not to disturb the covers or make anything creak to wake her. Ten minutes later I’m on the couch with the news on silent and browsing the web following tid-bits from my feed. I tend to pick up interesting new tech and fun stuff. It’s important to at least keep abreast of what’s coming up, so when that job interview does happen, I’ll know what to talk about.
Looks like my feed is broken through. Running down the screen is a series of apparently broken links and non titles. I click on one to see what’s happening. <gamer 45> ??. 19.11
Turns out the link is not broken after all, but the page that comes up is not familiar to me. I can’t even work out what sort of wrong it might be.
I’m not a coder, I’m not even sure if this is code. It reminds me of a directory page, sort of. But I don’t know enough about it to really be interested for more than the average 5 seconds. I’m about to shut the page and find out what’s happening in the game when I notice there is a cursor on the page and it’s blinking. A bit like writing a document or waiting for me to write.
I mouse over to the cursor and hover. I wouldn’t know what to write. But then who would care if I changed something anyway? It’s not as though I can break anything there.I’m about the click in and maybe write another 23 when the line begins to write itself.
<gamer 45> What do you think?
I wait, wondering if maybe this is a sort of chat room I’ve opened and just not recognised the page. The cursor blinks on and I wait for the answer. I wonder who they are talking to. Nothing happens for a while and I rest my hands on the edge of the keyboard thinking of making some smart ass reply.
The cursor returns to the next line and writes something I didn’t expect.
<Chancery Lane> Is it all guesswork?
That’s my screen name, Chancery Lane. I use it everywhere, my gravitar, my network icon and screen names. Is someone impersonating me? I don’t know this network and I don’t know “gamer 45”. I’m a bit rattled and annoyed that someone might be using my name. I take a breath, about to mutter to myself when my Gtalk pings into life. It’s Neil – screen name Masterass, something he still clings to from older web chat room days.
Masterass: Bender! What are you doing? Your missus know you’re up?
Chancery Lane: Nope, she’s asleep.
Masterass: She’s going to peg you mate, she’s a smart cookie…
Chancery Lane: I know. 😦
Masterass: ..and then I shall move in and show her real lovinnnn!! 🙂
Chancery Lane: Right. If she gets pissed at a dullard like me, she’s not going for care in the community like you mate.
I look at the web page I had open earlier and click into it. Having Neil on-line with me has lent me courage.
The second I click in and <Chancery Lane> pops up. The cursor waits for me to type.
Wait, so that’s me there now? I’m more than a little confused. I hit the space bar, thinking. Then the cursor returns to the next line.
<Alexandria> Welcome. Are you going to join in this game?
The cursor returns and winks at me expectantly. A game? Now that I can understand a little better. I’m about to ask how and get as far as my screen name when the screen changes again and an audio file starts to auto play. It’s the sound of a woman laughing. Giggling, playful but a bit mean. I feel tricked and not sure what to do next. I turn the speaker down and watch the file play out, repeating. When it’s ended it returns to the start and plays again. It’s annoying.
I open the window where I was chatting with Neil but his green dot is grey, he’s logged out. I stop the audio player and frown at the window. What game?
Concerned about the security of my feed, I feel weary. I’ll look at my firewall tomorrow maybe. I need to go back to bed so I can “wake up” with Helen. As with most late night activity on-line, this will all seem a bit silly in the morning.