Riding the bus one day, I found myself by chance seated across from a gamer. Being a bit on the anti-social side of the spectrum, I minded my own business. I spent the bus ride as I usually do, pecking away at the keys on my aging netbook. Oddly enough however, this piqued his interest.
“Do you have any games on that thing?” He asked.
I shook my head. “It doesn’t really have the memory for anything like that.” I replied. “I mostly use it for writing.”
“Cool,” He said, leaning toward me across the aisle. A sour, sweaty smell hit me. Judging by the visible greasiness of his hair, he hadn’t showered recently. I sighed inwardly; of all the gamers I stumble upon, I meet a stereotype. “What do you write about?”
“A bit of fiction.” I shrug. “I do some freelancing for a few game websites too.”
His eyes light up. “Could you get me some work?” He leans further across the aisle, his abdomen just barely touching the seat. A bump in the road, a deep pothole; I fear any sudden jostling will dump this guy right onto the floor.
“Well,” I start tentatively. I don’t know this guy’s name. I don’t know his age. The only thing I know about him is that he doesn’t possess much in the way of social boundaries. “I’m not a very big writer and my work isn’t very consistent.” I can see the beginnings of disappointment forming in his eyes. I inexplicably feel bad, “Do you have any experience?”
“I post on forums a lot.”
“Well, if you want to do this kind of thing you might want more experience then that.” I reply. “I volunteered at a few places for a couple of years before anyone would pay me.”
“Yeah okay!” He’s oddly breathless. “Could you get me some work?”
I sigh inwardly. My patience is not endless.
“Probably not,” I reply. “It’s hard to get paying work and even if you can get in touch with a bigger site, they’re more than likely just going to tell you no.”
“That sucks.” He exclaims. “No reviews or anything?”
“Review work is really hard to get.” I reply.
“But they wouldn’t even have to give me a game.” I raise a quizzical brow. “I could just torrent it and use that.” I roll my eyes. My patience has reached its limit.
“Yeah, I don’t think they’d like that.” I reply, annoyance edging its way into my voice. “Most places like to keep things legal.”
He rolls his eyes. “That’s stupid. It’s so much cheaper to just download stuff. I have all the Final Fantasy’s, Call of Duty, Halo. You name it and I’ve got it! I didn’t have to pay a dime.”
I consider explaining to him the myriad of ways that he’s helping to bankrupt the industry, but I decide to hold my tongue. My ability to be verbally articulate drops off a cliff when I get annoyed and chances are any points I make would fly right over this guys head. Nonetheless, whatever pity I might have held for this poor soul has slipped like an amputee gone ice skating. I hate piracy. Moreover, I despise the nonchalance with which people like this guy approach it. The more delusional pirates will at least try to justify themselves. I doubt this guy would ever care enough to even try.
He holds out his wrist. “I’m totally getting a Zelda tattoo.” He practically beams with pride. “The fucking Tri-Force right here.”
I offer a disinterested brow raise and start typing again. Perhaps dissuaded by my disinterest, he ceases his prattling and turns back to staring at his Vans sneakers. The bus continues on its course, stopping every few minutes to let off and take on passengers. Jostled by a few potholes my attention is occasionally brought back to the passing scenery. We pass the University of Vermont. Its campus is brimming with busy-bodied students, strutting past with the unknowing arrogance of college. At a least a third believe they’ll change the world even as they sip on coffee farmed by dollar a day workers and served by baristas making little better than minimum wage.
My pretentious cynicism is interrupted as the bus comes to another stop. Gamer guy rises to his feet. He grins another dumb grin at me as he swings his bag over his shoulder. “It was cool talking to you man! Call me if you can find me some work!” He walks down the aisle and practically hops down the stairs. I watch as he strolls onto the college campus and disappears into the sea of people. I am reminded somehow of all the “You are the future” speeches I had to listen to during my own college orientation.
Maybe the Republicans are right and the world really is doomed.