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Careful What You Wish For

Brendan Sears | 30 Dec 2008 13:22
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The birthday comes, and Bill's eyes glow as Mom tells him about the gift. He stares off into the six-layered ice cream cake and doesn't say a word. I know the look. The tumblers are falling into place as he performs mental gymnastics, calculating the new builds and gear available to him. He sticks the landing and the smile spreads ear to ear.

He says in a clear voice, the first time in months he hasn't spoken down into his chest, "I can make a really cool Monk who can't die and I can use him to farm for a few minutes a day and then I'll be set and have more than enough left over. Thanks Mom, thanks Dad, this is the best."

Mom utters her fallback line, picked up from an episode of Freakazoid years ago: "Sweetie, dear, you're boring us again."

The birthday boy composes himself and makes sure he enjoys the cake and company, though I notice his eyes drifting toward the computer room.

He logs onto his main, a warrior named Kraven the Badger, and spreads the good news. The guild sounds thrilled and starts combing the markets for the sigils and gear he needs to make his new character, an invincible monk who heals himself faster than baddies can kill him and reflects damage. The plan is to run solo for 15 or 20 minutes and reap the rewards. That'll provide him with a steady gaming income and free up his online time for adventuring and guild warring.


He gathers all he needs and, being an alt junky, loads up his healer alt, Funky Monkey. I am amazed as he types entire conversations in perfect grammar. Something seems odd though: Not a single person has asked for a handout. Over twenty names are flashing through the chat, all of them full of smiley emotes and advice. His mail-box is crammed with letters of congratulations, wishing him a happy birthday.


Three days later I get the phone call.

"It's gone. Bill's broke."

Mom's voice quavers, hitting a heart wrenching note between bewildered betrayal and righteous fury.

"They took it all. All of his friends, all those guild people you said were so nice, that he trusted and thought were good people. He was sulking around the house. I asked him how much he had left. He told me none. How does that happen? He lost it to people he trusted."

She's hurting for him. Not because his shiny new toy was stolen, but because he was had. By people who were more than friends: They were his comrades.

"Here's your father"

Dad is livid. His voice doesn't rise but carries intensity and paternal protection.

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