I. The worst thing about being a lifelong fan of video games, he considered, was not knowing any other lifelong fans. He was deeply immersed in gaming culture but couldn't share this enthusiasm or knowledge with anyone around him. He could reel off a thousand gaming references that would sail right over people's heads, as if it had come out of Little Jacob's mouth. Like that, for example, they wouldn't get that.
This was too bad because he was convinced some of the thoughts he had about video games were hilarious. He could come up with great video game-related jokes, but nobody could truly appreciate their brilliance.
For instance, he had recently started dating a girl named Jennifer, and coincidentally his last serious girlfriend had also been called Jennifer. Thus, this new girlfriend was the 'next Jen'. Though he was the only one who understood this reference, he liked to say it all the time. It made him laugh when he first realised the connection, and he got very excited about furthering the comic association: in what other ways was his girlfriend like a new console generation?
He decided that, appropriately, this new Jen was definitely a lot prettier than her predecessor. More responsive, and she sounded nicer, too, so it was definitely an upgrade on those fronts. She had enhanced... fidelity? No, strike that, that didn't work. Tighter controls? Well, that sounded weird. Whatever, it was enough to say that the new Jen was shinier and more attractive. On the flipside, however, some might say that the last Jen was actually a lot deeper, a little smarter and this new Jennifer was a little too accessible, maybe a bit easier. None of this was actually terribly accurate to the women in question but it was the only way that the joke would work. Meanwhile, Jennifer wished that this guy wouldn't talk about video games or his ex-girlfriend quite so much.
II. When Jennifer heard him stumble drunk into her apartment at 3 a.m., audibly trip over something in the kitchen and pass out on her couch, she knew that the weekend had officially begun. When she heard him yelling at her roommate to shove it, she knew also that she would soon have to start looking for a new roommate.
Jennifer stood over him in her nightgown looking unimpressed and stated that clearly he had a drinking problem. He said that he didn't have a drinking problem; he just couldn't drink without throwing up. This made him giggle. Jennifer called him a blackout drinker. This was a term that the last Jen had also been fond of using and she cited it numerous times when she broke up with him.
"You are killing yourself," they both had said. He protested that he's in control of it and besides, it's not like he's into harder stuff. It's not like he does cocaine, he said. Not like he shoots up. Not like he does rails. He cracked up at this. "I don't shoot rails. I'm not a rail shooter. A rail shooter! Ha ha! House of the Dead!"
While Jennifer remained impassive, he laughed and laughed, convulsing and clutching his sides, until he fell off the couch and vomited all over himself.
III. With great reluctance, he voluntarily admitted himself into a rehab center. This decision came after a very serious conversation with his family and coworkers. Jennifer was out of the picture at this point but had temporarily resurfaced to strongly agree that he needed to seek treatment.
Checking into the clinic, they took his iPhone, his DS and his PSP. Among the things that the staff mentioned was that he would have to start attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He also knew it by its shorthand: AA.
This got him going. He knew, obviously, that there were triple-A games, expensive, commercial titles. He'd even read in somebody's blog post about 'single-A' games, indie titles with smaller teams and budgets but resembled those big-budget titles with reduced scope. But nobody had ever thought about what a double-A game might be, and this was obviously it.
What would you do in an AA game, he wondered. This was potentially a rich area for comedy. There'd be a lot of dialogue, he guessed, confessional stuff from NPCs and the overall quest would be less about saving the world and more about saving yourself. Of course, there would be twelve levels.
There was so much potential and as he began to explain this entire concept he looked at all the grave faces around him, realised where he was, and none of it seemed very funny anymore.