Bitter 567

It wasn’t only at school that the game was becoming big news. Every gaming site had articles on it, which was to be expected, and so did every news site.

Unlike last time, though, it wasn’t just about the cool concept or the realistic graphics, this time there were numerous links to official and unofficial websites dealing with the game and how to be successful while playing it.

Up until now, APE had kept a tight lid on external services dealing with the game. Other than a few rumours, it was very hard to find any details. There were Dad’s videos you could watch, but they were under tight supervision, and they were very much a second-hand experience. Third- hand, even.

But now there were a whole slew of sites you could check out for insider information. Those detailing the different classes, various abilities, ways to level up. And also those dealing with the hardware and various items you could buy to make your gaming experience more immersive.

Some of it was very vague, and in some cases flat wrong, but there was a lot more information available than when Britta had started. New players would at least know where to go when they first entered the game.

But there was also a lot missing. None of the problems with trying to level-up were mentioned anywhere. Neither was the issue of rival servers competing against each other.

Britta sat in her bedroom with the laptop showing her the different links simply by being asked to. It knew all the best places to get information, which made Britta wonder if all these sites weren’t all really subsidiaries of APE and its parent company. She wouldn’t have been surprised if they tried to keep control of their product by pretending to be both supporters and critics. Easier to find the troublemakers that way, and also the biggest fans willing to pay the most money.

It didn’t really matter either way. It wasn’t as if independent sites were averse to playing ball with games companies if it meant more content for their readers. Dad was always going on about how unreliable reviewers were once they were compromised by needing the games companies patronage. You couldn’t get clicks if all the latest exclusive early peeks were on some other site, and if you pissed off the big companies with a mean review, you would be blackballed.

So it was even more surprising when she came across Dad being interviewed on one of those sites — actually one that he criticised all the time for biased and overly-positive reviews of crappy games — with regard to his videos.

It was a print interview, so he didn’t appear and his voice wasn’t heard, but his game name was used, and it was obviously him as soon as she read the first answer.

Q: Tell me, Guildford, the game is impressively realistic, but once the novelty wears off, is there enough to keep the customer satisfied?

GU: Yes. Definitely, yes. Wandering around is impressive, as you would imagine, but it’s the interactions with the world that will surprise people. You don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate what you can do in New World that you can’t in this one. No one can tell you what to do, and you can do anything. This is what a sandbox should be.

Britta read through the whole interview. Dad said surprisingly little about the actual experience of playing. Perhaps his answers had been vetted, or maybe he just didn’t want to give people any information they could use to improve themselves. He was still a player, after all, and they were his competition.

There were also more videos by other people. These varied in style and content, some showing off the lush scenery, others focusing on nature and the weird fantasy creatures. There were players who had focused their builds on being acrobatic and agile, who managed to get into seemingly unreachable places, up mountains and on rooftops.

The views were spectacular, the creatures unbelievable. That was maybe part of the problem. No one would believe you could really sneak up on a unicorn in a woodland glade. But someone had done it, and they had the footage to prove it. Which could easily have been faked, so proved nothing.

Everything she saw was from New World. That was the only name used, and all the videos and players interviewed came from there. How was it possible that no one was talking about the Legendary World server?

Even if APE wanted to focus on the Western server for the Western audience, could they really shut down on any attempt to talk about the other communities playing the game? Were the nerds not interested?

It seemed very unlikely that the internet would ignore such a massive component of the game. The video of the Chinese players had already been seen, so people knew they existed. Did they think it was just another part of New World? Go far enough east and you’d find them?

What kind of power did you need to manipulate the entire internet like that? And why even bother? People would find out eventually. It didn’t make much sense.

Britta’s phone rang, which in itself was an unusual occurrence. She checked the name on the screen and got a lump in her throat. It was Lin, and while that was no cause for alarm, she couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous. She had glitched the game, after all. She could be about to be fired and lose her extremely lucrative contract. Although it was unlikely Lin would be the one to inform her of that.


“Britta, hi. It’s Lin, here. How are you?” Her voice was silky smooth and supremely confident. Even if Britta managed to emulate the kind of education Lin had, she would never be able to be so suave, she was sure.

“I’m fine, thanks. Erm, how are you?”

“Wonderful. Are you busy right now? You don’t have a tutor coming over tonight?”

Britta didn’t recall ever telling Lin about her tutors, but it wasn’t that surprising that she knew about it.

“No, not tonight.”

“Excellent. I’d like to invite you to dinner. There are some things I’d like to talk to you about. Can I send a car for you in an hour?”

“Oh, ah, okay. I mean, I suppose so. I should really…”

“I’ve spoken to your mother, she’ll be joining us, if that’s alright?”

Everything was taken care of, nothing to worry about. She could tell whatever this was about, it would be handled with the utmost competence and grace.

“Yes, that sounds lovely,” said Britta, feeling at ease. “See you then.”

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