DescriptionInspired by Second Life.
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A Gaming IntroductionHarold led Wexler into a room on the left side of the store. The room contained terminals along the back wall and about ten loungers. All of the loungers had buttons and switches on both the right and the left arm rests. Harold guided Wexler to a lounger, had him take off his shoes, and sit back and make himself comfortable. He handed Bob a set of the goggles. "Now, Mr. Wexler," Harold began, "let me explain all of this to you. When you go into the game, you will go to a place called 'Noobie Island.' There you will meet another avatar that is an employee of DreamGame. He or she will help you to configure your avi, and then take you to a basic version of the simulation that you've chosen. The mentor will stay with you throughout your entire session. Okay so far?" "Got it." "Now," Harold continued, "I will be on a terminal monitoring your progress with the mentor. If I see anything I don't like or think that you are having real problems, I will pull you out of the game. But I won't participate. I'll just be watching you from one of those screens over there. Now, let's plug in these goggles and I will go and configure them." Bob plugged in the goggles to the receptacles on the back of the lounger. He tilted the chair back a bit and watched as Harold went over to one of the terminals. Harold logged in and began clicking and keying. The lounger came to life. Two small LED's on the upper corners of the opaque lenses turned on, and the buttons and the switches on the arms of the lounger all emitted a soft glow. Bob smiled; he thought that this might be fun. "Bob," asked Harold, "are you right-handed or left-handed?" "Right-handed." Harold keyed a few more commands and then walked back, smiling, to Bob in the lounger. "Now, Sir," he said, "you won't have access to all of the buttons for the first session. I've only given you a few. Let me tell you how they work." "Good idea." "Here," said Harold, showing Wexler how to place his hands, "is the way you place your fingers. Now, the button that your right index finger is on is the kill switch. Push it, and you immediately leave the game." "How do I push it?" asked Bob. "In game," said Harold, demonstrating, "just touch your right index finger to your right hip. Here. Just like this. Okay?" Bob nodded. "The second button," Harold continued, "activates the search engine. Your middle finger will rest on it. Once again, touch your right hip with your right middle finger in the game. When you activate the search engine, a banner appears, in game, over your head that says 'BUSY.' The search screen will fill your entire field of vision. With the third button, activated by the ring finger of your right hand, you can select categories, places, activities, and such. To turn off the search, just touch your right hip with your right middle finger again." "It seems easy enough." "It takes some getting used to," said Harold. "But, once you've gamed a few times, you will configure the buttons to your own preferences. Some people prefer to touch their earlobe, or their foreheads. It's all up to you. Now, for your left hand, we'll be using three buttons again." "What do they do?" asked Wexler. "Your index finger, Sir," explained Harold, "of your left hand activates 'PC,' or Private Conversation. Just touch your left index finger to your left hip. You can only initiate PC with people within a certain range. Once you activate it, you will go BUSY and be given a list of names. With the middle finger, scroll to a name, select it, and click. The person may refuse, but usually they don't. Oh, and a small yellow dot will appear in the extreme upper left of your field of vision. When it's blinking, someone is trying to contact you. When it's solid, you have an active PC going. When you're in PC, you talk normally, but only the person you're speaking with can hear you." "How do I terminate it?" asked Wexler. "Just click again with the left index finger. Now, Sir, you're only allowed two PC's at a time. And, once you're in a PC, you can speak with that person no matter where they go in the game." "And the third button?" asked Wexler. "Left ring finger to left hip, right?" "Yes, that terminates a PC," said Harold. "Now, Sir, the beauty of PC is that you can be gaming and PC at the same time. Most people don't though; it makes things to confusing. Ready to meet your mentor?" "Let's get started," said Wexler. Harold helped Bob put on the goggles and place the headphones over his ears. Then he plugged the jacks into the back of the chair. He placed Wexler's hands correctly on the buttons. He watched Detective Wexler settle back and then he crossed over to his terminal. He keyed in some commands and observed the screen intensely. Bob Wexler couldn't see a damned thing with the opaque lenses in place, and he couldn't hear much either with the headphones over his ears. Suddenly some soft music began playing. The lenses turned from opaque to a kaleidoscope of color. The colors disappeared, and Bob found himself standing in what appeared to be a comfortable cocktail lounge filled with people. A pretty girl approached. She appeared to be about twenty or twenty-one. She had dark eyes, a cute smile, a dimple on the left side of her cheek, and dark brown hair pulled into a thick braid that fell to her waist. She smiled at Bob, extended her right hand, and said, "Hello, Mr. Wexler. I'm Fatima." "Hi, Fatima," Bob responded, a bit shocked at the sound of his own voice. He took her hand; it felt a bit like soft cotton. It did not feel like human flesh. "Shall I call you Bob or Robert?" "Bob works fine." "Hey! Everyone," shouted Fatima. "This is Bob, a first-timer!" There were shouts of "Hello, Bob!" and "Welcome! Enjoy!" Bob simply waved back. This felt just a bit peculiar. Bob looked around a bit and grinned. Then he saw Fatima disappear in a puff of smoke. He was a bit shocked when his vision went black and then, a bold message appeared. "Fatima has invited you to join her at Sinbad's Mideastern Boutique. Click with your right ring finger to accept." Wexler touched his right ring finger to his right hip. His vision went black and then slowly came back to normal. He was in some sort of a store that, apparently, sold men's and women's Arabian Nights clothing. "Okay, Bob," said Fatima, "if you're going to do the Arabian Nights fantasy, you have to look the part. In succeeding sessions, you'll learn how to teleport, like I just did, and how to dress yourself and customize your avatar. For now, I'll do it. Oh, and you can have up to five aliases besides your regular name. For now, we'll just stick with Bob." "Fair enough." "Walk over to the mirrors." Wexler walked across the room to the three mirrors arranged in an arc. He looked like a twenty-one year old version of himself with the exception of being bald. He was dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a plain white t-shirt. In a few seconds, he was naked. The t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers quickly evaporated. "Don't be embarrassed, Bob," Fatima giggled. "This happens to first-timers quite often. Oh, and that penis is functional. Now, let me see how to set you up." Wexler blushed. In a few seconds, he was wearing dark brown pantaloons. A pair of black leather boots, coming to mid-calf, appeared next. A sleeveless khaki vest, open at the chest, appeared. Around his waist was a black sash. A small dagger popped onto the left side, and a leather purse on the right. Finally, a small gold chain appeared around his neck. "There," said Fatima. "That's not bad. There are some silver coins in the purse. You can use them to pay for things. As I said, in the next few sessions, you will learn to do this for yourself. Oh, and you can buy a custom-made avatar and clothing if you want. For now, you look pretty good. Let's get some hair on you." Bob looked at himself in the mirror; he looked presentable. He gasped when some hair appeared on his chest and arms. Next, short black hair appeared on his head, followed by a neatly trimmed black beard. Fatima finished his look with a golden earring piercing his left earlobe. "Not bad at all," thought Bob. "I do look a little like Sinbad." "Now, it's my turn," said Fatima. Bob stepped away from the mirror and allowed Fatima to enter. His jaw hit the floor when, in quick succession, sneakers, jeans, blouse, bra, and panties disappeared. There was a lovely early twenties woman in front of him. He stared in amazement as sandals appeared on her feet. Next came a black top that looked just like it belonged to a bikini. A black bikini bottom appeared next, and that was covered in sheer and loose black leggings. A gold chain wound in her hair, with a purple stone hanging on her forehead. Finally, a matching black veil covered her mouth. "Well, that's it for now," said Fatima. "I will be your slave. There is one other thing, but I will attach it when we get to where we are going." "And where's that?" asked Bob. "The port city of Haifa," said Fatima. "Ready?" Bob watched as she disappeared. In a few seconds, the teleportation message appeared on his screen. He responded, "YES" and headed to Haifa.