Chapter 54: Game Character, Game Player
‘Are you playing games’ was something mom always said when he was young. At the time, he would hide in his own little room playing games, and his mom would show up unannounced from time to time to check him out. If he was doing his homework, then his mom would praise him; if he was playing games, then his mom would throw the phrase above and followed it up with a long bout of criticism.
This was a very common phrase.
However, this very common phrase had suddenly become not so common, because the person who was saying it… was inside a game.
Yue Qiang felt wrong from head to toe.
This feeling was a bit like… it was a bit like playing King of Fighters in single player mode using the character Yagami against the CPU Kusanagi. Kusanagi did not taunt Yagami, but instead taunt him outside the monitor and said: Can’t even chain a triple Aoibana? Just watch me kick your ass!
No no no, the analogy was unsuitable. If he was to describe this feeling from Yin’s point of view… then it would be like his mother entering his room unannounced and discovering that he was playing games instead of studying. She did not criticise him, and instead say: You’re a bunch of meaningless data, so I might as well delete you. Then he, the data, was deleted completely from the world without leaving behind a trace.
That was it!
Yue Qiang closed his eyes firmly and shook his head hard in attempt to flush out the absolutely terrible feeling. He forced himself to calm down and placed both hands back on the keyboard. He typed a few words, “Yes, I am playing a game.”
“Truthfully, I am a bit scared as well.” Yin went silent for a long time before saying, “This fear comes from the unknown.”
When Yue heard from the girl behind the screen that she was a bit scared as well, he didn’t know why, but his fear suddenly faded quite a bit. From the moment the girl had appeared in a sudden, to the moment when all their enemies were dead, the girl had always faced every situation with a calm expression no matter how dangerous it was. Even though she was met with several sure death situations, she was so calm she did not appear like an ordinary person at all.
However, at this moment, when the girl had admitted openly that she too was a little scared, Yue Qiang realized that she really was just a little girl, and a delicate one that needed to be looked after no less. At the very least, this girl really seemed like a real person; far more than anyone he had met in the real world.
A human that was most human-like, was instead inside a game.
Inside the game, Yin continued to sit on the floor in a fetal posture, closing her eyes somewhat helplessly and saying, “I do not know why I am suddenly in this cave. I do not know anything that happened before I arrived to this place. When faced with imminent danger, I can only use every energy I have to resolve it. But once everything is over, and I’ve settled down, I would feel… an indescribable sense of loneliness and fear.”
She continued, “It’s not just that. When I realize that everything about you is in slight dissonant with this world, when I realize that you may… be a person from outside the world, this fear grew even worse.”
Yue Qiang could feel her loneliness. It was very easy for him to imagine himself standing in her place and understand her feelings: to appear for an unfathomable reason within a cave full of corpses, with no one or nothing familiar around to hold on to; to not remember anything that happened to herself, with her one and only temporary teammate indirectly verifying her assumptions that she was inside a game, and that she may turn into a bunch of data at any moment… there was no way one wouldn’t feel that kind of loneliness and fear once they’d settled down.
As for Yue Qiang himself, this feeling was even more tangible.
That’s because the real world he’s in was far less realistic than the game itself.
He sat in front of the computer, controlling his mouse and keyboard and operating his character to live and explore inside the game’s world. Every person inside the game was very interesting, and very realistic. Moreover, they were only getting more and more realistic.
Yue Qiang blanked out for a little.
It was at this moment Yin spoke up again, “I think that you have met with a very difficult, and perhaps even very terrifying problem in that world. Am I right?”
Yue Qiang was quiet for a long time before he typed and responded, “Yes.”
“Do you have any way of solving it?”
“I… do not have a clue.”
“I think that the cause of this change must be the game, am I right?” Yin’s tone was just as leveled as before. She analysed calmly, “Although the entire world has undergone a change, and this change far exceeded an average person’s imagination, but there should always be a cause to every effect. If you do not have a clue, then why don’t you start at the source of the change and search slowly. As you said earlier… the world I am in, is in fact a game to you. Then the key to this problem must be inside the game as well!”
The key to this problem must be inside the game as well. It wasn’t the first time Yue Qiang heard about this.
That mysterious fitness coach Luqiu Duanyi had once reminded him about something similar, and her advice had been even more specific than Yin’s, “Only by increasing your own strength, will you be able to resolve everything”. These were her words. Not only that, Luqiu Duanyi had even helped to increase his stats massively and learn two very powerful skills. As compared to Yin, Luqiu Duanyi seemed to know a lot more, but it’s just that she couldn’t say anything because she needed to suppress the blue progress bar.
Yin did not have such concerns because she was inside the game already. Moreover, she was a very smart girl.
“Do you have any ideas?” she asked.
“I think… that I might have been hypnotised, or even better, I may just have been dreaming all this time. Once I wake up from the dream, or once the hypnosis is over, then I will wake up and realize that everything is just a friend’s joke after all.”
Yin shook her head seriously, “That is an absolutely impossible explanation.”
“Whenever something strange or illogical happens, it is an incredible irresponsible behavior to explain it off as a dream or hypnosis.” Yin gave emphasis to her tone and said, “The occurrence of any phenomenon must have a reason behind it. If it cannot be explained, then either it is very possibly due to insufficient reserve of knowledge, or more commonly, the lack of sufficient information.”
“The change originated from this game, so the clue to resolve this problem must appear inside this game as well.” Yin said with certainty, “Tell me about this game. Perhaps I may be able to help you find some details that you missed. Then we may be able to walk out of this dilemma.”
“Alright, from the moment I enter this game, I have been doing this main questline…” Yue Qiang began to describe his experiences inside the game in detail. His explanation was incredibly detailed, and he without reserve, he talked about the game’s super realistic graphics, sound effects, equipment, skills, NPCs with personalities, way to raise one’s strength… everything.
Yin listened quietly throughout the explanation, and from time to time she would nod her head. After he was finished, she said, “You explanation is very detailed, and from some of the things you said, I should be able to make a lot of deductions. Among them, the one I am most interested in is the term you spoke of at the beginning – realistic. Can you describe exactly how realistic this game is?”
“Very realistic. I cannot find any trace of pixels or textures, and in fact, I suspect that if I have a microscope right now, I may be able to see the bacterias on the ground.” Yue Qiang pondered for a moment before giving out his opinion.
“You are playing on a computer, aren’t you?”
“Has the computer been restarted?”
“Although there are still plenty of questions, I can basically assume that the place I’m in, that is the place behind your screen, should be a real world. At the very least, I don’t need to worry that I will become a rootless data and vanish the second you pull the plug on the computer.”
This was the only explanation. Yue Qiang closed his eyes, and pondered.
Yin’s deduction that ‘the game is a real world’ was also something he had been guessing all this time, and at this point, he could almost completely confirm this assumption already. However, there were still many things that could not be explained.
“If we assume that this place is a real world, and that your computer has become a device that connects your world and the game world, this train of thought can definitely answer a lot of questions clearly. However, there is a very critical question that cannot be ignored!”
“This question is,” Yin let out a long breath, “your main quest!”
“It is absolutely inexplicable for a main quest to appear in a real world.” she said, “To use your real world as an example, it is very normal for everyone to go to school, go to work, and live their everyday lives. There’s absolutely no chance that something like a main quest demanding XXX follow a bunch of clues to defeat a certain boss and dominate the entire world to appear out of nowhere. On the other hand, ‘main quest’ is something that will only happen inside a game.”
Yin’s words were irrefutable. She took the train of thought a step further and said, “Games can be split into many kinds. Is it possible, that this ‘main quest’ can happens inside an ‘online game’?”
Yue Qiang thought over this question and said with certainty, “Not possible. An online game is actually something like a fantasy world. There will be all kinds of NPC issuing quest to search for treasures, explore the world and so on, but there does not exist an absolute main quest. The closest thing to it may be the so-called ‘World Quest’, but even that is just an event where the players of the entire server are gathered to beat a World Boss. In reality, the only main quest in an online game is leveling up.”
“But you said that the characters of this game cannot level up.”
Yin said with a positive tone, “Therefore, this game should be a single player game. Only a single player game would have a clear cut main quest, and when the main quest is completely finished, then the game will also end!”
“And you, are the only player of this single player game!”
The only player, the only player… Yue Qiang quietly muttered these three words inside his heart. Suddenly he asked, “What about you? Why aren’t you a player?”
“I am definitely not a player.” Yin said without any hesitation, “I know what you want to ask. I am definitely not the kind of player whose consciousness has slipped into a certain game world, but their body’s are still somewhere outside. I… I am different from others. If it really is that kind of situation, then I will know it.”
“If you’re not a player then…”
“Look inside the game. I believe that there will be other people who cannot remember anything just like me. However, I believe that a player like you should be one and only.” Yin continued to say, “Therefore, let us continue to complete your main quest. I can almost be certain that finding other people and acquiring more information is a part of the main quest.”
“The main quest? Alright then.”