[Short Story] His room was dark. His heart felt darker. A game reviewer questions his life decisions. (Author Notes are below the story.)
Boring Men Only Write Boring R_
A game reviewer's room isn't always what you'd expect. Especially for Jamil who worked at this job for many years.
The only light in the room was the screen. The only sound was the pressing of buttons. The sound of characters punching each other might only be heard on his headphones. Jamil was too absorbed in the game, to realize it was night outside.
He sat like that for hours. Occasionally, he fixes his posture when it became too uncomfortable. Only speaking "game terms" unconsciously as he leveled up.
Jamil smiled as he heard the delightful jingle that signified the last of his goals for the day achieved. Only then, he started to feel his hands on the controller. Only then, he heard the growls of his stomach. "I'm hungry." Jamil opened his mouth only to realize his voice became hoarse from thirst.
Jamil closed the console and went for something to eat. He was sure, however, he wouldn't find anything in the fridge. He decided to ask for food delivery but with a glance at his phone, he realized it was too late in the night to order food.
"I'll trick my stomach with water." Jamil smiled as he thought. "Lucky that drinking Water's free."
As he filled a big glass of water, Jamil went over a mental list of meals to order the next day.
He wanted something cheap. His limited budget is getting slimmer, and he won't be getting paid for at least two weeks. Probably longer, if he couldn't write something out about the game he just finished playing.
"What to write? It was too generic." Jamil returned to his room. He took a moment to glance at his closed Laptop, illuminated by his phone's LED in the room's darkness. It was blinking. Probably another comment notification.
He had a way with words, but whatever he wrote nowadays seems to get people angry. His honest opinions used to bring in money. His controversial takes used to bring more clicks. Yet, now, his words and audience never meet eye-to-eye.
He wasn't alone. Some infamous news outlet called it "The Dark Ages of Journalism," and he hated how much he agreed with it.
People were disillusioned.
Gamers have read too many articles and are hurt by too many lies as reviewers stopped being peers and became journalists.
"Peers are fun. Journalists want your time, clicks, and money." Jamil recited his favorite line of the article he hated. "I'm not a journalist... I never wanted to become one."
Titles that used to bring people in started to turn them away, gamers stopped reading reviews and the promised new audience was never there.
Jamil took off the electricity from his mobile and console. He took the phone and sat on his bed. He felt tired, but couldn't sleep on an empty stomach. He scrolled down his timeline
Jamil's face frowned darker and darker the more he scrolled. The only notifications he got since he last checked were a mockery of him, his reviews, and the games he has chosen.
Jamil threw his phone on the bed after one such mockery: "Why haven't you reviewed X yet? Oh, you did? It was so boring I forgot I read it."
"...Boring?!" Jamil's screamed internally. He wished it wasn't past midnight so he could be loud.
Jamil went to pick up his phone only to realize how his tired self subconsciously started preparing his bed instead. Jamil sighed. "What do you want me to write?!"
Reviewers who knew what they were doing flourished on their subjectiveness. Their audience came for them for their personality, not their content. Even ones who kept their offensive comments and ignored anyone who mocked them.
Jamil didn't have that. He liked to boast he was a funny guy. The compliments he got when he started years ago convinced him he was. Now, the numbers show otherwise. He wished he was like the others, and even envied the offensive ones.
His old followers left when they noticed his 'lack of creativity,' and no matter what he did, he couldn't get them back or get a replacement. "You can't win by being the nice guy." Then again, Jamil concluded that being boring is better than being offensive.
Maybe his writing was really bad. Maybe he couldn't get with the times and choose the wrong games. The fine line between accuracy and fun got finer, and Jamil couldn't adapt. His stress multiplied
"I don't even know good games from bad anymore..." Jamil closed his eyes after finishing preparing his bed. He forgot the last time he played a video game and truly enjoyed it. He became too critical, too focused on determining what was enjoyable that he wouldn't feel it anymore.
Video Games used to be his comfort away from stress, but they became his main source of it.
Jamil has long lost his passion for the job, and he feels his hope will soon follow. Maybe his life will also...
"I can't think! ...I shouldn't!!" Jamil stood from his bed. Frowning, he fired the console once more and opened the notes app on his phone. The determination on his face is only blemished by the darkness under his eyes.
He opened the same game he closed just a few minutes ago. Without smiling, he picked up the controller. Checked the tasks he have to finish next. "There are only a few hours until the cheapest Pizza opens!"
Maybe, the next day Jamil would spend time away from video games.
The prompt for this story is "Illusion" which isn't very apparent in the story itself. The idea I based this story on was "disillusionment." I think we've all been there at one point in our lives. The reality hits you, and you start to question what you've been doing in your life.
I based the protagonist Jamil on some ideas I had about my future. Not the happy ideas, but the cynical ones... I actually, don't want to be a video game reviewer, but I do review video games sometimes, so I have experience in this.
This is less of a story and more of a scene, but I hope it made you think about something. What did it make you think about?
#FunFact: The main character's name "Jamil (جميل)" means "beautiful" in Arabic. The name is in masculine form. You can imagine the story "Boring Women Only Write Boring R_" with a female protagonist "Jamilah (جميلة)" if you will.
|"Boring Men Only Write Boring R_" by @ahmadmanga is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0|