1ST BLACKOUT: A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
What a weird day, and not in a good way. Seriously freaky X-Files type weird. I dunno what the hell happened.
I'll start at the beginning. Finally got to sleep last night a little before 4:00. Hit the snooze button 4x, grab a poptart and I'm hauling ass to get to the place, cuz they said if you're late at all, you dont get in. It took me a while to find the place cuz it's in this non-descript office park with like no signs anywhere. Run to the door with 2 mins to spare and D'OH! Just realized I LEFT THE DAMN INVITATION SITTING ON MY DRESSER! At first the guy wasn't gonna let me in, but I was like, of course i've been invited, why else would I be here on a saturday morinng! I practically begged and pleaded and the guy finally let me in.
There's a couple dozen other gamers, all guys except for this one short, ugly chick with a mullet sitting in this like waiting room type place - thank god there's coffee there. I fix a cup and sit down. A few people are talking to each other (a couple dudes are speaking like German or something), mostly bragging about their Vice City missions, and there's this one guy who's really loud and obnoxious about it. I wanna tell him to shut up, but I haven't had my coffee yet, and I don't wanna be the one asshole who gets kicked out, so I just keep my mouth shut. Whatever.
This one dude is pullig up his pant leg showing mullet girl his tat's of Jason, Micheal Myers and Leatherface, and I'm kinda zoning out on them when then this older guy in a golf shirt with some corporate logo on it comes in. He says, "Are you guys ready to get your game on?" Get your game on? Vice City Guy pumps his fist in the air and says, "YESSSS!" and we all kinda laugh. Then the old guy says, "I can't hear you, I said are you guys ready to get your game on!!!" We all yell "Yeah!" like we're at some pep rally or something. "That's terrific, folks, but first..." then he passes out clipboards with forms for all of us to fill out.
He explains that all the legalese fine print means that we can't tell anybody what game we played, what company makes the game, or any of the "proprietary details" - basically, in a few minutes when we find out what makes this game so different and cool, that's exactly what we can't talk about. I'm kinda bummed about this part, cuz I was looking forward to rubbing Rob's nose in it even more. Also we agree to be videotapd and have our likeness used by the company (?).Also if any of us are pregnant (actually this one real fat dude with a bushy beard and a ponytail looks like he could be pregnant) or have heart conditions, seizures, etc. we can't play the game. I signed the form.
Then he tells us that today we'll be known by our code names, just like James Bond, heh heh heh. He goes around the room lookig at his clipboard, pointing to each of us and giving us our "code name" then he says "Do you think you can remember those" like were retards or something. Mine is "Beta-7" and I think, cool, cuz 7 is supposed to be a lucky number...or so i thought.
Then the old guy says, "Okay, Beta-1 and Beta-2, right this way please" and they get up and follow him. Then Beta-3 and -4, etc. I think, cool at least i'm not getting paired up with the loud annyoing guy.
So then it's me and beta-8's turn. The guy won't let me bring my coffee in with me, like am I going to spill it on their precious game or something? We get lead down this hallway of doors and there's a guy like standing guard outside every door. It kinda weirds me out, like i'm already in trouble or something. They must think were gonna try to steal the game or something, and i'm thinking yeah thanks, real welcoming vibe here.
So we get to our door, old guy pulls out a key and unlocks it and we go in. I hear the door lock behind us. Ooookay. The room is just this big, empty space with a concrete floor and unfinished drywall. There's just a tv stand with a xbox and a couple of crappy chairs in front of it and a camcorder and tripod off to the side. I'm thinking, these people make millons of $$$ and they can't even give us decent chairs?
Theres a younger guy and this kinda cute redhead girl standing beside the tv. Suddenly I get kinda nervous, like I'm having flashbacks to the SAT's or something, so I blurt out, "Sorry, I think I forgot my number 2 pencil." The girl forces a chuckle and says, that's great, use that enthusiasm, but there's a lot of work to be done before E3, and we'd really like to keep the chatter to a minimum until the test is over.
The girl says we'll be testing NFL 2k4 which isn't coming out till this summer, and me and beta8 look at each other like, hell yeah! The girl says i'll be playing first, but that Beta8 should be sure to pay attention to what I'm doing and try to not take his eyes off the screen. He looks disappointed. This is weird, i'm thinking if they're testing the 1 player mode, why is this other dude even here? The girl says I'll be playing in "crash-cam" mode which is 1st person and i'm like, no way! She says just pretend the're not even there - easy for her to say, but whatever.
So I start playing. At first it's hard to concentrate cuz they're both standing right next to the tv, taking notes or something on a clipboard. The chair sucks and it takes me a few minutes to adjust to these weird conditions, but after a while i really get into it. The crash cam stuff is just SICK, looking out of the helmet and you see the arms and legs during passes and kicks. Its awesome. There's a few little gliches here a nd there and I feel a little dizzy during some of the tackles but I guess thats kind of the idea. I'm thinking, screw that stuff I signed, there's no way I CAN'T tell Rob about this game. Thats the last thing I remember thinking.
Next thing I know I wake up this little room with nothing but a metal desk and a couple folding chairs. The old guy from the waiting room is shaking me, saying, "Sir, sir, are you okay, sir?" I'm feeling very groggy, kind of out of it, sort of like after I had my wisdom teeth taken out. I open my mouth to speak, but I have trouble forming the words for a couple seconds. My eyes focus a little better, and I see this big, burly rent-a-cop guy standing next to him. My head hurts and my heart starts to pound, cuz I don't know what the hell is going on. Instinctively I try to bolt up, but the security guy sits me back down, kind of forcefully.
Old guy says, "It's alright son, your gonna be alright, just take a few deep breaths." I ask him what happened and he says, "Well, son, we'd like to ask you that very same question. Now, I'm only going to ask you this once, and for your sake, we need the truth."
"Did you falsify any information on the form we gave you in the lobby?"
"No, sir," I said, surprised at myself for saying "sir," but by then I guess my mind was in just-pulled-over-by-FHP mode or something.
"So neither you, nor anyone in your family has any history of epalepsy or other such illness?"
"No. What's going on? What is this all about?" I ask, getting more freaked by the second.
"Let us ask the questions here son. Now, are you currently on any prescription medications? Did you consume any alcohol or drugs in the last 48 hours?"
"Now, be honest. We really need to know. If you tell us the truth, we won't notify your parents or the police, but if you choose to make this difficult..."
I tell him I am being honest, sure I've tried the sticky-icky a few times, but I'm not a druggie, and I wasn't drinking or doing drugs before I came in. Every time I try to ask what's going on, he keeps looking at the security guy and shifting the questions back on me.
He asks me if anything out of the ordinary has happened to me in the last couple of days. I tell him no, my life has been pretty damn boring lately, and sadly enough, this beta test was pretty much the highlight of my month. I was actually so stoked about it that I had trouble sleeping last night.
When I say that, his eyes kinda light up for a split second, and he looks at the security guy. He asks what time I went to bed last night, and I tell him about 4:00. They both look kind of relieved, and then the old guy tells me I've got nothing to worry about, it's just a bad case of "your garden variety sleep deprivation," I just need to go home and get some rest. I tell him bullshit, dude, I've stayed up for literally days at a time playing, and nothing like this has ever happened to me before.
"Well, um..." he pauses for a couple of seconds and looks at his watch. "Sometimes this sort of thing can have a cumalative effect on the human body, and you really should take better care of yourself." He asks what I had for breakfast this morning, I tell him poptarts, and I could see his eyebrows kind of raise again. "Well there you go, son all that sugar flooding your system first thing in the morning, your body releases a big spike of insulin, then you get the crash, coupled with not enough rest to begin with, and there you have it. You really ought to get home and go to bed."
I'm like, whatever dude, I'm fine, I just wanna go back in and finish my game. He tells me no, that's okay, we really think you should get some rest, and besides, they've already gotten all the input they need from me, but they sincerely appreciate my services and will definitely keep me in mind for future beta tests. "Tony here will show you out."
Before I can argue any more, Tony's got me by the arm and is leading me quickly down a narrow, fluoresent-lit hallway. I'm still feeling a little woozy, and it's almost like he's kinda holding me up. He takes me out a side door and walks me out into the parking lot, and mine is the only car there. "Thank you sir, I hope you feel better soon."
He stands right next to me, until I get in my car. I sit for a minute, crank on the AC and turn on some music. I take a couple deep breaths, and look up and THE GUY IS STILL STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO MY DOOR. This freaks me out even more, and by then I just wanna get the hell out of there, so I peel out and he stands there and watches me drive all the way out of the complex before he turns and RUNS back inside (which strikes me as kind of weird, since he's a BIG dude who doesn't look like he does much running) talking on a walkie-talkie the whole time. Whew.
What. The. Hell....
I stop in at work to fix myself a latte on the way home, and John and Toby can tell that something wierd has happened to me, but I'm still to freaked to really tell them anything, plus I'm afraid of all that legal BS they made me sign, so I just tell them I'm having kind of a bad day.
I go home and try to clear my mind with some NBA 2k3, but I'm not really into it. Then I decide I'd better write all this stuff down while it's still pretty clear in my mind. I have a pretty bad headache right now, it's been getting worse all day, I don't know if it's the stress or what. I wonder if I should go to a doctor or something, but i'm not covered under Mom's insurance any more and I'm pretty tapped till my next paycheck. I'm gonna just take some tylenol PM and hit the sack.