Jillian Gomez-Chen clicked her goggles tight. The earpieces made the smothered crackle of compressing acoustic foam in her ears and the buzz of the riding mower in the back yard beyond her bedroom window faded, faded, disappeared.
Gameworld flicked to life in her eyes and ears. Lovely sensories, brighter and livelier than life; no mowers, no fading fall leaves or scuffed wooden floors. Supergreen grass, deep sun you could gaze into painlessly; the river she materialized beside tinkling on the edge of music. All beautiful, but for one multiplicitous thing.
She brought up SETTINGS, clicked DIALOGUE and moved the slider to PG – CENSORED.
Jillian hated to censor anything, but…
“You look like a stupid n_____ b____ in that avatar,” another player shouted from a hilltop on the other side of the river. The PG filter did its job; Jillian sighed. Of course, she understood what went in the audio blanks.
Jillian’s avatar was tall as she was not, a Night Elf, indigo like a moonless night sky. She brushed a hand through her white virtual hair, raking back the tapering tips of her elf-ears the way she liked, fierce.
Bringing her hand throwing forward, she turned to face the faraway player troll. Blinked MENU to MAGIC and ARMOR EATING LAVA BURST.
“Shut up, noob,” she muttered, and incinerated him.
Too many people brought their own archaic, human virtual reality along, their bigot eyes older than computers or even electricity, filtering their reality into dark and angry and hateful visions, along into Gameworld with them.
She took flight, cloak streaming behind her, a comet tail of deep and simmering reds. Beyond rivers and woods and foothills she found familiar mountains, the dungeon crawl she’d had her eye on all week.
On the way she passed over a party trekking on foot. She landed at the dungeon entrance ahead of them.
“You can’t do that one alone, dumb c___,” one of them called from the valley below.
“You that hot in real life?” Another shouted. “Send me a nude. You can suck my d___, baby.”
Jillian sighed again and entered the dungeon. The great iron door slammed shut, cutting off the party of trolls. The monsters inside would try to kill her, of course, but virtual monsters were monsters and that’s what they were supposed to do. They wouldn’t call out obscenities for the censor to block. They were all game, no hate. Not like the real monsters.
Jillian smiled, shut in alone with the virtual, reality locked out behind her.