During 2008, Cynthia’s life was as hectic as it has been recently, so she desperately needed a form of escape from her real-life torment. Right before Thanksgiving of that year, Michelle, a fellow co-worker had told Cynthia about ‘family game-night’ using their PS 3 gaming console… Michelle related to Cynthia that on weekends her family would gather around their 42″ plasma and proceeded to play ‘karaoke’ games; “totally more fun than regular karaoke, Cynthia, you should get one for you, Gus and Sonya!”. At that time, the thought of Gus ‘bonding’ with her and Sonya seemed so unreal to Cynthia. “No, I am not really into video games Michelle… I think I kind of outgrew them many years ago!” Cynthia said amusingly.
“Oh right, I understand…” Michelle said outloud noticing her voice trailing at the end at the thought that Cynthia’s household was not your typical happy family. “Well hun, maybe you are not into video games themselves, but this console has a cool feature called PlayStation Home….” “No Michelle, I really don’t have any time for games, I can just imagine what Gus would say if he ever sees me bringing one of those games home, he would kill me”. “But hun… this ‘PlayStation Home’ is not really a game in itself, it’s more of a virtual world that you can play in, you create an avatar, make it look anyway you like and just hang out with your friends in many different areas…” Cynthia proceeded to stop Michelle from finishing her sentence “Michelle, I have done that before on my computer many years ago, it was called… ‘another life’ I think right? anyways… I didn’t like it at all since it kept crashing my computer all the time, …so aggravating” Cynthia’s voice showed the disdain at the end of her sentence.
“No, Cynthia… that was called ‘Second Life’, and this is so much better than that”, Michelle finished by saying, “Look, Cyn… let’s go to my place real quick after work and I will show it to you, you will LOVE it!”.
Sure enough after work, Michelle took Cynthia to her home and told her, “have a seat hun!” Cynthia sat on Michelle’s couch and saw her turning on what looked like a surround sound system, the plasma screen and grabbing the gaming controller, a shiny black console gave a short ‘beep’ and suddenly heard a orchestra fanfare sound crescendoing out of the surround sound system. Michelle logged into the virtual world and Cynthia was surprisingly curious at what this ‘virtual world’ had to offer and became amazed at how a cute little female avatar that looked surprisingly like Michelle was walking around what looked like a simple apartment/studio.
“Oh wow…. that is soooo cool, Michelle!” “I know right?! now check this out…” Michelle pressed a couple of buttons and saw her avatar teleport to what looked like an outdoor plaza complete with a bowling alley, movie theater, mall and a dancing area. “This is called Central Plaza, it is a great place to just hang out and chill with others; so Cynthia… what do you think of Home? do you want to try it out?” “sure…” Cynthia said apprehensively. Michelle handed the controller to Cynthia. Cynthia took the controller and started to get herself familiar with controlling the avatar. A short chuckle came out of her when the avatar started to do an amusing dance, “what is your avatar doing? is she dancing??” “Yes Cynthia, you are making her do the ‘running man’!” “The Running Man? …now I have seen everything” Cynthia mutters to herself releasing a suppressed chuckle. Cynthia was more surprised at hearing herself chuckle than anything else, knowing that these times of happiness are truly rare indeed.
For almost two hours, Cynthia wore a smile from ear to ear as she played with Michelle’s avatar in this new world she was quickly becoming enamored with; She quietly made a quick mental addition to her ‘wish list’… “buy PlayStation Home”.
The magical day happened on Black Friday, 2008; On her way to work, she saw her favorite store Best Buy off the freeway and impulsively took the nearest exit off the freeway to purchase her PlayStation 3. This momentous occasion and anticipation quickly succumbed at the thought of what Gus would say when he finds out she bought herself such a luxury. All day at work Cynthia kept wondering what awaited her when she would step in to her home. Cynthia remembered that Michelle had told her that she could tell Gus it was simply a gift from her to Cynthia. That… definitely took some stress off her shoulders.
When Cynthia arrived home that evening, she was pleasantly surprised to see that Gus was not home yet. Cynthia did her best to quickly set up her gaming console only to find herself staring at the diminutive 19″ screen. “oh well…” she quietly shrugged to herself.
As Cynthia methodically did her best to connect all the cables into the right places in order to get her console up and running, she ruminated and tried her best to justify how this shiny black gaming console could hold the key to some much needed form of escape from the miserable life she had lived for several years, I think I have found something to help take the pain away…
The sound of Gus’ keys opening the door to their apartment startled Cynthia. Gus walked in noticeably drunk, looked over at Cynthia sitting in the couch in front of the tv and simply grunted and ignored her as he made his way to their bed. …”good riddance”.
Cynthia spent most of the entire night getting familiar with her gaming console but more importantly, PlayStation Home; and at that moment… she realized that her life had definitely changed forever.
In retrospect… Gus surprisingly didn’t make such a big deal when he found out about Cynthia’s new recreational activity due to the fact that she told him it was a gift from Michelle. “that was a stroke of brilliance indeed, my dear friend Michelle.”
Ever since that eventful moment in 2008, Cynthia has learned that her new passion PlayStation Home has become a safe haven were she can ‘escape’ the hard life that destiny has given her. “I know this isn’t very good for me either…, playing video games is not a normal existence for anybody, including myself.” “But only I know what I have to do; live my life the best way I know how”.
Ever since late 2008, Cynthia life has become more tolerable due to her only escape, PS Home. However… nothing can help Cynthia during those trying times when things go from bad to worse.
The beeping sound of the strange contraption right next to her hospital bed awoke Cynthia up from her slumber. “where am I?” Cynthia opened her eyes at the familiar sound of the detective that hopefully would provide some much needed answers. “You are still at the hospital, Ms. Ramsey; it seems you were taking a nap, a mighty deep nap if you ask me, you must’ve been in some deep R.E.M. level of sleep due to the way your eyes were darting from left to right under your eyelids. How are you feeling?”
Reality suddenly set in for Cynthia, “have you found my baby yet?!?! please tell me you found her!!”
“Ms. Ramsey… I’m very much afraid that I don’t have the answer you are looking for. We found your husband’s car in the parking lot of a local mall in Scottsdale…” “Is my baby Sonya alright? please tell me she is alright!!!” Cynthia interrupted Detective Lopez. “Ms. Ramsey… I am very afraid that I do not have good news for you”. “NO! PLEASE NO!!! WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BABY? PLEASE… TELL ME SHE IS ALRIGHT!!!”
“Ms. Ramsey… Scottsdale local police found your husband’s car in the Fashion Square Mall’s parking lot…” “Did you find my baby?!?! TELL ME YOU FOUND MY BABY!!!” “Ms. Ramsey, you must control yourself. We found your husband and your daughter however….” “WHAT???!! TELL ME….!!!” “Ms. Ramsey, they were both found dead inside the car with gunshots to the head….” “NO!!!!! NO!!! IT CAN’T BE, NO!!!!” all of a sudden Cynthia felt a sharp needle in her arm and a cool liquid flow through her veins and an overwhelming peace came over her dragging her into a deep, deep sleep.