the artistry and psychology of gaming


The Crunch (X-Men)

The Crunch (X-Men)

I’ve spent a fair amount of time with a group of extraordinary individuals.  They approached me and invited me to their mansion for a guided tour.  At some point, they asked me if I’d like to stay with them, because they said I was “special”.  While I couldn’t bring myself to accept, I never turn down the opportunity to explore, whether it be a strange new land, or just someone’s house.  They took me into a room somewhere underground that was capable of creating very realistic virtual scenarios.  They let me try one out, leaving me to my own devices in this dangerous room.

The Crunch – which was where this program virtually brought me – is a terrifying place; from what I understand, it’s at the end of time when all matter collapses.  Of course, such an idea is absurd – time is infinite – but this is, after all, a virtual simulation, so anything can happen.  A bleak landscape extended in all directions and strange creatures, very few of which even resembled beings with which I am familiar, littered the area.  There were dark, metallic-looking hounds of some sort, strange robots of indescribable form, and equally indescribably purple creatures capable of both flying and causing spontaneous combustion.  And yet, it was very pretty in an oddly horrific sense.

Broken buildings were all around, constructed of a concrete-like material that was stained an indeterminable color.  There were odd constructions made of blocks of this, which took on a strange shape that looked less like edifices and more like something a child would make from building blocks.  Some jutted diagonally out into the air, though most were just stacked in the aforementioned manner.  Dark blue smoke billowed into the dark red skies and rocks inexplicably floated through the air.  There appeared to be a body of water in the background and broken electronics were built into the walls everywhere I went.

As I wandered the desolate landscape – taking care not to fall into any of the many abysses – I passed some odd machinery.  The first of these looked almost like a gigantic bicycle chain, but with some sort of monitors in between each of the links.  I am uncertain as to their purpose or that of the holes in the metal.  I soon came to a pit with floating platforms, a structure with which all adventurers are very familiar, but this particular hazard had a greater sense of gravity to it.  If the bleak landscape and filthy machinery behind me weren’t enough, below me was a sea of heat; pillars of flame thicker than my body periodically erupted from beneath me as I attempted to cross.  Perilous though it was, I managed to get through only singing my clothes and hair; perhaps I should’ve worn it up that day.

I soon reached a number of monitors built into the machinery.  They were out, but when I neared them, a disturbing yellow face with a giant grin upon it popped up on them just before they exploded, leaving a broken screen with its components red-hot and fried behind where the glass had been.  I soon came to understand that this would happen with most of the television-sized monitors, though I never did figure out why they reacted to my presence.  I eventually reached a long row of monitors, though these did not explode.  They had a familiar three-two-one countdown pattern, which terminated in a side view of that creepy face, though instead of grinning menacingly, it merely laughed before turning to colored static.  I had little time to watch them, though, as jets of fire shot up from the floor.

Crossing much more of the same, I eventually reached a shrine, which seemed very out of place.  It was devoted to some sort of pear-shaped creature, which had no legs, but did have two arms outstretched with long claws in their fingers.  Looking into the statue’s face, I understood: this was the face that kept appearing on the monitors, though I still knew nothing about this creature.  After passing through, I saw ruins in progressively worse shape, some glowing red as though they were about to melt down.  I peered into a room full of cogs, but quickly realized that entering this chamber would cause a wall to come crashing down and trap me inside.  I passed in front of a large wall of monitors, which flashed their creepy yellow grins and exploded, as did the rest, eventually taking me to an open-air dead end with an eerie floating image in its midst.  It was like some sort of computer, but it looked like it was slightly out of phase. I had little time to think about it, though, as everything around me began to turn red.  I heard a voice shout my name just before seeing a bright flash, after which I fainted.  When I regained consciousness, I was informed that the program had to be terminated and that I had to be extracted from it.

It was a bit strange watching a scenario that ended the entire world.  It wasn’t the usual situation in which only human life is wiped out, either; the entirety of existence ended in the blink of an eye.  Stranger still is the simultaneous sense of horror and relief that it provided.  Everything around me was bleak, ruined, and in some cases, on fire; it was a truly miserable place.  The negativity of my disposition helped to give rise to fear and sadness at knowing what would come – I was still young and quite emotional at the time – but at the same time, the destruction of everything seemed almost merciful, delivering the world from its terrible fate.  Perhaps if life in the world is ever snuffed out, it will be a mercy killing, and the knowledge of that possibility fills me with an odd sense of peace on the matter.

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