It is ancient history so to say now, as to when the first video game appeared on the world market and the electronics craze really began. The 1980s is now decades ago when companies like Atari, and Commodore Computers came about. All hooked to a TV antenna on the back of your television and or with a monitor of its own and keyboard and silly joysticks. It now seems so long ago after all the inventions and progress since, doesn’t it. Pong, Table Tennis and then graphics came about as children and adults got fascinated by Intellivision and then PlayStations and X-Boxes and personal computers. Lap Top computers became the craze and now Tablets and E-readers abound, everywhere a person goes is someone reading, or playing or working on an electronic device. Amazing isn’t it folks we have become total and unashamed electronic geeks who love having video games to play and watch.
As a kid born in the fifties and raised in the sixties and seventies, we never had game consoles, computers, e-readers or video games. We had erector sets, microscopes, dolls, rings, jacks, jump ropes and balls. We had puzzles and paperback books and hard covers, and a little TV if we were good. Today’s children live and die with electronics and it is sad when you removed it from the kids they get lost and don’t know what to do anymore.
Such is the preamble to what happened to a child born in 1982, little Gerald McLaney. A young boy who by the age of five years old was given a controller to an Atari Console and got lost in simple games like pong and table tennis and grew from there. His parents didn’t think anything of it, it calmed Gerald down when he was upset, it made him quiet and happy and they could hear him in the next room each day, laughing and making fun sounds as he played for hours.
His days were spent staring at a Television screen full of pixels and shapes and laughing and yelling and sometimes crying when he failed to beat the games. Never though would Gerald ever give up no matter how many times he was beaten by a game he always went back to play again, to prove it was beatable to him. Usually Gerald would figure it out even at five years old, a small boy who’s brain sped as fast as light pixels across the screen. He mastered games like pong in no time, tennis in no time, Mario Brothers by 7, and was on to games of Champion Tetris and puzzles and more.
His days were spent going to school, coming home rushing through homework, finishing it and on went the Television and the game console and Gerald would be lost once more to the world, in an electronic wasteland staring at a screen of colored pixels now that moved at the same rate as his brain cells fascinated by the games invented to play with. Gerald never worried about making friends or going out to play and his parents saw no problem letting him do as he wanted and what made him happy. After all Gerald was happy as he was and no one cared if it was the video games and Television screen keeping him company, all they knew is Gerald was a happy kid and never caused trouble.
His life went on and on as the video games grew; he went from Atari, to Intellivision, from Intellivision he graduated to X-Box and Play Stations. The games went from simple games like pong and table tennis to games of more violent natures now, war games, battles, battleships and planes and then the shooters. Yes the all-time favorites for Gerald, his shooters games of war now allowed to be played across the internet now, as servers sprang up and blood and gore and sounds of explosions and fights and yells of death filled the room Gerald played in. Gerald staring at the screen to see a dot move and shoot and duck as a player’s pixeled characters head exploded 300 feet away in the game and the scores rang up and awards He joyed in being able to kill as many opponents as possible and being the best on the score boards around the world now. Yet behind the screen as others were being beaten and seeing Gerald’s pixel character in the game come up victorious and win, no one knew the real Gerald who was now home alone always with no one to watch him. He was snacking on so many things over time that between the age of 7 to 17, Gerald had somehow grown to 300 pounds and could barely move. Yet he refused to put down his controller and stop his game playing for it was all he knew. He ate whatever he wished, no his parents didn’t pay attention, nor stop him as long as Gerald didn’t bother anyone and was happy.
The video game sounds could be heard in the halls with Gerald’s door shut as he played on and on seldom stopping except for bathroom breaks and to get snacks. He would rush as fast as he could across the hall to the bathroom to go and then wait when no one was looking and get food and drinks and run back in and play more. He lived for the video games each day, looking online for new ones to play, buying and downloading what he could on a credit card. Each game was more complicated to win, each shooter more violent and gore filled as Zombies died, and Soldiers and Hit Men and Mobsters all at Gerald’s hands. As Gerald sat back in his chair in his room his eyes filled with the colors and pixels of the screen his thumbs and fingers gliding effortlessly across the controllers, smiling and never caring about anything else.
The pressure from the weight and his lack of physical exertion began to get to Gerald each day, slowing his heartbeat down and causing bladder and bowel problems, but Gerald didn’t care much, he wanted to just sit in the dark stare at the screen his fingers and thumbs sliding over the smooth buttons on the controllers and watch pixeled characters on a screen bleed and die left and right as he worked through each map and screen. It was after all Gerald’s whole life now, he knew he couldn’t run and play with the other kids now. Gerald could barely make it to the bathroom 100 feet away and the refrigerator 200 feet away downstairs once a day. He would sneak down when no one was looking with a tray and climb slowly back up the stairs, with the try loaded with drinks and snacks and junk food.
Once a week Gerald would get up and empty the trash when no one was home from his bedroom. Bags of trash he stored like a rabbit storing food, until no one was around and then disposed of them. No one knew Gerald existed except for the fact they kept feeding him food and drink and hearing the sounds of the games in the hallway and down the stairs throughout the house. This went on for a good 5 years and at times only visitors would wonder how Gerald was to his parents, but when they asked to see him, Gerald would tell his parents, he was too busy doing things and the game sounds would get louder. Slowly but surely over the next two years the gaming sounds from Gerald’s room would fade a little at a time. Becoming less and less to be heard from Gerald’s room daily. His own family tended to believe Gerald was fine, because the sounds did keep coming and going on and off and he never ever complained of anything.
Finally, after five long years, Gerald’s family began to wonder how come they didn’t see or hear from Gerald much anymore, what was he doing now a days. Was he really ok in that bedroom of his and why didn’t he come out or answer anymore?
One day, they decided it was time to see Gerald again and make sure he was alive and ok. As they pounded on his door there was only video games sounds inside and no verbal response from him. They knocked harder and harder but no response still. So they tried to open the door to Gerald’s room, and failed not once but three times. Now worried frantically, they dialed 911 for help.
10 minutes later the fire department and police arrived to find out what this was all about, Amazed they listened to how someone wa sin this room and had been for so long no one knew what was happening, with him. They knocked first looking for response like everyone else did, but nothing. They asked for a key to the door but no one had one to let them in. The Police decided to try to break the door down by their shoulders yet it did not budge.
The Fire Department brought in a saw and they cut thru the door to Gerald’s room. They found Gerald who was now 400 pounds and leaning against the door as the door gave the rest of the way under his weight. Gerald died 400 pounds, happy with a tray of snacks, sodas and his video game controller in his hand! Sadly Gerald never bothered with anyone but the gamers online and ate like he did to do so, but he never interacted with real people in the outside world either.
Three days later they buried Gerald McLaney in a piano box, to hold his 400 pound body and before they tossed the dirt over his casket, they threw in his X-Box 360 and a controller!