It had taken 10 minutes for Fin to race through the streets of London to the venue of the launch. A crowd of teenagers around his age were already milling around the entrance, chattering excitedly amongst themselves. Fin allowed himself to relax for the first time since he'd woken up; he'd made it on time. A moment later the huge doors to the industrial-sized building began to open, and Fin followed the crowd as it surged forward towards to entrance.
"No way! Angel Of Darkness was a total sellout. Square Enix screwed Lara over big time." Fin was walking alongside an irritated looking boy, an inch or two shorter than him. He appeared to be in a heated debate with the just as infuriated looking girl the other side of him.
"Yes, it was a bit odd and there were big plotholes, but you can't deny it was edgy and new! Besides, it was only a bad ending because they planned to make it part of a trilogy." She replied, her grey eyes ablaze.
"Whatever, let's ask a neutral party. Hey, what's your opinion on Angel Of Darkness? Edgy or just plain dumb?" It took Fin a moment to process that the slightly shorter boy was talking to him. They were both looking at him expectantly as they approached a seated area in a huge hall that the crowd had been led in to.
"If I'm honest, I never played that one." Fin finally said, deciding that remaining neutral was probably the best idea at this point. Getting into a gaming debate within the first five minutes of the launch hadn't been his plan.
"Fair enough." The girl said, shrugging her shoulders and walking away. The boy sighed.
"Typical fangirl who can't see any faults in her favourite game series. My name's Matt by the way." Matt said, extending his hand, "What's your name?"
"Fin". Fin took Matt's hand and shook it, deciding that this was a much better way to start out than arguing about a game. The two boys sat down in a row of chairs towards to front and stared up at the screen in front of them. It was big, just like everything in the venue, and the words "Welcome, friends!" flashed intermitantly. Just in front of it was a stage, with a single microphone planted at the front centre. Four chairs lined the back, just below where the screen started. It didn't look particularly impressive, but Fin knew from months of eager waiting that this was no ordinary set up. Here, along with 59 other kids, he was going to experience the latest breakthrough in gaming technology. Excitement rippled through the crowd like a wave through the sea. At that moment, the lights went out, leaving only the screen to illuminate 60 expectant faces. The buzz immediately died down as a voice boomed through what Fin guessed to be well hidden speakers.
"Friends! Avid gamers and virtual explorers! I take great pleasure in welcoming you to the launch of the greatest breakthrough in gaming history! Soon, all previous ideas about the limits of technology shall be forgotten. Ask yourselves, what is the single largest problem with video games today?"
A voice from behind Fin spoke quietly, "The fact that there are modern medipacks in unexplored, ancient locations?" Fin let out a quiet laugh and turned to see a boy, his eyebrow raised, staring up at the screen. He noticed Fin and flashed him a grin, and the voice kept talking,
"The problem is that we cannot enter these worlds ourselves! We become so absorbed in graphics and pixels and yearn to be able to experience these amazing places for ourselves. Yearn no more!" The voice rumbled, and the screen suddenly burst into life. It flashed bright colours like a psychedelic like display, making Fin suddenly grateful he wasn't epileptic. Just as he thought he was in danger of a migraine, the lights died down and three men and a woman filed on stage. The woman headed towards the microphone first as the three men sat down. She was tall and slender, and her dark skin shone in the light of the screen. Her black braided hair was pulled neatly into a bun, and her simple red dress floated around her legs like a leaf on the breeze. She smiled at them from the stage and began to talk, her voice a mesmerising melody compared with the deep, thunderous one they had just heard.
"Hello! I am sure you are all fed up of listening to people talk now, but we will keep you a moment more. My name is Amara and I am the creator of the game ZX6. You are all here today because you won a competition. The contest tested different personality types, and you will all disover your own prominent trait through playing this game. There is only one of each of you, and there are 60 of you in total. You are 60 individuals, each with a unique characteristic which makes you invaluable to the group. You may be a leader, or a healer, or wise, or comforting, or a strategist, or perhaps a fighter. Either way, each of you has your own skill that we want to help you uncover, whilst also being the first to experience gaming on an entirely new level. I shall now pass you over to my close friend, Mr Phillip Johnson, for further explanation." With a final warm hearted smile and a round of applause from the crowd, Amara returned to her seat. The man who took her place at the stand was dressed in a dark suit. He looked neither young nor old, and lacked the grace and musical voice of Amara.
"This game," he began, his voice gravelly, "is unlike anything you've ever played before. You will be immersed, quite literally, into the world it is set in, where you can then experience role playing from within the screen rather than behind it. We have - or rather, Amara has - invented a way to place human in a virtual environment. The science of this will be explained later when you are about the play, but first, we have split you into groups of three, based on your character type. Listen carefully and go where you are directed!" Fin sank back into his seat, waiting until his name was called. His mind was whirring with questions. How on earth could they possibly achieve planting humans in a virtual world? Surely is was impossible? Fin never paid attention much in physics, but he was sure he'd have remembered a theory as incredible as that. The people around him looked just as skeptical, with eyebrows raised and incredulous expressions.
"Matt Waters, Walter Jones and Sophia Mason!" A man called out from a list in his hand. It was obvious he was having a hard time reading off the names, as he squinted in frustration, his brows furrowed, and the paper held aloft at a peculiar distance from his face.
"That's me. See you around, Fin.". Matt said, getting up and walking towards the front. The seats around Fin were emptying fast. Surely it wouldn't be long until his name was called.
"Ezekial Darius, Lisa Browning and Fin Woodly!" The man called out. As Fin stood, so did the boy behind him who'd joked about the medipacks. His grinned at Fin, his white teeth a stark contrast to his dark skin, darker than Amara's.
"You must be Fin. You don't look like much of a Lisa to me." Ezekial joked, shaking Fin's hand.
"And I'm guessing you're Ezekial?" The boy nodded and said,
"Please, call me Zeke." Fin nodded and the two headed down the middle aisle to find Lisa. The grey-eyed girl from earlier was approaching them both, smiling slightly when she saw Fin.
"Hey there Mr Switzerland," she greeted Fin, "I'm Lisa." Once the three of them had introduced themselves, they were directed through a door that led to a slightly smaller hall. There, they found tables laden with food, hot and cold, average and more outlandish. The smell was wonderful and Fin's stomach rumbled happily.
"I guess they want us to bond over food before taking us to try out the game." Lisa deducted. Fin was okay with waiting a little while extra to try it out if it meant a few bagels. He was desperate to find out more about ZX6, but his first priorities lay, as usual with his stomach.