BASED ON THE ARCADE FANDOM - A log entry by William Birkin. Birkin, now part of the council, has been tasked with researching the workings of the Arcade for 'scientific' purposes.
Arcade Research Log
The more and more my research goes on into the life and inner workings of the Arcade, the more and more I find myself troubled by what I find. I have been having countless sleepless nights and it's slowly taking its toll on my body. I just hope my in-game performance has not been affected in any way by my fatigue.
I was tasked by the Arcade council to delve into the codes of the characters living here to discover how everyone truly worked, all in the name of science. Or so they say. I have my suspicions that some of the council members may just want to control everyone and only seek this knowledge for that single purpose. I will keep quiet on this, however, until I can be sure.
So far I have found many fascinating things about us as coded characters. Yes, I know speaking about oneself as a 'coded character' probably sounds really disturbing, but I am at peace with my existence, though I do admit that some things trouble me. I suppose it is to be expected. The burden placed on me is great indeed. I am looking into the very souls of these people, after all.
On The Subject Of Life And Death
Life and death is the place that I started my research when tasked. Death is pretty simple and can be explained very easily when one understands the concepts behind how the Arcade works.
Each character is made up of code. Not organic matter like most character seem to think. This ignorance is perpetuated by older characters to keep everyone thinking they are just like the players who play our games in an attempt to spread the feeling of equality. But that is not the truth. Every character has a root code and a set of protocols rooted to it. The root code is them as a person, their coded background, skillset, limitations are all within this root code. Consider this the nervous system, DNA and so on. The protocols are their skills, limitations and, in more advanced games, their reactions to events.
Each character also has the ability to evolve outside of game play. This, however, was not an intentional thing by any means. The creators never intended this to happen. A ghost in the machine, I suppose you could call it. This is why we have lives outside of game play and why some of us adapt to have differing relationships to our fellow game characters. Take me, for example. I am coded with a back story that Annette is my wife and that I am supposed to love her. In the game, it is true, I play that role. Outside, though, I have evolved to form my own opinions and I have fallen out of love with her entirely. Some characters stay with their intended partners because they do have a strong bond, while others find partners outside of their own game. (Fix It Felix Jr and Sgt Calhoun, for example.)
This evolving code is why we have lives outside of the game, why we have a council and why we now have laws.
But, with this coding inside us all comes the myths of which I just mentioned above. Those in the Arcade who still believe they are all truly organic like the players. We are not. We can only do what our coding allows. For example, I could not use magic even if I visited a magic-based game because it's not in my coding. I could, however, be horribly disemboweled or maimed, as it is in my coding to have these organic parts. If Pac-Man were to be stabbed in the same way, though, he would not be disemboweled, as he is not programmed to have innards since he is not the same kind of character. He can be injured, of course, but nothing as detailed as that.
On the same subject as injury and so on comes the myth that medication works for all characters. Some characters think they can just run by my lab and pop a few pills and they'll be OK. This is all untrue. Characters can only heal in their own game using their own 'heal items'. This is not the players world where you can buy medication and get well again. Unless your game has pills or herbs (Like mine does) this is all rubbish. (That said though, I have been working on a form of medication, for lack of a better word, that I will go into later.)
The same goes for a character's skills, attire, and so on. A character can only wear what they are programmed to wear, unless they borrow or steal outfits from another game character. All outfits in the game will obviously serve a purpose and some games are programmed with bonus outfits. (See the fighting games for examples.) And with skills, a character can only use what they know already. They will have to learn other skills the old fashioned way should they wish to learn. For a character to enter a game that is different to theirs (For example a character from a war game based on the player's world to walk into a fantasy game where they use magic) and suddenly pick up a dozen new skills as soon as they enter is impossible without some kind of foul play with their root code. (I like to call this the 'M-S Myth'. Not sure why. I just think it's pretty catchy.)
All characters are linked to their game. They must go to their game to heal. If they die outside of their game their link is severed and they cease to exist. It is a scary notion for all of those homeless characters wandering around Game Central Station. They cannot heal should they get injured, they will not regenerate if they die. Which is why I am also working on something for that too. While I cannot stop permanent death, I can at least help should one be injured. Research is going OK with this so far. It is by no means finished, but it is progressing steadily.
Mental health is a big deal in the Arcade too. Characters can indeed find themselves suffering with a number of issues. This is all down to their code changing as it evolves. Some find themselves unable to adapt to their roles and suffer as a result. Those who suddenly become homeless when a game is switched off also suffer, as the link to the gmae is severed and with it their ability to regenerate. It is a form of energy depletion which can make the character gloomy, lifeless, often acting out of sorts, or sometimes it makes them act irrationally. It can also open them up to viruses should any happen to get into the system. (A problem now that the Arcade has internet access.)
There is no quick fix for the effects of losing ones game, but the behavioural issues can be treated by accessing a person's code and isolating the negative emotions that surround specific events. I have been able to create a product that can be used universally that is able to isolate these emotions making the character less prone to these episodes and dark feelings. I have made these for myself in a familiar form (Pills so that they can be kept anywhere in the game for me to use at any time and should players see them they won't get suspicious) to counteract the mental effects of constantly having to go through mutation and being killed during game play. I have also created some for a fellow Arcade character who has a need to block out some emotions regarding her back story. (These, of course, are only used after game play, or it would mess with the way we perform during the game.)
I would just like to point out once again, this is not medication in the conventional 'player' sense of the word. No. These are simply lines of code that I have created that access the character's emotional subroutines by ingesting them to quell any negative thoughts and side effects of trauma. A kind of firewall, if you will.
Speaking of trauma, regeneration is another big issue for anyone living in the Arcade. It is very important and is part of daily life for the majority of characters. When you are killed during gameplay, the gamer has two options. Quit, or put in more quarters for another try. If they choose the latter the character will instantly regenerate in perfect health (Or, in some games, with half health) and can carry on. This is classed as a character reset and it simply resets their code to bring them back to full health. This also happens when a person quits and another person starts playing and also at the end of the day after all players leave. Everything resets instantly to it's original state so a fresh game can be played straight away. This includes environments, traps, puzzles and creatures. This has NO effect on the character's personality, back story or memories. It is a soft reset.
This is different outside of Arcade hours, however. Should a person happen to get injured or killed by a fellow character inside their game while the Arcade is closed, regeneration is much slower. Why? I don't know yet. But this is something I must discover. The character can take up to a whole hour to regenerate an injury. You can see it happening and the wound will slowly vanish. But, with death it depends on how severe it is. That seems to determine how long it takes for a character to regenerate. But, as soon as the time is up they regenerate instantly on the spot. Blood, or anything else willl vanish, limbs will instantly reattach and it is like nothing happened.
Outside their game, however, this is different. Wounds stay and death is forever. Wounds sustained outside of the host game should be treated by healing items from their game (If their game has any), or the character must be returned to their game. This also fixes any glitches should they occur. (Rare, but it can happen particularly when carrying a Branch Code.)
And that brings me to the next topic. 'Branch Codes'. There is the myth that we procreate in the same way as players do, which is again wrong and only used to make characters feel equal to those playing them. We do not procreate in the same way at all. The 'baby' does not start life as a bundle of 'cells' because we simply do not have said cells, and those of us who do only have them programmed for a set of very specific events during game play. (Like myself. I have cells programmed purely for my mutations.) No, no. Branch Codes begin as we all begin. As a root code. This code is a by product of two characters joining their codes together. To put it in a crass way, it is because the male and female open themselves up during passionate and intimate moments making it easy for a branch code to form from the joined code. Not only that, but a male character leaks some of his coding when he ejaculates into the female. Again, probably where the myth of being like the players came from. Ejaculation too is different for each character. Since we are not organic creatures, it can be in the form of simple code, or as sticky fluids that contain code. This fluid is not what you think, it is a transmitter.
A Branch Code (I will call them BCs for short) is generated from the union of two codes. Imagine, if you will, striking two pieces of metal together and producing sparks. The sparks that fly from the metal happen to land on hay. The hay ignites creating fire. This is the same principle. The BC, which is initially made up entirely from the 'father's' leaked coding, attaches itself to the root code of the host, the 'mother', and feeds off her coding. By feed, I do not mean that in the literal sense. I actually mean downloading her information as a base for itself. Once its own root code is established and secure enough with all required information stored inside it, it forms its body. The body it takes depends entirely on the parents. Say for example (And science forbid this) Sonic and Princess Peach happened to have a BC together. The BC could choose to take a form like Peach, or be a hedgehog like Sonic depending on which it found more preferential. Sometimes the code chooses to become a mixture of both, as it fits it's skill sets better and helps it blend in more with its surrounding. (This is something I will be doing more research into.)
Now let me dispell this myth once and for all. BCs do NOT start as a cluster of cells, they do not slowly develop inside the womb like a player's infant would. From the moment they finish downloading all the information from the mother, they are a sentient being capable of making basic choices. This is why I refused to go ahead with code culling and why the council has now changed policy. Of course, some characters do not take kindly to that and still see them as a huge threat (Which they are to a certain extent) and kill them behind people's backs.
BCs are a threat. They are dangerous both during the carrying stage and from 'birth'. When a BC is formed and is linked to the hosts root code it can become very dangerous for the host. Not only does the BC sap her energy (A mother is always strongest inside her own game however, so it is advised she should remain there to be safe), she is also in danger of a takeover. In some respects, one could classify a BC as a virus. It is indeed possible for a BC to use the link to the hosts root code to take over them. This is one danger. The other is that a BC might be seen by a player and deemed as a virus, glitch, or generally abnormal. (Particularly the case if players happen to know a lot about a game franchise and see an unknown character that they can't find any information on.) This can lead to the game being shut down and, of course, either homelessness for characters who escape, or death for those who don't.
BCs, however, are not as frowned upon as they once were. This is because of my continued research into them and how they work. Now I have proven that they sre sentient beings even when in the carrying stage, the council is more forgiving and will allow, in some cases, BCs to be born should they be conceived. They have demanded that a strict set of criteria be in place. These are as follows:
- The parents should both be of sound mind and not a threat to themselves or the BC
- The BC must not be a threat to anyone and must be terminated should it threaten the host during the carrying phase, or other characters after birth
- The BC MUST be able to be hidden at all times during game play, or be integrated with a game that has lots of non-interactive background characters
- A couple must disclose any BCs to the council or face prosecution
- Unauthorised BC culling is classed as murder and punishable as such
- Should the host not want the BC they can put in a request to have the BC terminated, or removed and developed in a tank by one William Birkin
- Weak BCs will automatically be removed and placed in tank facillities
A BC, when born, should be taken to the game that they are to be rooted in. While they are not an official character of the game, the coding links up with the environmental coding of the game they are in making them semi-integrated. This also means that they can use the items of that game to heal and go back to this game to heal also.
With all this said, I would just like to point out that this process is not limited to male and female partners. Since it is not a biological process and based entirely on coding and the formation of a rogue strand of coding, male-male and female-female couples can also find themselves hosting should they join codes and get intimate.
Every day I am discovering new things about life as we know it. It makes me wonder just how many people know the things I do. The ignorance of the masses is probably a good thing though. It prevents mass hysteria, or suicides, mental health issues and the like. I don't think it very prudent that everyone should know about my findings. AT least, not yet.
Staring at screens full of code that tell me who each and every person is, who they were coded to be, all of their backstory, faults, skills and limitations. All of that without me even having to meet them. It is maddening. It is the equivalent of a player finding out the meaning of life. It feels such a heavy burden, yet my mind craves more. I need to know more about the Arcade. I need to know how I can change it, how it can be shaped and altered.
My brain is fried. I must sleep.