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Chapter 4
Alternate Games

Fit For a King?

by NANCY GONGLIKWANYEOHEEEEEEEH, Alternate Reality News Service Technology Writer

The problem with 36 hour battles in Worlds of Wowcraft is that you can’t pause the action to go to the bathroom. The orc that disemboweled you wouldn’t even deign to laugh, although you might notice a slight upcurl in its self-satisfied grin as it was wiping your blood off its sword.

Avid gameplayer Jerzy D’Attilio was keenly aware of this problem, having been born with a weak bladder. “After the fourth time I blew a campaign,” he remembered, “I knew I had to do something. Word got around, and it was getting harder and harder to find people to play with!”

What D’Attilio did was create the first version of what has come to be known as “The Throne.” Essentially, it is a chair with a hole in the bottom. Tubes that snake through the hole fit snugly around the player’s privates and take their bodily fluids and excretions away to be disposed of.

“I’m a 72nd level blacksmith now!” D’Attilio enthused. “And, I owe it all to The Throne!”

There the matter may have stayed, just another case of low-level American Ingenuity and Can-Doness (even though D’Attilio is actually Belgian), if not for the intervention of Austin Pendleberger, Vice President of Research and Development for MultiNatCorp subsidiary SoftWorld, Inc. subsidiary SWI Peripherals.

“We have bots constantly monitoring the Net,” Pendleberger explained, “searching for innovations we can…improve upon. Yeah. That’s it. Improve upon.

“Well, when we heard about The Throne, we knew we were onto something big. I admit it: I openly wept with joy.”

Pendleberger realized almost immediately that if gamers were going to play for 36 or more straight hours, they would need to replenish the food and fluids that they lost. In short: they would have to eat and drink. For this reason, SWI Peripherals developed the Queen Victoria model, which had a built in IV drip, and, for traditionalists, the Queen Victoria Deluxe, with a built in sidecar refrigerator with mechanical arms that feed the player.

“The mechanical arms were especially difficult to perfect,” SWI Peripherals research scientist Adolfo Adorno proudly stated. “In early tests, it often slapped players in the head with California rolls or juice boxes, or tried to feed them their own noses. Too often for the comfort of our lawyers. However, the chair now employees a sophisticated AI routine that can tell the difference between, say, California rolls and human noses, and these sorts of things hardly ever happen any more. Our lawyers are happy, anyway.”

Another problem with long-term, intense game playing is that muscles tense and can painfully cramp up. “You don’t know what pain is,” said Myron Flaxon, sports gynecologist, “until you’ve had a shoulder muscle clench up on you, what we call a charley monkey.”

To combat this serious problem, the Prince Charles was developed with vibrators built into the chair, and a programme that directed the arms to periodically massage players’ muscles. “Oh, reports of incidents of nipples being twisted off are highly exaggerated,” Adorno assured us.

The Throne can be bought in various configurations depending upon one’s budget. The entire package is known as the Louis Fourteenth. This model includes all of the features described above, as well as a phone answering function that offers up to 24 pre-recorded excuses that can be tied to specific numbers.

While The Throne seems to be a boost for gamers, it has other people worried. Doddering Studios, the producers of World of Wowcraft, believe that using it is a form of cheating, since those who can afford it have an obvious advantage over those who do not. (In fact, there are already at least three police investigations of deaths of relatively poor gamers who appear to have been electrocuted by homemade Thrones.)

Another concerned group is the International Olympic Committee. “We do not allow people to use The Throne in official competition, of course,” explained IOC Chair Grette van Gritty. “However, we cannot stop them from using it in training, which, I would say, is not in the spirit of amateur competition.”

How has creating The Throne changed D’Attilio’s life? When I asked SWI Peripherals’ Pendleberger, he asked, “Who?” When I put the question to D’Attilio himself, he responded, “Are you kidding? Everybody wants to play with me now! They’ve even given me a nickname: ‘The Machine!’ Right now, I’m training to beat the record of 168 hours of straight online play! Man, was it worth it!

“No amount of money can buy that respect. Not that I couldn’t use it…”

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