It was a quiet afternoon in Kansas City, the local high schools were just getting out for the day, and ominous thunderclouds were rolling over the city. It was the perfect sort of day for the local dreamsphere arcade, Sphereholics. Their teenage customers were more likely to want to hang out somewhere with a roof to avoid the incoming rain, and the crowd there should be bigger than normal for that. For the moment, however, things were quiet.
"How do the machines look today Arty?" Jack asked from behind the ticket counter, which doubled as a snack bar, stuffed to the brim with candy, chips, soda and energy drinks, all of the junk food varieties that teenagers found necessary to survival. Jack was a pleasant looking fellow, thin and tall with dark hair, dark eyes and an ever-present smile. In addition to making sure everyone paid for their playtime, Jack had a rather large computer screen before him, split up to show all of the game hubs for the dreamspheres, as well as the camera that kept an eye on the players and their condition. Jack kept an eye on everything, not only to make sure that no one abused the dreamspheres or behaved badly in the games, but also to make sure that no one had some sort of medical accident while in the game. It was a system they added early on in their business days, when someone had behaved quite inappropriately, and someone else had a seizure because of the game they had chosen to play.
"They look fine Jack, the new batch of games will all run perfectly smoothly." Arty said as he walked up to the counter, wiping grease from his hands with a dirty rag. Arty was the technician of the two-man team, he prided himself for keeping the dreamsphere's clean and well-maintained, as well as finding and destroying any game glitch that the developers might miss. Arty, a short and stout guy with curly brown hair, bright green eyes and glasses, was the reason why Sphereholics was one of the top dreamsphere arcades in the county, and game developers across the world sent their software to him for final testing before it was released to the public, games that Arty tests while the arcade is empty during school hours.
It was because of the dreamsphere's creation in 2015 that arcade gaming was able to make such an amazing comeback. Home consoles had dominated the market for years, until a group of incredibly smart and talented gamers got together in 2012 to create the new gaming company Dreamnet, promising the world they would be the next big thing in gaming. While all the other gaming companies were perfecting their motion-controlled 3D gaming, Dreamnet released their first console, and blew them all out of the water with a virtual reality system. Developers all over hopped on board to making games for the incredible new system, but Dreamnet wasn't done there. Three years later they released the Dreamsphere total immersion arcade system, and a landslide of amazing games to go with it. The system was able to appeal to all ages, from elementary school kids to soccer moms, the Dreamsphere could make anyone's fantasy a reality.
Then, in January of 2018, Dreamnet released what in just a few short months, has become the undisputed king of all the Dreamsphere games, the party RPG called Broken Will. The medieval fantasy game linked what until this point had been a solitary gaming experience together, asking for friends and strangers alike to defeat the complex, non-linear plot.
It didn't take long for the expected droves of people to enter the still small arcade, each person passing by Jack, paying him for a few hours worth of playtime. One by one they were directed to their dreamspheres, bringing the quiet arcade humming to life as eight very different people logged in to Broken Will together. Once they finished their character creation, they would find themselves beginning the game.
As soon as the final character was finished, the loading screen around each player faded away, and a beautiful forest clearing was brought into focus. They would also find that they were no longer alone, which was a very jarring experience for anyone playing Broken Will for the first time. There was one trail leading out of the clearing, but this space was quite obviously meant for the players to get some sort of familiarization going with each other before they jumped into the game.
Zath: Behold, Karo: The only woman in existence who can make Fenix shut the fuck up.
Redsnow: That, and, frankly, if Karo doesn't like you that much, your character is probably going to die soon after his acceptance anyway.
Keiran: Bad RPs don't get picked, unmemberable RPs get ignored.
Zelosse: I don't usually laugh at blatant attitude, but when I do. It usually involves Karo.