01 Feb A Mysterious Redditor Sent Me a Link to Their Game. I Can’t Stop Playing.
I have two things – and only two things – on my mind: the Game, and the Game. Even writing this now is painful. It takes every fiber of my being to tear my mind from its newfound constant obsession, and earning enough patience to write this Reddit post is quite a feat at this point. I don’t have a lot of time before it steals my mind again, so I will have to be fast. Please, if you see this, if anyone sees this, save yourself while you still can. It’s too late for me.
I have never been one for exploring the internet. My parents spent quite a lot of time warning me about its dangers and all the reasons why you shouldn’t interact with it or use social media; on the other hand, many of my acquaintances tried to make me sign up for Instagram or Tumblr (or whatever social media tickled their fancy at the time). I walked the thin line in between, never signing up for anything but browsing what I could.
But then, those wild teenage years came, and I gave up on obeying my parents. I signed up for everything and anything, and admittedly I was probably the most obnoxious spammer out there. I was that guy who acted like they were nine years old and had no better judgement than to title their Reddit posts “I’MMA BACK FROM LE HOLIDAYZ!!!!!!!!!!1!” unironically when I came back from my Christmas holidays.
As I got older, I learned how to handle myself better. I deleted my original social media accounts and started over, ashamed to ever have acted like that. I became committed to being civil and mature. For someone just barely fifteen years old, that was most certainly a struggle, and I did in fact “break character” several times (resulting in many downvotes and ashamed feelings afterwards), but it was worth it. At least at first. Eventually, I earned myself a small following, and I was pretty happy with my online life, even though my online persona was nothing like my normal self. Even my real-life acquaintances were surprised (and some appalled), wondering just why I had become an utterly different person on the Internet. To that, I still have no answer.
I was sixteen years old when a mysterious user sent me a chat request. This user was called u/Visindy. They had only joined the minute before, and seemed sketchy. But I paused when I saw their message: “Hello, [my name here].”
You could find my real name if you went digging around in my post history, but it was still mildly creepy. I was intrigued, and stupid enough to get into a conversation with them. So I accepted their chat request.
“Who are you? Is this Ellis?” I texted back. It was a test I sent to strangers. I didn’t know anybody named Ellis; if they answered yes, I would know they were trying to trick me.
It took them nearly ten minutes to reply. I waited, fingers drumming against my computer, and they didn’t respond. Just when I was going to dismiss their message as a fluke, they replied.
“No, I am not,” they sent to me. “For lack of a better term, I am…in need of help. You have been selected to beta test a game of mine I have been creating.”
I scoffed. It was so obviously fake, or a scam, but I decided to entertain the notion. I sent to them, “I mean…if you want. Do you have a link?” – half expecting that they were going to send me some bogus URL that didn’t exist.
A minute later, they sent a link that in fact looked pretty fake. (Our conversation history can be found here, with the link removed.) The URL was “visindysgame” (with several random numbers and letters after it) followed by the domain name, which was also a lot of random letters. Being a crazy teenager, I clicked it.
It took several minutes for the page to load. When it did, all I saw was a white screen with a small box in the center and an entry field at the bottom. The small black box was about the same size as a YouTube video, and it had a small loading icon in the center of a little cartoon character jumping up and down. It was kind of cute, actually.
The page reloaded, and the “game” had loaded. My fists involuntarily clenched in excitement as I saw the introduction: a screen with a little fire symbol and the words Firenote Productions. I’d never heard of the studio before; I had the urge to search it up.
The introduction quickly faded to black. I waited in silence for a few moments, and then, that was shattered by a thunderously loud train noise. All my attention was quickly taken by the screen as the black turned into a very realistic 3D rendition of a train station.
The train in front of me was white and made of smooth steel, with a red 990 symbol written on it. The doors in front were open, as if inviting me. I clicked on the doors, and my character entered the train.
It looked like a completely real subway train, with perfectly rendered chairs, poles, and railings. I was impressed. The game looked like it was pretty legit. I swiveled my character toward the windows, and watched in awe as the tunnel rolled by behind the glass. Had I not known this was a game, I would’ve thought it was a video, it was that good.
Something popped up below my entry field. It was a user called “ID3”. Their message said, “Hey, ID4, RU a player or an AI?”
I turned my character around and could’ve sworn that the person standing there was a real human. I texted back in the entry field, “I’m a player. Though I suppose all the AIs would say that, too.”
I saw him typing below. He responded with, “Haha, you’re right. Nice to meet you. My name’s Nigel.”
“My name’s [my name here],” I replied. “Were you sent by a user called Visindy from Reddit?”
“It was on Instagram, but yeah. I didn’t trust it at first. But I clicked on it. And I have to say this is kinda lit.”
“Ikr??” I smiled from his responses. “Idk what we’re supposed to do though. Do we just get off the train later? And where are ID1 and ID2?”
“I have no clue. I guess we’ll see. (; ,” he said.
A few minutes later, the doors in front opened, revealing a dimly lit train station. I walked my character out of the train. When Nigel and I got off, however, I realized that there were no stairs or escalators up onto the surface.
“Wait, where r we supposed to go?” I texted.
Nigel said, “Good question.”
The train rumbled and disappeared down the tracks, leaving us in the train station.
“I think the game broke,” sent Nigel after we were waiting in silence for a good solid five minutes. “Or maybe this is as far as Visindy got.”
“Yeah. RIP. Don’t leave the game just yet, tho. Maybe it’s loading.”
Right on cue, the lights behind us started flickering. Nigel said hurriedly in the chat, “Ooh, what if it’s a horror game?”
I desperately hoped not, but I was getting that vibe.
The lights went out, and we were left in silence. Neither of us dared to type anything. Then, there was a clank, and a long, metallic screech that destroyed my eardrums. Jesus Christ, I thought.
Suddenly, there was an abrupt flash of white light, so fast that it made me yelp in surprise. Then, the screen faded to a red screen that said: That’s not how you beat the level, silly! Would you like to retry from last save point?
I pressed the “retry” button, my hands still trembling from the minor jumpscare. Okay, maybe I had been killed by monsters in the dark or something. I probably had to run from them or something, or maybe work with Nigel to not die. I saw the cartoon character loading screen again, and then it popped me right back in the train. Nigel sat there.
“Wtf was that?!” I said to him.
No reply. I waited, and then, I said, “Hello?”
Nigel didn’t respond. I shrugged. He had probably gone offline and forgotten to close the game. So I waited in silence until the doors of the train opened.
As I walked out, I turned and saw Nigel exiting the train. I sent excitedly, “Hey, Nigel! Did you see what happened?”
When he didn’t respond my spine began to crawl. His character turned to stare me straight in the eye.
Finally, I got a message in the chat from Nigel.
He said, “You weren’t killed by monsters, ID4.”
The lights flickered and went out. The metallic screech echoed again. My heart was pounding. I turned my brightness up, and I saw the silhouettes of the train tracks and Nigel. He was walking toward me with a calm grace.
Abruptly, he lunged, and everything went white. “Fuck!” I swore as the screen went back to the “game over” message. I slammed retry. Nigel was a very convincing AI, and he was terrifyingly well done, too.
I was back on the train again. Nigel sat there, looking down at the ground, the exact same way he had been before. I sent him, “What was that for?”, half expecting him not to reply.
Instead, he responded with, “Sis, you just killed me.”
“No I didn’t,” I sent back.
“Yes, you did. Stop trying that with me. You’re an AI. Or Visindy.”
“I’m not an AI, Nigel! You killed me last round too.”
“Fuck off robot.” His character stood up and turned his back to me. “You killed me last round, and if I had to make a guess, you did the round before. I don’t fall for this kind of shit.”
Unexpectedly, tears sprang to my eyes. I was momentarily distracted as the doors of the train opened, and I clicked to leave the train as soon as possible. Nigel was accusing me of things that he did. Was this the point of the game?
As I walked out of the train, I heard a clicking noise. I turned around and saw Nigel’s character aiming a gun at me.
“The point of this game is to get rid of the monsters,” he sent. “I was given this at the beginning of the game. And now I’m going to win the game.”
The gun fired, and everything went white. As the text generated, I spammed the “save and quit” button, my face probably red with rage. I had to leave the game. Please, let me leave the game.
But all it did was reload the page, leaving me back at the home screen. I closed the tab, but it just popped up again. My breaths came fast and hard, but the page just wouldn’t leave. The more I pressed the “save and quit” button, the more it nagged at me to keep playing.
Finally, I took a long, deep breath, shoving away the irrational dread and fear and anger that had filled me up like a vessel. I pushed the feelings away, decided to put on my big girl pants, and pressed the “retry” button one more time. One last time, I told myself.
I was back on the train station, in the exact same position my character had been moments ago. Nigel texted once more, “And now I’m going to win this game.” I closed my eyes in anticipation. I guess I was going to die again, and again. Was that the point of the game? To die, over and over again, to the same AI?
There was a loud bang that made my ears ring. The bullet whizzed past my character’s ear. Nigel’s face went from rage to surprise to fear in a matter of seconds. He leaped off of the train and took several confident strides toward me. I backed up toward the train, until the two of us were on the edge of the station, over the rails, as the train purred, just moments away from riding down the path.
And that was when I realized what I had to do.
“I’m sorry, Nigel,” I sent him. As the train began to move, I pushed him onto the rails.
Just as he hit the rails, betrayal on his face, the screen went white again. The screen had a little message on it: Congratulations! You have completed the round!
And on the entry field, I had a message from Visindy.
“Well done,” they had sent.
“What did you do??” I sent, in a rage. “This is a horrible game!” I had lost all traces of my manners. I was just like that thirteen-year-old Redditor, lost and uncivil trying to get their point across.
“I’m sorry you think so,” they shot back. “Then leave.”
“Fine.” I took off my headphones. Just as I stood up, my mind immediately went back to the game. Oh, how I wanted to play the Game. It was capitalized now. It deserved to be capitalized. Why did I think it was so bad?
Oh, God no. Oh fuck.
I sat back down tentatively, even though all the fibers in my body desperately wanted me to go back to the game. “What did you do?” I sent again.
“Ah, so you figured it out,” said Visindy. “Do you want to know why I messaged your Reddit? Because you revealed yourself there. You tried so hard to hide yourself, but I know who you are. I know everything about you. I know where you live, I know your full name, I know that you’re sixteen years old and insecure and hiding this all from your parents. I know your passwords, and your personal information. And best of all, I know what made you scared. So I designed the perfect game for you, tailored to you. The sixteen people I gave this game to, I made to be the most frightening for them as possible – and addicting. So have fun. (; .”
That was the last I’ve heard of Visindy. I don’t know how long I’ve been playing. I’ve left the game before, to do mundane things in “real life”, but they have no meaning to me anymore. Only the Game. It hurts so much to not play it. I used to be scared, used to be angry. I used to struggle. But now, it’s become so simple to me. They all try to best me. They all try to betray me. But they fail. Each one of the AIs, lying there on the train tracks, after I pushed them there, realizing that I had just beaten them at their own game, before everything goes white and I smile at another triumph. For I have never been bested.
Please. It’s too late for me now. I’ve been playing for so long, I don’t think I can ever stop. I don’t think I’m even in control anymore. But if you are one of the other fifteen, please, save yourself while you still can. Don’t be me. Don’t fall for Visindy. And if you ever get a message from Visindy, do not click on their game.
Sorry, this is a few days later. I was so silly then. The game is perfectly fine to play. It is the best game I’ve ever played! If you get a link from Visindy you should feel privileged. Carry on, and maybe one day, you will get a link too. And you will be able to play with us.