This is a short piece that originally appeared in PC Gamer, recalling a key moment in my gaming life. While playing Call of Duty I experienced something horrific. I survived a level by hiding. It was humiliating, and with Call of Duty’s emphasis on the cruelty of war, I felt broken. The piece was written for the Double Life section of Gamer, which adopts the voice of the character. Hence, it’s melodrama. But it captures an honest moment of horror in response to my own instincts. Have games affected you this way? Revealed your weaknesses, or made you feel wracked with guilt?
All’s not fair in love or war
My name is Alexei, and I am a coward.
I’m a conscript, and I don’t want to be here. This isn’t my war, this isn’t my battle, this isn’t something I ever asked for. I am not a soldier. I’m not interested in being a soldier. When I was a child, the other boys would spend their afternoons chasing each other through the woods, shooting each other with sticks, practising for this. I sat in my house, the door closed, and only occasionally looked out of the window. That was where I was happy. That is where I would be happy now. Now I’m being shot at by men who don’t know me, men who look exactly like me.
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