Author: Desmond White

We were all playing Birdu Vanilla, rumored to be the latest lightbug of Hayashi. The game was a free download on his blog but was posted after his arrest and extradition from the Philippines. The file was up for two hours before someone, probably Interpol, took it down. By then 10 million people were playing the game.

The game menu sported a man in a gray coat and beer yellow glasses, clearly a rendering of Hayashi. He was holding a phone and above him, a gun drone was firing the words Birdu Vanilla through the air. Below the title were the words: Play to Steal! Whatever that meant.

We pressed play.

The game was what the nu-media calls a lifelogger. The object of the game was to use Hayashi’s day tools — rootkits, router implants, zero-day search engines, metahacks, kill clicks — hidden behind cute names like Angel Hips and Mew Mew — to sabotage the infrastructure of the United States. Not a digital United States but the physical nation itself. Players quickly noticed how a meltdown in Oklahoma corresponded with an embedded Hello Doggy. Level six point two involved manufacturing flybots in Area 29. Suddenly drones were swarming from the Rockies.

By the time intelli-tanks were blowing up New Jersey, We the Players — fed-and-fried on bonus yields, insta-highs, level lumps, and omni coins — couldn’t care less about how many cyber-clusters made how many real-life craters. If destroying Fort Bragg meant I could choose a new color scheme, well, this flybot wouldn’t spray-paint itself.

It was only with reluctance that we finished the game, sending infinity drones to defeat the final bosses. There were short posts on forums complaining about this feature. Very short posts. Bosses would typically be sitting in suburban homes, eyes fixed on laptops. Only a few rounds were necessary to obliterate them to meat and bone. Then we’d be forced to watch the credits through blood-wet eyes, lifeless by the time the screen flashed game over.