Once there was a silly video game called Flower Walk. No one got shot, and nothing happened except you picked flowers. The graphics weren’t very good, but the game was free on the first levels, so it was a hit with the six-to-eight little girls crowd (none of whom should have had smartphones, but that’s society for you).
So the little girls would pick flowers and skip down a path in a wood. Then the programmers got messages from some of the girls thanking them for the awesome unicorn graphics. Nothing in the program was set up to give unicorn graphics, and the programmers didn’t even believe the girls when they got screen shots of high definition unicorns in their pixellated forest. They figured the girls were photoshopping in unicorns as some kind of prank.
Then the programmers started getting fan mail about the “unicorn adventure” where the little girls would go off the flower path and follow the unicorn. They would follow the unicorn to a little candy cottage, where they would be chased by an ugly old witch, so realistic she terrified them.
The programmers were mystified by the reports, because nothing in the program showed them anything but a flower path, and all the HD graphics the girls were describing wasn’t even on their bandwidth. They monitored the girls’ games, and could see no difference between the regular adventures and the “unicorn” ones.
But the game got very popular, and the programmers were happy they were making money with upgrades. They eventually started advertising the unicorn adventure and claiming it was part of the game.
Then the gaming regulators stepped in with a ruling that the unicorn adventure made the game too scary and slapped the game with an over-13 requirement. There were complaints from some users that the witch continued appearing in the game even when the girls weren’t at her cottage. She would show up and start tearing up the flowers in front of the girls. Some girls had nightmares and the programmers were at their wits’ ends. It looked like the game would need to be pulled.
They contacted a fifteen-year-old gamer called Lola, who had her own fan following and a fully immersive game room complete with suspended goggles and flexible arm supports. Lola had beaten every game she played. She ran a successful empire of gamer fitness bars and sold videos of the gamer exercise program.
The programmers offered Lola a Wall Street hourly wage to help them fix the unicorn bug. She was to play the game in every way until she figured how to trigger the unicorn and then how to beat the witch.
Lola spent three months in the game, running it through to the highest level, without seeing the unicorn. She was pissed, because it felt like a failure. So she bought the isolation tank she’d been wanting to get, and jacked herself into electrodes and the works. Everything that happened in the game she would feel real-time. It was only when Lola decided to play like a little girl, blithely skipping along and picking flowers at random, that the unicorn appeared. Lola was terrified to leave the game, afraid she’d never get it back. She spent days in the tank, fed by mouth, trying to beat the witch. Finally she found a branch on a tree, tore it off, and stabbed the terrifying witch. But instead of ending, the unicorn then led Lola to a town and a castle. Lola met a HD prince, who asked her to be his bride. Lola clicked yes. Three days later her body was found in the isolation tank. The Japanese term Karoshi was used on her death certificate. It means worked to death.
Players of Flower Walk report that now when they travel on the unicorn path they just pass an unoccupied candy house on the way to the town. Then they go on to candy city, where they meet a beautiful princess that bears a striking resemblance to Lola. Some have mixed feelings about the programmers tribute to Lola. Only the programmers know that they never wrote her into the program.
- U is for Unicorn from A Life Full of Adventure (alifefullofadventure.blogspot.com)
- RUA2: Robot Unicorn Attack 2 (twilightsoft.com)
- Mythical Creature Kicks – These Magical Unicorn High Heels are Glamorously Chic (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- The Unicorn (shianejacocksenglish104a.wordpress.com)
- How Unicorns Get Their Names (askribbin.wordpress.com)
- Unicorn Facts. (hopingforcourage.wordpress.com)
- I’m Really A Unicorn (typicalhousecat.com)
- U: U is for “UNI THE UNICORN” (deadmanstales.wordpress.com)