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When the Game Is Over, Where Do Our Avatars Go?

In the 2003 Major League Baseball season, Oreo Queefs stood five-foot-zero, weighed 385 kilos, and, impossibly, stole 214 bases, obliterating the century-old single-season file of 138. A walrus with the legs of a cheetah, the purple goateed Queefs additionally usually blasted the ball 500 toes to reverse discipline—steroid-free beefiness by no means seen earlier than or since. Over simply two seasons with the Florida Marlins, he batted .680, hit 203 house runs, and was ejected for charging the mound 46 occasions. Then, earlier than even reaching his tremendous alien prime, Queefs vanished into skinny air.

Just a few weeks in the past, I acquired a textual content from the Marlins supervisor about what occurred to the previous Golden Glove winner. Queefs has fallen on arduous occasions. The now 43-year-old lives along with his uncle in a rented trailer in Nevada, the place the 2 run a failing off-off-Strip sausage stand referred to as Queefs’ Kielbasa Kiosk. He is twice divorced, the supervisor tells me, hasn’t seen his 15-year-old son in 12 years, and is on probation for tried theft of a bait and sort out store.

In actuality, Oreo Queefs exists solely on a PlayStation 2 reminiscence card, now doubtless corroding in an jap Massachusetts landfill. The supervisor is my childhood pal Chris, onetime proprietor of the EA Sports sport MVP Baseball 2003. We conceived Queefs one summer season night time the one means two 13-year-old boys know easy methods to procreate: our lubricant being 2 liters of Diet Pepsi glugged straight from the bottle, our uterus the sport’s Create-a-Player display screen. The X and Y buttons dictating our designer child’s chromosomes, we selected his peak, weight, cheekbone construction, pace, imaginative and prescient, and batting sizzling zones. We bestowed our firstborn with essentially the most superior identify our post-9/11 pubescent brains may consider, and we watched with satisfaction as he eviscerated the league.

Then, as players do, we received tired of our youngster, deserted him, and conceived a number of extra, together with Garlics Pepperonis, whose anatomically absurd chicken-wing formed arms single-handedly led Cal State Fullerton to its first nationwide title in basketball (College Hoops 2K6), and FB#44, the anonymous Alaskan fullback who received 4 consecutive Heisman trophies (NCAA Football 2007). Then, on dirty futon couches in faculty, I made extra youngsters with different mates, together with Uka Pryzvashevki, a 7’1″, 140-pound Bulgarian heavyweight champion (Fight Night Round 2), and Y. Anus, all transition lenses and robin’s-egg blue sweater vests, who coached the Maine Black Bears for 130 seasons (most of them simulated), and finished his career with a staggering record of 1,654–19 (NCAA Football 2009).

I haven’t played any of these games in a decade, but over the years my friends and I have updated one another on the lives of our created characters. They’ve all plummeted from glory. Pepperonis is in prison for embezzling from his alma mater’s dining hall. Anus, now 168 years old, is hiding in Peru, wanted by the feds for tax evasion and by his nine former simultaneous lovers for his duplicity.

The media has been overanalyzing why millennials can’t grow up since the oldest millennials have been legal grownups. Still, I can’t help but take the fact that at 32—an age when, for example, Jesus Christ was leading his friends and then much of humanity to eternal salvation—my friends and I text one another during the workday about how the videogame characters we created when we were teenagers have become financially insecure, criminally prone deadbeat dads, and ask, why?

The author Sam Anderson not too long ago quipped that “the world of sports media is basically where American men go to avoid therapy.” The identical is broadly true of sports activities videogames (the place there stays a dearth of feminine athletes), and very true of conjuring the afterlives of fictional sports activities videogame characters. As youngsters, we lived our desires vicariously by means of their record-shattering, gobsmacking successes. As adults, we course of our actual setbacks and failures by means of their imagined setbacks and failures.

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