Today's treat comes from Brenna Yovanoff, author of the delicious debut YA novel, The Replacement. She brings us a little bit of warped and weird gaming/dreaming/living/scaring weirdness. Nice.
Take it away, Brenna!
Here is my bizarre admission: I dream in survival horror.
I suppose that wouldn't really surprise the people who know me (a know about my video game obsession). I only have one favorite kind—crumbling mansions, shambling zombies. B-movies waiting to be made. If there are female characters, ten-to-one they're wearing skirts.
But my dreams aren't anything like the games I play on the weekends, staring into the glow of the television with a disc humming in the console. In those games, you always find a shotgun. The characters are men with flak jackets and sturdy, businesslike names. Chris Redfield, Joseph Frost, Steve Burnside, James Sunderland, and the unlikely Torque. My favorite is named Leon, like in The Professional. They always have shoulder holsters and boots. They have a history of surviving in tight situations. They are never people I relate to.
My dreams are better. Sort of like real life, but brighter. (Also, I'm much braver.) I search through abandoned buildings, collecting weapons, extra flashlight batteries, and sturdy shoes. In an abandoned shopping district, the sporting-goods store is always a safe bet. I clear stages. I look for supplies, survivors, explanations.
Everything is vivid and when a rat sinks its teeth into the web between my thumb and forefinger, it hurts. When a groping hand claws at my calf from beneath a table, adrenaline pours in like water. Things are tactile and complicated in ways a console game could never be. In rooms full of rubble, I search for jewels on my hands and knees.
Later, in front of the television, I'm always disappointed that objects in animated rooms can only be picked up if the computer has already decided they're “interactive.” The AI characters can't actually think, and even though the map shows a whole sprawling, town, you can really only really follow one predetermined path.
I've spent a lot time waiting for the games to get as complicated and strange as my dreams, as full of possibility. I think I'll probably be waiting a long time. Until then, I just use the cheat-code that puts Heather Morris in jeans.