Bluescreen Early Access: Fang!

It’s 2016, and distance is becoming less important–we communicate through phones and the Internet more than we do in person, and more of our social lives become digital every day. By 2050, in the world of Bluescreen, distance is practically meaningless. You don’t even have to pull out a phone anymore: just think it, and your djinni can connect you to anyone, anywhere in the world. Marisa has friends right there in LA, like Sahara and Anja and Bao, but she also has close friends on the other side of the planet, and even though they’ve never met in person they’re virtually inseparable. Say hello to Wong Fang, from Beijing.

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Fang is younger than the other girls by a couple of years, but she is by far the most obsessed with Overworld, and she and Marisa have been on the team together longer than anybody else. Fang is…well, maybe I need to explain a little bit about Overworld. It’s a virtual reality game, which is basically just a mashup of my favorite video games all blended together and turned into a sport. Imagine League of Legends crossed with City of Heroes crossed with Counter Strike–you move across a map fighting minions and killing towers and trying to blow up the enemy’s base, but you’re down inside of the action, running and jumping and everything, plus you get to customize your powers and appearance down to a ridiculous degree of control. That’s actually how Marisa and Fang met–Fang was looking to start a team, and Marisa had just gotten famous for some of her costume designs, and they started talking. Just like a sport, each player has a position: soccer has Forwards and Defenders and such, and Overworld has things like General and Sniper. Fang is the Jungler, which basically means that she sneaks around in the sewers underneath the map killing monster and hunting other players. Why is it called a Jungler if they play in the sewers, especially considering that most maps don’t even have jungles or sewers in them? The kids in 2050 have no idea–those are old, old terms from back when their grandparents were playing games, and they’ve just stuck around in common usage.

The thing about Fang is that she’s kind of two people–online, playing Overworld, she’s a stone-cold killer and a boisterous, irreverent jokester. She eats, sleeps, and breathes Overworld, and a passable coder, and she loves getting involved in the schemes and trouble the other girls drag her into. Offline, though, she’s quiet and shy. She doesn’t know how to talk to people face-to-face, and prefers to live as much of her life as possible in a virtual reality instead of a real one.

As a writer, it was both fun and challenging to write a character who never appears in person–fun because it was different, and because I got to find cool new ways to keep her relevant to the story even though she’s all the way on the other side of the world. The challenge came from the fact that keeping her relevant was way, way too easy–distance really is meaningless, like I said, and if Marisa was ever in trouble for any reason her friend Fang was right there for her, always, anywhere. Writing a world in which communication is so constant, and everything is always connected, really kept me on my toes and helped me see the future–and the present–in a new light.

Who should we talk about next week? So far everyone’s been friends, so how about someone they don’t really trust? How about the other half of the big, mysterious feud at the center of Marisa’s life: Omar Maldonado.

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