The flashing red of the words Game Over: Extinct floated in front of my tired eyes, taunting me. I had seen this same screen of failure seven different times today so far.
Anger overcoming my sense, I tore the virtual reality goggles off my face and cursed loudly as I threw it onto the couch. Glaring at the dark set of lenses for a few seconds, I turn my attention instead to the blank white wall behind the couch and focused on breathing in and out deeply a few times in order to steady myself.
My roommate walked into the room right as I repeated this out loud. He paused mid step, staring at me for a second before collapsing into laughter. “So did you beat the game yet champ?” chuckles Chad mockingly.
I glare at him for a second before shuffling over to sit down next to the goggles. Picking them up and holding them gingerly in one hand, I shake my head silently.
Cackling while he moves to sit next to me, Chad reached over to take the goggles from my hands so he could see my stats for my games today.
“I guess I was right and you were wrong about those humans huh kid?”
He likes to call me kid even though he’s only 91 years older than me. As if that makes a big difference. But it made him feel good and I’m the kind of guy that others might call a pushover. But I didn’t think of myself that way. I just like to help people.
Shaking my head slowly while I keep my gaze on the goggles I reply, “No… Humans are just more difficult than the other races.”
“That basically what I said!” He snorts in derision.
“No,” I remind him. “You said that they it was impossible to get humanity to survive once they industrialized.”
“Was I wrong? This data shows that you lost every single game less than 500 years after global industrialization.” He says looking up from the goggles.
I incline my head as I consider every game and what went wrong.
“I did that’s true… but humanity is the most difficult for good reason.”
Chad laughs out loud at this. “How can you possibly say that?! Every species in the game has been known to be able to colonize the entire galaxy in the hands of the right player.”
I reply quietly, “Yea Chad I know but-”
He continues as if I hadn’t spoken. “Every one of thousands of different species have been known to do this. Except for humanity. The best anyone had done so far in terms of exploration was able to get to their planet Earth’s moon.”
I reply a little more loudly, “Yes Chad I’m aware but-”
“They’re just stupid bro don’t worry about them. They’re hopeless and-”
I’m almost shouting in frustration as I try to get my point in, “They are NOT hopeless.”
Chad looks at me as if really seeing me for the first time. I don’t continue, wary that he will interrupt again or fly off the handle. But he nods and simply says, “Explain.”
I look down into my twelve fingers folded into my lap as I struggle to think how I can explain what I believe effectively to someone who does not believe the same. This is why I liked being roommates with Chad though. He could be obnoxious at times due to his overbearing manner but he knew how to listen and was especially always willing to listen to another’s side of their story.
“OK… Its like this. Humanity is a race of newborns. They bump into each other with their eyes closed. They fight because of this, thinking that everyone else does what they do on purpose or to spite them. They are the center of their own universe with a very poor concept of time. Really, they are all just infant’s looking for a home.”
“That’s very beautiful and all,” Sneered Chad, “but what about their obsession with war?”
“I don’t know if obsession is the right word… Well-maybe you’re right on that count. They do have an average conflict rate per capita 400% above the average galactic guideline. Fighting over anything and everything. Plus they have only ever gone to war with themselves! How silly really.”
“Give them religion and tell them to love and they will fight over which God is better.” Nods Chad agreeingly.
“That isn’t a bad thing necessarily,” I reply. “They are a fierce people who believe strongly enough to give their life for causes much more often than the average galactic guideline. I find that kind of courage admirable.”
“Or just bloodthirsty and stupid.” Snorts Chad pejoratively.
I reply calmly, “they may not be as intelligent as other similarly aged species. But humanity is more creative than any other species we’ve modeled by far. They would rather interpret their world through many different languages and mediums. Hell, the galaxy wouldn’t have art as it exists today if it weren’t for humanity. They may destroy the only planet that they exist on and treat large portions of their population with disdain but I believe that unfathomable goodness exists within every human being. For every depravity that they embody at the same time they give us creations of unimaginable beauty. I have hope for humanity.”
“Dude its just a game.”
“You’re right,” I reply, “I need to do something else, let’s order some pizza: their greatest creation.”