“Hey, honey, take this bread and put it out for the ducks,” my mother yells from the kitchen.

“In a minute,” I yell back. I just had to finish this last online match of a video game I’ve been playing for some time now. Unfortunately, my mom doesn’t understand that you can’t pause these kinds of games.

“Dane, I kind of need you to put it out now. It’s going to rain soon,” she ear-gratingly yells.

“Give me a minute!” I shake my head and curse under my breath. She doesn’t understand. I need a distraction from life every once in a while. She stays at home every day and watch her soap operas. Every day for me is the same process: go to high school, get harassed for being a freshman, get a test back to find out that I’ve made a D (again), then get pushed into the grass by some scene assholes. Gaming allows me to take a break from those problems and just have fun.

“I said ‘Now!’” she yells one more time. The timer in the game is at 45 seconds. I can make it. I finish the game, coming in second place, then go feed the ducks so my mom will pipe down. I take the bread and dump it near a birdbath in our front yard and return inside, only to start another game. After a while, the game starts to bore me. I just bought this game because it was cheap; for what I was given, it was only worth that much. Three maps, five basic weapons, and only one generic game mode. I wanted something new, but didn’t have the money to buy anything else.

I shut down the game console and look through articles on a gaming website. Half of the articles are about or guides for a game called League of Legends. The graphics were cartoony, and the gameplay looked rather generic to me. However, it was a game that was brand new to me. I called my girlfriend, another avid gamer, and asked her if she had ever heard about this game.

“Yeah,” she said, “it’s very fun! There are hundreds of characters to choose from, all with different abilities!”

“That sounds amazing!” I was in awe. I had to buy this game. “Damnit,” I realized, “I don’t have the money to buy another game right now; at least, not for another couple of months.”

My girlfriend giggled. “That’s one of the best parts of the game: it’s completely free!”

My eyes bulged! This game sounded incredible. For all of the characters and game modes, it was too good to be true. I rapidly accessed the League of Legends website and downloaded the game. I clicked on the icon, and the menu screen booted up.

Installing patch 1.0.8 (0%)

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me! After five minutes, the patch was only 1% downloaded. I checked the time. It was 10:30 PM. I figured I’d leave the game to download overnight and play it after school.

I came home from school the next day with a list of usernames from my friends. They apparently all played the game. I looked at the menu screen and the ‘Play’ button had turned from a dull gray to a saturated gold. After clicking the button, the game led me to the tutorial screen where I learned the basics of gameplay. I played a couple of game against computer controlled enemies and queued myself in a real game once I felt comfortable. While I was waiting for a match to be found, I looked at the champions available for the week. There were ten champions from which were available. The list included Katarina, Trundle, Soraka, Orianna, Teemo, Ezreal, Draven, Jax, and Sona. But there was one champion that caught my eye. His name was Swain. He was a ranged character who sported a cane and always had a bird on his shoulder. I decided to choose him, and I played through the game. I played horribly with him, scoring one kill, twenty-four deaths, and seven assists. Maybe he wasn’t the champion for me. I experimented with the other characters, but I didn’t like them as much as I did Swain. I researched guides, item builds, strategies, and basically anything that would help me become better with this champion.

My friends occasionally played with me, but they usually had homework to complete. I wasn’t a fan of homework, so most of my time after school was used to play the game and perfect Swain.

“Come on, you guys,” I begged my friends, “Let’s just play one more game!”

“Sorry, dude,” my friend Jace said, “the newest shooter just came out! Caitlyn and I are going to be playing it for some time.”

I groan. “Whatever, man. I’m sticking to League.”

“You have fun with that,” he says as I hear him hang up the phone.

“Hey, Dane!” Damnit, not my mom again. “Come take out the bread!”

I grab the bread and head out of the house. Today was strange though. There were no ducks outside. Instead, there was a raven positioned on the birdbath. Ravens are my favorite type of bird, especially since I found out Swain can turn into a raven. I slowly approach it. The raven stares at me with its black, empty eyes. I reach into the bag, and it tilts its head to the side, down to the bread, then back at my eyes. I break off a piece and throw it on the ground. The raven breaks his gaze with me, hops down the birdbath, and grabs the bread. It swallows the bread then its eyes return to mine. I throw another piece down, and the raven repeats the process. Then I remembered something. Swain constantly has a raven perched on his shoulder. How cool would it be if I could do that! I break off another piece of bread and this time, I place it on my shoulder. The bird flies up, lands on my shoulder and eats the piece. He remains on my shoulder until I start walking, then he flies back to the ground. I reach in for another piece of bread, but I realize that I had run out.

“Sorry little guy,” I say to the raven. The raven bobs his head up and down, and flies away. I return inside to play some more League of Legends.

At this point, two months after I had installed the game, I had become proficient with Swain, racking up multiple kills and taking down turrets left and right. I had the right items necessary to balance ability power with armor and magic resistance. My highest score in a game so far was in Dominion mode where I scored twenty-six kills, 2 deaths, and 11 assists. I loved this character, and I even ended up buying the Tyrant skin for him. I felt like a total badass in the game.

After school the next day, I eagerly leave the bus, buy some bread from a gas station with some loose change, and come home to find the raven perched on a bench on my porch. He eyes me, and starts excitedly flapping his wings. He then flies over and lands itself on my shoulder. I open up the bread, break off a piece, and give it to him. He rubs his head against the side of my head, then flies off. I watch as he leaves, but then I notice something. He doesn’t leave; he circles above the house, almost awaiting my command. I step inside, then outside again. He comes down from the sky and lands on my shoulder again. I give him a piece of bread. I look ahead and finally see the group of ducks return. They eye the bag of bread and charge over to me. The raven then dismounted my shoulder, flew over to the ducks, and started attacking them, pecking at their heads, wings, and even their eyes. I was astounded. This bird was actually defending me from little “minions.” I gave the bird two pieces of bread before it returned to the sky. While I’m playing another game of League, I receive a text message from a friend.

Hey man were going to the movie theater tonite. Wanna join us?

Sure why not, I replied. I figured it was time to take a break from League anyway. I wasn’t playing well today. I put on a hoodie and walked out the door. The raven swooped down onto my shoulder again. Oh shoot! I forgot the bread. He rubbed his head against mine again, so I figured he’d be okay without any kind of treat. I walked to the movie theater with the raven on my shoulder the entire time. I met with my friends, and they were dumbfounded by the raven.

“I trained him to come to me whenever I’m out of the house,” I explained. “He even fought against a group of ducks.” My friends started laughing. I know my story sounded ridiculous, but it was just something they had to see to believe.

“Oh yeah?” my friend Victor teased me. “Make him leave then come back to you!”

“I’m five steps ahead of you,” I confidently replied. I snapped my finger and pointed up. He immediately flew off my shoulder and started circling the air above. My friends were still skeptical, so I clapped twice, and he flew down and onto my shoulder. My friends were now in awe.

“How did you train him to do that?” said Jace. Before I could say anything though, our group was approached by a group of juniors. There were three people in the group, named Daruis, Lee, and Vlad. They constantly picked on our group, claiming that we were all a waste of human life. They’ve been doing this since the beginning of the school year. Now that we met outside of school, I knew our punishment was going to be more severe than just a push down the hill. They picked up Jace, Victor, and I and took us to the back of the theater. They threw us onto the ground and started punching and kicking us. I got up and punched back, landing a hit on Lee. Vlad and Daruis stopped kicking Jace and charged towards me. I clapped twice, and the raven came down. The boys stopped. They all yelled some form of “What the fuck?”

I simply replied, “The early bird guts the worm.”

I see him fly off my shoulder into the sky. He gathers a group of about ten birds who all proceed to attack the group of boys. My raven flies off my shoulder, lands on Darius’ head, and delivers a hard peck to his eye. Darius’ eye popped and blood burst out. He ran away, eye still bleeding. I was horrified, but I couldn’t resist clenching my fist and saying under my breath, “You have slain an enemy.” The birds attacking Darius moved on to Lee. He was covered in bite marks and yelling in agony. I yell at the birds to stop. They continued pecking Lee. I tried other phrases until I finally found one that worked: “R.” ‘R’ was the button on the keyboard that activated Swain’s ultimate, which sends out a group of ravens to deal damage to enemies. The birds flew off, and my raven returned to my shoulder. Lee was disoriented, but still attempted to charge at me. Suddenly, he started foaming in the mouth, his body violently jerking.

“Rabies,” I state under my breath. After about another 10 seconds of convulsions, Lee let out his last breath. “Double kill,” I utter. I look around and find Jace and Victor badly beaten. They attempt to get up, but can’t seem to do so. They stare at me in awe, then to the ravens in the sky.

“What the hell was that?” said Jace.

I looked to the sky as well and replied, “An impeccable decision.”

“Dane, behind you!” I hear Victor yell.

I turn around, and without warning, I feel a hard hit to the front of my head. I fall to the ground. I’m pretty sure my skull is fractured and has punctured my frontal lobe. Standing above me is Vlad with a steel baseball bat, a brick, and a rope. I’m too dazed to move. He ties my hands behind my back, then ties my legs together. He then places the brick between my legs. Oh shit! I’ve seen this scene in a movie before. My eyes widen, I brace for the impact. The bat hits my knee cap, bending and eventually snapping the bone in half. I let out a shriek of pain. Before he can break the other leg, I see Vlad get tased by a cop, then I fade out of consciousness.

I wake up the next morning in the hospital, leg in a cast. The time is 7:30 AM. It’s been only 9 hours since the beating, but I feel okay. Due to the head injury, the doctors had to shave my head, but it looks like they missed a few spots, as now there are only three patches of hair. One in a line down the middle, then two more parallel lines two inches apart. I attempt to get out of the bed, but the pain in my leg is too great. I can’t walk. I’m not staying in this hospital though; there are too many battles to be won, too many strategies to be planned, too many nexuses to destroy. I try again, this time pushing through the pain, telling myself over and over again, “A Noxian does not dawdle.” I grab a spare crutch that the staff had placed in the corner of the room along with my phone and start limping down the hallway of the hospital. A nurse attempts to stop me, but I hit him over the head with the crutch. He is stunned for about five seconds, just enough time for me to get ahead of him. A doctor then demands me to go back into my room. I take my crutch and swing it upward, hitting him in the groin. I make a B-line to the elevator. I get in and close the door in time. I had escaped them. I sneak out through a maintenance hallway and finally reach the outside. I take a moment to breathe in the fresh air before continuing on my way back home. There’s one problem though: I’m only in a hospital gown. I can’t go home looking like this. Another doctor comes outside and charges toward me. I hit him across the face with the crutch before hitting him in the temple, knocking him unconscious. I pull him into an alleyway where I proceed to strip him of all of his clothing besides his underwear and doctor’s coat. I finally get dressed, and I continue on my way back to the base, my home. I come to a bus stop where I see a familiar face. The raven, perched on top of the bus stop, squawks with excitement and hops down to my shoulder. He rubs the side of my head, and I smile at him. “Victory awaits,” I proclaim.

I manage to get on a bus and start on my way home. Then I have a moment of realization. Bird on my shoulder, limp leg, using only one crutch, the hairstyle. Oh my god. I have become Swain. I shifted from loving the character to becoming the character. This sick obsession, it will never leave. I will always have control over the ravens, I will always my life hobbling  along with a cane, I will always be Swain. My friends did the right thing: they separated their time. They took the game in moderation, and that’s why they still enjoy it. Is this punishment for my obsession? Hell, better that it happened to me than to anyone else.

My phone ringed. I had received a picture message from my girlfriend. She must’ve had no idea of what I had become. It was a picture of a stuffed animal with the text caption, “Have you seen my bear Tibbers?”

Oh no…not you too… 

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