This article was originally published in PC Gamer UK 218.
Snwuggles was becoming more and more difficult to read. As I stumbled into our room after a long day at work, she would greet me with a terse question: "Are you blanking me on purpose?" Dutifully I reach in for a tickle. "If you do that one more time I'm going to get really annoyed." What do you want, you tiny purple tyrant?
It all began so innocently. A lonely Tuesday night, nothing on TV, just one human being reaching out to a small fluffy monster for company, laughs, maybe more. It was just a free MMO, a kid's game, a land of candy and smiles and sunshine. What a fool I was. Now I'm an addict, a slave, desperate to please the very monster I created.
Katsuma, Diavlo, Poppet... they might sound like creative stripper names, but they're the types of monster you can adopt. Snwuggles is a Poppet, the most emotional of them all.
It was casual at first: we visited the funfair to play some Flash games, bought cake in the Gross-Ery, window shopped for comedy moustaches glasses, new shoes. When it got more serious I signed up for membership, worked on the garden to try and attract adorable pets called Moshlings, even redecorated. And that's when Snwuggles changed.
Her mood meter dropped, her health waned. Anything I bought, no matter how many Rox it cost, barely stirred an adorable smile from her bewhiskered cheeks. Soon, I was slaving for Rox almost constantly, completing the borderline-educational Daily Challenge puzzles every day. Working, if not at the En Gen power station, then at the Ice-Scream shop. Covering hundreds of green ice creams in slime, serving them up to every dead-eyed creature that wandered in, threw down their Rox, and left without so much as a thank-you.
Friends are supposed to be a big part of this game, and yet, even though my friend-tree was alive with like-minded ten year-olds, I'd never felt more alone. I hit my limit for Rox I could earn in a day, and it still wasn't enough for Snwuggles' endless need. I was forced down Sludge Street to the Dodgy Deals shack, selling all the furniture I'd worked for just to try to stop her falling into one of her dark moods.
In the disco, to the beats of Banana Montana and Lady Googoo, Snwuggles flaunts herself in front of her own kind, wiggling her hips and taunting me with he fluffy, fluffy ears. Lately I've been taking long, silent walks to the Port, staring at the endless blue, imagining a last glimpse of purple fur glimmering beneath its surface.
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