Jay and Buddy are losers. Senior year is almost over and they’re as unpopular as ever.
Everything changes when, in a dusty corner of the high-school’s AV room, they discover The Build, a pixel-perfect computer simulation that appears to be a replica of their hometown. When the boys start tweaking the game’s code, they notice that their changes affect their real world. They’re living, they realize, inside a video game. With godlike power suddenly in their hands, they react as any high schooler would, and hack reality to make their senior year awesome.
But someone--or something--is watching. When The Build’s creator finds his NPCs tinkering with his game, he targets Jay and Buddy for deletion. Thus begins a surreal battle, where Jay and Buddy must rely on their gaming knowledge to save themselves--and the very fabric of existence.
I write ad copy by day, stuff like Simple Bank’s masthead video, PUMA football’s 2017 global campaign, and (being in Portland, OR) plenty of Nike material.
But if you’ve heard my name before, it’s probably because I’m that guy that made a viral video that a million and a half people saw, an open letter to JJ Abrams with some ideas on how to make Star Wars great again. To my surprise and delight, he listened, called me to express his approval, and then incorporated my four story rules into The Force Awakens. If nothing else, the experience taught me to trust my instincts as a storyteller.
In 2010, I wrote The World of Warcraft’s Guide to Winning at Life for Chronicle Books, a satirical self help guide on how to level-up your real life game by deploying your WoW skillz. With In Beta, I’m returning to video games, humor, and longer form narrative. A long-time gamer, I’ve been tinkering with this idea for years. Thank you Inkshares and Nerdist for inspiring me to get it out there.
I’m a fan of absurdist humor. The Metamorphosis. Catch-22. A Confederacy of Dunces. Pineapple Express. I’m interested in stories that start small and human (two lovestruck high school losers) and then go bigger, crazier and completely over-the-top.
This is a story about the myth of the american dream. We live in an age when a majority of the population feels disgusted by our political, economic, and environmental systems. I’ve written this story to put the power in the hands of the underdogs. It’s a story where geeky teenagers get to fight off an army of AI bots with pulse rifles, laser swords, and rocket launchers. This book is for anyone who’s dreamt of being Duke Nukem, Lara Croft, or Serious Sam.
By Jay Banksman
I apologize in advance. The assignment was to turn in a twelve page essay. I’ve greatly exceeded the assignment.
I’ve tried not to be long-winded. The problem is that, while the events of this essay really happened, they’re also unbelievable. And thoughI’ve exceeded the assignment’s length, I’ve done so in service of the truth. Hopefully that’s worthsome extra points. But if I do wind up with an “F", I won’t blame you. Had I not lived throughthis ordeal, I wouldn’t believe it myself.
I do have one advantage: You know who I am. No doubt the moment you saw my name on this page, you realized what this essay was about. You probably have heard some of what I’m going to sayrepeated ad nauseum in news cycle, soundbites, and across scientific journals. I don’t think I’m being immodest saying that this story was THE story last year, and is known to the entire country, if not the world. So I have the benefit of your familiarity.
But you don’t know the whole story. If you’re anxious to read about my summer vacation and hear my own take on thisnowfamiliar narrative, jump to page two hundred twelve. But spoiler alert: Do that, and you’ll miss the good bits. The most incredible part of this story is not How I Spent My Summer Vacation. It’s the weeks leading up to graduation. It’s the final days of my senior year. The events that lead to what some have called The Most Pivotal Moment In Human History.
Those events, I believe, warrant an extra two hundred fifty pages beyond this assignment’s scope. Those events are the real story, and I promise to relay them faithfully.
I also promise to stop saying“events.”
Humble much? Yes, this chapter is about me, but it’s not ABOUT me, in a broad, egotistical sense. And really, it’s less a “chapter”, and more an extension of the prologue. Specifically, this is where I grovel on my knees to convince you I’m not full of it.
See, I’m about to lay down some heavy stuff. If you don’t trust me, you won’t make it through this essay. So I mean to gain your trust using the only method I know how: The Mock Trial method. In Mock Trial we called this “establishing one’s ethos, or moral character.” If English class taught me anything, it’s that there are two kinds of narrators: Reliable and unreliable. This is where I make the case that I’m one of the good guys and not some shifty, postmodern swindler.
I happen to have my college application handy, so let me introduce the facts supporting my case: