It was like passing through a tunnel and into the big city for the first time. I pressed the button, open my avatar’s eyes, and wham, there I was in Vingaard like I had never before seen it. Literally.

Everything was so lucid, vivid, and real. Before I was a meadow ripe with flowers and lovely trees. Birds were chirping and insects buzzing. Had I not known any better, I would have sworn I was back in the real world; so detailed and perfect was this virtuality, that when I squashed a butterfly, its body didn’t simply vanish like it had before on my computer terminal, but I could now see that its very body— an assortment of good, blood, and parts— had been lovingly, yet disgustingly, rendered in unfathomable 120K HD.

It was different, that was for sure. Before, I had controlled my character from a top-down position from behind my monitor. Then, it was a 3rd person game. Now, it was first-person, and I knew it would take some getting used to before I became comfortable. I couldn’t worry about that now, however, as I had to find my group. I hadn’t heard from any of them for a while and it felt like eons had passed as I made my character. Chad was likely having a fit.

How would I contact them, though? I didn’t know how any of this worked from this first-person perspective. Jeez. I wished that Sora was here.

Lucky me. Like a charm, Sora appeared seemingly out of thin air.

“Hey!” he called to me enthusiastically. “I see you made it in fine. And found yourself some gaudy equipment.” Sora giggled, motioning to my red and black outfit.

“Huh. Yeah. I thought it looked nice.” I replied.

“No. It does look good but that will put you back” I looked at him quizzically. “Oh. Yeah, that’s right, you have never played Academic Mode before. Ah, where to begin… crap. Too much. We can go over this another time back in the real world or as we quest. Too much to explain right now when there are things to do. The others have already started on their questing and left me to handle you, Mr.Freshie.”

I didn’t know what to say to this. I didn’t want to be a burden but I was new to all of this— Academic Mode, full-immersion virtual reality, college… “Sorry. It’s not like I can help it”. Which wasn’t really true, I thought, as I could have easily paid a visit to the Technology Commons anytime during the first week of classes and got set up with an Academic Vingaard account. I was just, overwhelmed, I supposed. “No worries! I was a first-year just last semester, don’t let things get you down. Maybe you jumped the gun a bit by lobbying to be in a Senior Seminar but if you can do the work, then great! I know the feeling” and he winked at me, causing me to blush for unknown reasons. “BUT, listen, we got to get cracking; lots to do!”

So I followed Sora and let him guide me through this fantastical realm.

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