Today is like every day.
You walk to the Malvern Hills Technology Commons to begin your homework, always careful to avoid the few people milling about. You will take the elevator down a seemingly endless number of floors to reach The Nest, room-after-room filled with pods, each one connected to the fantastical virtual world of Vingaard. You will enter one of the pods– one that you specifically reserved for the term– and ‘jack in’ to the simulated medieval world.
When you enter the pod, you are calm. The acute nervousness that you once carried has not reared its ugly head for years, not since you were a first-year. Now, you strap your arms and legs in and simply revel at how much of yourself you have left in this pod– for better or worse, your unique odor lingers long after you leave, and when you return to it the next day, the smell greets you like an old friend.
It seems that your avatar in Vingaard is the culmination of all your academic aspirations. The many hours you have spent in this realm seems like another life. Sometimes, you even become confused as to which is real, and which is fake, the hyperreality becoming less Baudrillardian and more proletarian.
You stick it out.
This course, English 497-100, is the last real obstacle to your graduation. It is like the other “Interactive Seminars” you have taken in that they require extensive access to Vingaard, a willingness to probe “Academic Mode” more than the casual player ever will, and a certain disbelief that education could ever be so fun.
Relaxing and allowing the depressants of the machine to ease you into the digital phantasmagoria, you begin to take slow, measured breaths. Minutes later, your sense of self evaporates, and you gradually notice new surroundings.
No longer are you in the pod but rather a province of Vingaard simply called Journey.
Divided into 20 territories, each called “Passus,” Journey is an odd place even for Vingaard. But, this place is the central location for the class and revolves around the primary text that your class is reading, The Vision of Piers Plowman. Your professor is obsessed with the book, so you have no choice but to indulge him and play his game; his “game” being a sort of scavenger hunt that he has disguised the coursework as. Par for the course as far as your university is concerned.
Well, nothing you can do. Love it or hate it, the class is what it is, so you will endure.
Looking to the options now before you, you figure that you should get to work and resume your homework. Your goal is to fill up a notebook you keep for this class, and if you do not fill every page, you will fail the class. Unacceptable.
You dig in and get to it.
—-Please note that this project remains a work in progress—-