Game Market 1983 - Chapter 3





[1] 53,000,000 Won is $53k. Just take off 3 zero’s at the end of Korean Won to convert it to dollars for future reference
[2] Refresher, a billion won = 100k USD
[3] Typically it’s hard to find another job in Korean once you get fired from a company when you’re old



-Shaaaaa~~

I arrived at my house and finished showering with hot water. What happened just before? I thought that I was drunk and hallucinated everything up in my mind, but the Game & Watch that I got from the old man was still laying on the living room table when I came out of the shower.

“That’s weird…”

I sat down on the sofa wearing casual attire, and I picked up the Game & Watch off the table. The big hand was pointing to 1 on the clock. It would be best to sleep quickly, but after this baffling event, I don’t think I can fall asleep so easily.

-Thwack

The lid of the Game & Watch satisfyingly opened. The fact that the current Mintendo 3GS double screen design was copied from this very Game & Watch was well known.

‘This is simple to play but this is definitely fun… Yes, this is what a game should be.’

-Beep. Beep, BeepBeep.

The monotonous beeps rang throughout the living room.

I didn’t even turn on the TV and all my attention was focused on the game. At first, the progression of the game was slow enough to make me yawn. However, as my score passed 100,000, the tempo of the game got faster little by little. The clients delayed the meeting time more and more, and the boss kept leaving his position.

“The boss in this game is just like my boss in real life, hehe.”

As I saw the client on the screen arriving late for the appointment time again, I added,

“This bastard here is the same as Mr. Han, no doubt about it. Setting the meeting times on a whim and always arriving late…”

I can’t lose here. I can’t lose. I moved my fingers as if they were possessed and controlled the character to finish the tasks.

I couldn’t help but gasp in surprise at how the game design made it possible to intuitively learn the game without a tutorial.

-BeepBeepBeep! BeepBeep! Beep! BeepBeepBeep!

The beeping music got increasingly faster along with my hand movements. The score already passed 300,000 and the character was now crazily teleporting left and right like a martial arts master.

‘A little more, almost there…’

-Beeooop… Game Over

In the end, I wasn’t able to pass on the files to the boss while he left his position; I had to end the game with a high score of 528,000.

“Ah, my fingers hurt… What time is it?”

I glanced over at the clock on the wall while I massaged my numb fingers.

“2:30 A.M? I was playing this freaking game for an hour and a half?”

A great game was like a time machine. The feeling that you get when you you’re focused on a game; I gave a bitter smile to the Game & Watch with a startled feeling.

As I looked at the screen, the rankings showed up. My score of 528,000 took the spot of 3rd place. The 2nd place had 800,000; the 1st place had 900,000. How could I even get 1st place on this~

I pressed the confirmation button and passed the current screen. A new status window appeared in the top screen.

[Your score is being converted to your salary. The money that you earned from this game is 5,282,000 Yen~]

“What? Salary…? Ah~ right, this was called The Employee’s Game. The score that you earn gets displayed as your salary. Interesting~”

There was a “Cumulative Salary” count below the score so it seemed like my score gets added onto my “Salary” every time I played.

“I earned 50 million Won in an hour and a half. Haha~”

Although I invested an hour and a half of sleep time to this game, my mood wasn’t bad. I closed the Game & Watch and went to sleep, satisfied that I became rich in the game. The events that occurred in the arcade store still worried me; however, after being focused on the game for so long, I felt mentally drained and fell asleep quickly.


“I’m team leader, Kang Junhyuk, who will be working with you all from now on.”

A greeting to my new department. Customer Support was in a completely different department than the Game Development department, so the employees were somewhat familiar with each other but never had the chance to get close.

I was stuck almost all the time in the Game Development office, so it was a given that I would feel awkward with employees from other departments.

“Don’t worry about me and just do what you were doing. I need some time to adjust too. Haha…”

After I said that, I heard the murmurings of the employees from the small office. I think I heard the word ‘relegated’ being whispered.

Relegated… that was the right term to describe me. From team leader of the Game Development team to an office manager of the Customer Service department; it was no different than a knight becoming a foot soldier.

“8 Americanos please.”

After ordering, I leaned on a chair and looked out the window while waiting for the coffees.

8 cups of coffee costed 36,000 Won ($36). This was more than most of my meals, how much money did I have to spend this month, again?

Even though I lived alone, my situation was such that the money left as soon as it came in in order to pay off my loans, so paying 36,000 Won felt expensive. I might have to starve myself at lunch for a few days just to buy coffee for my new employees.

A little later, I wanted to make sure there were no errors with the payment process and checked my bank account balance through my smartphone. What I saw next made me gasp and swallow a mouthful of air.

“Wh-What is this?”

A balance of 53,000,000 Won? There was no way I would have a balance of over 50 million Won in my bank account! What is this, a new type of scam? I quickly took a look at the transfer history. 2:30 A.M. 52,820,000 Wons transferred from Game & Watch.[1]

I blankly stared at the smartphone screen before rubbing my eyes. The money that came into my account was exactly the same amount as my game score. The only difference was that the Yen in the game was converted to Wons.

“Excuse me~!! Customer. Here are the coffees that you ordered~!!”

The voice of the cashier startled me as I looked toward the counter. As if they had called me several times, there was a hint of annoyance on the cashier’s face.

“Ah, sorry. I was thinking about something else…”

I quickly picked up the coffees and left the coffee shop. However, my thumping heart had yet to calm down, so I sat on a bench to rest.

Calm down… Kang Junhyuk. Something amazing is happening to me, but I have to keep my composure.

A while later, I barely managed to calm myself down and went into the Customer Service department, holding the Coffees.

“Hey guys, coffee’s on me, come get some.”

“Ah, okay… Thank you.”

After passing out the coffees by hand to my future co-workers, it felt as if the awkward atmosphere was slightly lifted.


Lunch time.

I took out the Game & Watch from my backpack while the department employees all left for lunch; I sat alone in the office.

‘So this “Employee’s Game” apparently pays you in real life, huh?’

-Thwack

I opened the lid to the Game & Watch to try this out again.

-Beep Beep Beep

The quiet office rung with the melodious game music, and I started to focus on the game so much that I forgot my hunger. How many minutes have flown by like that?

“Hmm? Team leader, you haven’t had lunch yet?”

I was startled by the employee’s voice and lost the game tempo, so I had to give up on the game.

-Pi-Bee-Beep

GAME OVER. I achieved a score of 37 million after playing for about an hour.

“Ah, Mr. Narae. You came back already? You could have taken more time with your lunch break.”

“I’m fine. I just had to check something really quick…”

I clicked the confirmation button on the Game & Watch and showed an awkward smile. I diverted my eyes to the screen and saw my score, that was in the top 5 leaderboard, being added to my salary in the game. Now~ should I confirm it?

I took out my smartphone and pressed the banking app.

37,453,000 Won transferred by Game & Watch. Sure enough, it was real. A smile crept up to my face without me realizing. How could I resist smiling when I’ve earned 37 million Won in just one hour?

In less than a day, money close to a billion Won came rolling in to my account.[2]


Before leaving work that day, I walked to the CEO’s office while holding a white envelope.

“Come in.”

-Creeaaakkk

As I opened the door and walked in, the CEO, who was picking his nose sitting on a leather chair in a tiny office, stared at me.

“Team leader Kang? What’s the problem?”

“Sir, I’m quitting this company.”

“What?”

“The Customer Service department doesn’t suit me after all. There’s no need to replace me anyways because I got transferred yesterday, right? So please give me the resignation letter right away.”

“Hey, Mr. Kang. Are you making a demonstration right now because you’re dissatisfied with your situation?”

“No, I would have quit yesterday if that was the case. I thought about it carefully for a day; I made the decision because I saw no future for me in this company, anymore.”

“What did you say? Hah~ this really is.”

“This was the company that I’ve worked 15 years for. I wasn’t a big figurehead, but I managed to climb up to my position with my hard work. However, now I can’t stand this any longer.”

“Alright, alright, Mr. Kang. What do you want? Do you want me to move you back to the Game Development department?”

“No. I just want to leave.”

“This gentlemen. You’ve made up your mind about this?”

“Yes, I want to quit.”

“Where are you planning to work after you leave? You see, nobody will welcome you and your games in this field anymore.”[3]

“I know that.”

“A person who knows this very well is acting like this?”

“I want to make a game of my own.”

“What?”

That was the last conversation with the CEO of the company, whom I’ve dedicated the last 15 years of my life to.


“Now~ should I start?”

5 days after quitting my company. I showered with hot water and made my body and mind as relaxed as possible.

I can do this, I can do this.

For a single instant, I took a moment to gather my mind and flex my fingers. They moved gracefully as if they were tapping piano tiles.

Good~ Let’s start.

-Thwack

With a resolute mind, I adjusted my posture and picked up the Game & Watch. I was aiming to beat the No, 1 score in the leaderboard today. My personality was to finish everything I’ve started; I’ve been playing this game non-stop for the past 5 days.

The outcome being, my current balance in the bank was close to 200 billion Won. I managed to get the No. 2 spot last night, but unfortunately, I was 300 points away from 1st place. Due to that, I howled in frustration for quite some time last night.

It was enough to make my downstairs neighbor ring my doorbell. You can feel the mental torture I had to go through, right?

-Phew… I can do this.

With a long sigh, after I pressed the start button to the game that I’ve played for the last 5 days, the “Employee’s Game” started.





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