"Good Evening brothers and sisters of The Planetary Federation. I'm Metallogie Q. Sunstrike, and I have another tragic story to report on the consequences of Internet game addiction. Yes, despite medical advances, it's still the disease that won't go away.
Two lives were shattered, however, perhaps beyond recovery. These two men have only today learned that they have lost track of over 20 years of their lives while they were busy getting their screen time.
"Yes, today we'll hear from these two brothers, victims of one of the most addictive games of the earlier years of this millenium, World of Warcraft, or WoW, or Warcrack as it was called back in the day.
"The drama is playing out now, as family members try to comfort the addicts as they wait to be picked up by FlashSpeed Cyberaddict Recovery Services to be taken in for detox and rehab treatment.
"The men are Zoroaster and Zola Chand, of the 3500 block of South Michael Jackson Lane. They were found wandering half-naked, confused and crying this morning by a neighbor, a Henry Higginsworth. Mr. Higginsworth found them going from house to house looking for a spare computer to use after both of theirs died around the same time late last night. They were getting hysterical and wailing because they could not play their game.
"Internet game addiction afflicts approximately 40 percent of those who play, the same percentage as before we had the Dopamine inhibitors that stop addiction if taken properly.
"Their fathers losing 20 years in virtual reality must come as quite a shock to their grown children. Sabine, the eldest daughter of Zola, told me all the kids were taking it hard despite having disowned the addicted fathers years ago.
"Together the men have five children. Zola's are Sabine 20, Rickie-Q 19, and Ernie-Zee 17. Zoroaster has a son Cliff 19, and a daughter, Zee-Zum, 17."
"These poor kids." Metallogie shook her extensions mournfully. "Certainly they must be embarrassed today. We feel deeply for them."
"Oh here comes Sabine and one of the other ones heading towards us now.
"Sabine, and who is this with you? Okay, Cliff. What has this nightmare has been like for you kids?"
"My childhood was worse than for someone whose Dad had the decency to leave if he wasn't going to show up and be there for the family. We were stuck with this grinning idiot on the couch who never bathed and stank up the house. I couldn't stand to see that immobile body that never went anywhere--like to a job to earn some money. No, he left supporting us entirely to my mother. He couldn't be expected to miss his screen time."
"And how about you, darlin'" Metallogie turned to Sabine.
"Same thing. I don't think my father ever knew how old I was at any time, or what grade I was in, if I was dating, or if I got in trouble... My mother raised us by herself. She didn't even try to discuss us with him, because he had no interest in anything but WoW. And that hurt...
"You poor kids..." Metallogie cut her off. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the brothers, shuffling in the way psychotic people do,but definitely headed her way.
"The brothers have finally made it over here to say a few words now. Let's begin with you Zola. I understand you had quite a shock today."
"Yes, I was shocked that my sonofabitchin' computer quit on me and I couldn't get my screen time. I was going to make the next level today for sure too."
"Wasn't there something else that happened today? Something about your wife Jonesie?"
"Oh yeah, she left me a note saying she was leaving me. I was all crying and upset but then one of my kids, maybe it was the girl, Sabine, pointed out that the letter was dated about six years back, so why was I acting like it happened today?
"Today I was going to get to the next level, and then this went and happened. I'll never buy another computer from Macro-Apple I'll tell you. Garbage! Crap! Just got the thing not long ago too. The warranty better still be good.
"Besides, as far as Jonesie goes, she told me a long time ago that it was over when I told her I didn't want to be bothered with my bedroom husbandly duties. I couldn't focus on anything but WoW, and it just made me cranky to have to be away from the game that long. I don't know why it took her so long to leave. Listen, are they just jackin' me around or is it really 2020?"
"No, Zola it really is 2020. You've been in virtual reality since the early part of this millenium."
"I'll be damned. The time flew by."
"Addiction is a thief of everything a person has, and we must bear that in mind," Metallogie intoned ponderously looking into the camera.
"The two emergency workers are here with the men now. I'm going to see if we can get them to say a few words about their evaluation of the brothers.
"Obviously, both Zola and Zoroaster have not been taking care of themselves physically while living in their virtual world. They are emaciated, suffering from malnutrition I don't doubt, have untreated bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, report ongoing acute and chronic migraines, and Zola says that a doctor once told him he had a deep vein thrombosis from sitting so much. The rest of their medical problems will be determined by physicians at the recovery center.
"I have seen cases where people have lost time before due to Internet game addiction, but never quite as much as 20 years. It will be one tough road back for these two guys, I'm afraid."
"Thank you. And thank you all for watching and remember this story if you are ever tempted to play Internet video games. That's it for tonight. Peace and higher Consciousness, I'm Metallogie Q. Sunstrike."