Birth of a Dark Gamer

Just imagine a noble, elegant and picturesque life in poverty that you might find nowhere else but in a soap opera. No matter how poor you are, it does not discourage you from showing unconditional love for strangers, and even a piece of bread is there to be shared with a warm smile.

If anyone claimed that such an illusion existed in reality, Lee Hyun would beat him to a pulp, and strike once more to finish him off.

Life was too cruel for the poor. The Labor Welfare Law revised by Parliament made all jobs unavailable to minors. Illegal though it was, Lee Hyun had worked in every kind of trade imaginable.

From the age of 14 he took to sewing stitches in a factory. The salary could only be called meager, but he was able to eat for free.

However, underground with only 2 ventilation fans running, his health extremely deteriorated. Thanks to his damaged lungs, he gained heavy medical bills.

Then it was a job at a gas station and occasionally he even went around pulling a handcart collecting and selling recyclables.

But no matter how hard he had worked, the money left in his pocket was chump change.

As a minor, he was forced to get a job illegally. This fact was used by his employers to mercilessly work him to the bone.

He lived this life of exploitation until 20 years of age. Thanks to it, Lee Hyun knew very well the value of money. However, things would be different now. Finally an adult, and with it came an ID card that would allow him to legally work.

Inserting the ID card in his wallet Lee Hyun mumbled.

“I have to work until my body practically breaks down. I should be able to deal with 3 jobs a day.”

When he was a kid, his parents died, his family now consisted of only his grandma and sister.

“Alright. From now on we’ll be rich.”

Lee Hyun pledged to do so and returned home.

“Did you come just now?”

His grandma was lying down snuggling in a blanket. After falling down the stairs a few days ago, she got a dislocated hip rendering her unable to go to work.

Although taking medicine, with the household struggling she could not go to the hospital to receive proper treatment and thus could only rest at home.

Not receiving treatment, every night she could only groaned painfully.

Whenever Lee Hyun entered the house, he felt his chest suffocating. It was a lifeless home with an aloof little sister and an old grandma. Even if he didn’t know it, it was probably why he disliked coming home even more.

“Hye Yeon?”

“I have no idea. She went out and didn’t return. She might be hanging around with the bad crowd again, not sure.”

Lee Hye Yeon was his little sister. He had not seen her face very often recently.

“It’s going to be okay. What could happen?”

“You are her one and only brother. A brother should protect his little sister.”

“Yes.”

Lee Hyun smiled wryly and went to his room. Even if he was forced into physical labor or driving a taxi, he wanted to send his little sister to college.

For a while now she had been drifting off the rails, but she was bright and intelligent, unlike Lee Hyun. He believed that in college she would meet a good husband and be able to live well. He also wanted to repay his old and ailing grandma for all she sacrificed to raise Lee Hyun and Lee Hye Yeon.

“Right, look for work tomorrow. There will probably be an employment test as well…….”

Muttering, Lee Hyun turned on the computer. The old computer buzzed to life. As soon as it connected to the internet, as routine, he accessed a game. That game was Continent of Magic. A classic game released 20 years ago. An online game that once created a frenzy of gamers in the Republic of Korea.

That game remained at the pinnacle until just 3 years ago. Lee Hyun’s antiquated computer assembled by combining parts from here and there was not capable of handling most games. Nothing but Continent of Magic ran smoothly.

It was the first game he’d ever played, but only during the game could he have a feeling of enjoyment.

Lee Hyun’s playing style was very peculiar. He did not associate with the people around him and instead hunted all day long. After killing monsters and raising his level, he headed to harder hunting grounds. He did not participate in sieges or guild wars at all.

He found pleasure in the game by gradually improving his character’s abilities and upgrading equipment. He once hunted for 200 hours straight without catching a wink of sleep. It wasn’t unusual for him to struggle for a month to raise one level or catch a single monster.

Some might question what kind of fun he was looking for, but for him it was fun watching his character grow stronger and when he was able to defeat monsters he was previously unable to, he was thoroughly delighted.

In a short period of time, Lee Hyun had reached the highest level. He had attained the ultimate state where levels no longer rose.

In the decades of Continent of Magic, it was the first and last record in history. When Lee Hyun looked around back, he found none who could rival his character in supremacy. In hunting grounds where others struggled as a party, he singlehandedly wiped out all the monsters.

After climbing to the highest level, he alone hunted all the ultimate monsters, including Dragons.

Though, for Lee Hyun, he had lost all interest. Nowadays with the technological advances, the ultimate goal of every game was to equip itself with the virtual reality system.

A truly splendid game named Royal Road, referred to as the standard for virtual reality. Beginning with a fully implemented world, the game contained tens of thousands of races and users. Over tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of skills.

You could enjoy adventure as you desire or even go sea fishing with friends for days, as long you don’t encounter whimsical typhoons of course.

The massive scale of freedom was amazing, but best above all was the wondrous game’s system. Royal Road had the reputation of inducing the ultimate fun a human could enjoy in a game.

“Well for me, that’s all just a pie in the sky.”

What could Lee Hyun expect from a computer slowed down by a slightly more complex web page?

Popular as it was, to install the equipment that realized virtual reality would cost over 10,000,000 won. If he had that kind of money, under any circumstances, his grandma’s medical bills, otherwise it would go to his little sister’s college tuition. And now to diligently earn money, the game had to end.

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

Yes / No

Lee Hyun brought the mouse cursor over ‘Yes’. Now, with a single click of the mouse, the treasured character he raised would disappear forever. The moment he flexed his finger, a thought raced through his mind.

‘Can I sell my character for money? Account sale I think.’

Somewhere it seems. A newspaper or something said buying and selling characters was common. And that story meant money. It dawned on Lee Hyun that if he was going to delete his character anyway, it wasn’t a bad idea to sell to others.

Lee Hyun began searching through the internet looking for a character trading site. One search resulted in dozens of sites, and among them he located and entered the one with the largest trading volume.

“So I just post my character here for a price and it’s done?”

Lee Hyun uploaded pictures along with his own character.

Highest level in Continent of Magic with the best equipment coming from Dragons that was worth 30 trillion marks.

He decided to begin the auction with the initial price of 50,000 won. He was afraid no one would bid if he asked for too high a price.

The auction deadline was one day.

Waiting for a long time for big money to come was unlikely. To get a job though he needed a decent suit of clothes so he was in a hurry to get money right away.

Typically there was a range of characters and items to determine the price, but the auction content of other people could only be seen by paying members so Lee Hyun was denied access.

Lee Hyun finished posting and went to sleep. Waking up early the next day, he planned to stop by a nearby employment office.

Not even an hour after Lee Hyun posted, the netizens that occupied the virtual space began heating up the internet.

* * *

Initially, no one believed the auction post. With the last patch of Continent of Magic, they were well aware the levels increased significantly higher.

The maximum level limit was 200.

In the entire server, no one who achieved such a state could be found, possibly because the figure itself was practically impossible for any man alive.

And now, there was an auction post with the character that rose to the highest level for sale.

“Some guy’s playing a prank on us.”
“What sort of moron posted this boring stuff?”
“This has happened so frequently it’s no longer fun.”

Several people commented in this fashion. Passing by some advised no one be fooled while others gave thanks for making them laugh.

From the early 21st century, phishing entries became a trend and because they were duped so often, they thought it was one of such cases again.

“No, never…….”
“Can’t be.”

Netizens tried to ignore the auction post. But their curiosity could not resist and they entered to see the post once again.

Auction posts unconditionally required screenshots of the character to be shown.

Each of the files attached to the posting were opened. The character info was truly outstanding. Various stats hit maximum and equipment items were indeed fantastic.

“Where the hell did he get those weapons?”
“Full set of Red Dragon Armor along with Red Dragon’s Backbone Shield? Wow…….”
“He says they were conferred by the Black God of Valor.”

People admired it quite a bit. Somehow it did not seem like a normal phishing post. To forge such detailed images, a great deal of effort would be needed.

“This guy definitely spent a lot of time on it.”
“The interface is Continent of Magic, but what game did he import the equipment from?”

Among those present at the auction post were current graphics designers. Looking at the base photo, they tried to find a blind spot.

“No matter how well-crafted the picture is, microscopic traces remain. Even if it looks perfect in the eyes of the public, when you apply the latest technology, the fake parts will be revealed.”

The designers magnified the images by a factor 10,000, tracked down the pixels, studied every shade, and even scanned the photo files in 3D trying to prove it was a forgery. But their attempts proved futile. Finally they were forced to acknowledge.

“All these images are real.”
“I’m the chief designer of LK Co. I guarantee this picture hasn’t been altered in anyway.”

Contrary to their expectations, the graphic designers began to confirm the authenticity of the images.

Then real users of Continent of Magic appeared. The moment they saw the images, they shouted in surprise. From the beginning they suspected nothing.

“It’s real. Character named Weed. This user’s damn famous.”
“The equipment is his, but I didn’t know he reached the top level, really impressive.”

Lee Hyun always played alone, intentionally avoiding hunting grounds with lots of people. He never participated in sieges, and minor disputes were usually ignored and passed by. But rumors about him never ceased to stop.

Slaying Dragons and Krakens deemed simply invincible and sweeping through the highest level hunting grounds all single handedly.

Not associating with other people didn’t mean they couldn’t recognize him. Among the remaining users, he was already a legend. Only Lee Hyun was oblivious to the fact that he was a celebrity.

“So the equipment is real?”
“Then, this can only be called jackpot…….”

The initial price for the auction was 50,000 won. Excluding the character value or equipment, just owning it alone according to current prices made the amount was far too low.

People hurriedly began to write down their bids. It went up in a flash from 50,000 to 300,000 won, all the way until 700,000 won. An hour had not passed before it exceeded 1,000,000 won.

The value of selling just one piece of equipment, there was no need to be hesitant about the loss. The bid began to skyrocket.

By this time, many people stopped participating out of desperation because they imagined to some extent the auction’s closing price.

Although the number of players in Continent of Magic decreased over time, after the servers integrated into one and became free of charge, there were still quite a lot of users.

Initially, it was the players of Continent of Magic who drove up the price, and following them were the wealthy office workers who increased the price further.

At one time, when the game was created, Continent of Magic kept the Republic of Korea up all night. The highest level character in that game, owning that antique had such value that you wanted to show it off to others.

The shrewder among the office workers quickly phoned their similarly aged bosses.

“Director-nim, is that you?”

-Why are you calling me at midnight? Do you want to get fired?

“Eh? That, well……. Director-nim, did you play Continent of Magic in the past?”

-Yes, what of it?

“The highest level character in Continent of Magic is up for auction. I thought Director-nim would surely be interested in it…….”

-What! Wi, Weed you mean?

“Yes. So Director-nim knows. Character is level 200. Stats and equipment are filled to the max.

Then followed the explanation.

-Right now. With your own money call for 30,000,000 won right now. I’m going back home right now to check it out, try to get the first place bid.

In the current age, people who hold key positions in companies belonged to a generation that played online games in the middle of their youth. They boosted the price range.

In large portal sites and every game related website, the hot topic talked about was the auction of the highest level in Continent of Magic. Many people started searching and instantly the keyword ranking shot skyward. From this point, the real auction began.

* * *

In the meantime though, Lee Hyun was sound asleep, completely unaware of this.

“Physical Labor… 50,000 won per day. Washing dishes in restaurants, 30,000 won. Supper, ham hocks…….”

He was busy summing up what to do the next day in his dreams.

* * *

With the people’s attention all focused on certain person, the auction price was soaring.

So far, nobody knew who Continent of Magic’s highest level was, but it invoked a desire to possess and show off the eternal character of the once greatest game.

The auction price finally exceeded 100,000,000 won.

At this point, ownership exceeded the market price for the individual holdings and equipment. Some people lamented