【Takeru】「Ah…Meiya.」
【Meiya】「Hm? Takeru…what is it?」
【Takeru】「What do you mean? I’m here to see how you’re doing.」
【Meiya】「Ah…it is this late already? Forgive me.」
【Takeru】「Meiyaaa…everyone’s worrying about you.」
【Meiya】「Why?」
【Takeru】「They think you’re sick or something…」
【Meiya】「Did I not tell them there was no need to worry?……they are so paranoid……anyway, Takeru, I need to ask you something.」
【Takeru】「Hm? What?」
【Meiya】「Just how many stages are there?」
【Takeru】「Eh? It goes up to eight.」
【Meiya】「I see, so I am far from finished……so, about the quadrupedal robot that attacks your TSF in stage five, the lasers it fires are…」
【Takeru】「……」
【Meiya】「What is it?」
【Takeru】「N-nothing…」

Just as I thought…We only talk about that game.
She was always burning with a sense of duty back in my world.
And it’s partly my fault for telling her it was a training terminal.
…but…
What is it? Why does it feel so wrong?

【Meiya】「So, should I defeat it after going back for more weapons? Or should I attempt to break through it head-on?」

Why…is it because I’m talking to Meiya about a game?
No…that’s not it.

【Meiya】「Takeru, are you listening?」
【Takeru】「Ah? Yeah…it’s best to charge at that guy.」
【Meiya】「I see……in that case…」
【Takeru】「Hey…」
【Meiya】「What?」
【Takeru】「Go hang out in the PX.」
【Meiya】「You are right, I should be able to go in another ten minutes. So, if I am to charge at him…」

……
There’s nothing…particularly unnatural about this, and yet…it still feels totally unnatural.
What’s so strange…

【Meiya】「…would that work?」
【Takeru】「Eh? Ah…yeah, that’ll do it.」
【Meiya】「That did not sound like a serious response.」

…a serious response, huh…
She’s right, normally I’d be talking more than her.

【Takeru】「Anyway…once you’re done in there, go talk to everyone.」
【Meiya】「Yes, tell them they need not worry.」
【Takeru】「Sure…」

……
Meiya…you did show up after that, but…you didn’t show any interest in beanbags, marbles or cat’s cradle…not even Shogi.
You just sat there and looked bored.
So no one even tried to play with you…
What the hell’s going on?
Should I have never given you that Game Guy?
No way. Only an old geezer would say that games make you stop interacting with other people.
Our conversations about them have been perfectly normal. Sure, we needed to exchange information, but that made the discussions quite lively.
You even need to read strategy guides to beat recent games. One person buys it, then we all look at it and talk about it together. There’s even more chat on the internet.
And there were always people talking about how far they’d gotten in a certain game…
──Strangely enough, she still seems to talk to you a lot, even in that state.

【Takeru】「…ah.」

Wait, Meiya has no one to talk to about it.
There’s no one for her to exchange information with. She’s stuck with me.
But I’ve already had my fill of those games, so it doesn’t really feel like I’m participating so much as observing.
On top of that, the Game Guy itself is a secret…she can’t talk to anyone about it.
I see…maybe I did do something wrong.
But…what was it that felt so wrong to me earlier?
That strange feeling I got when talking to Meiya about that game…why did I have to feel that?
……
………
No, that’s not it.

【Takeru】「Crap…I’m totally wrong.」

It’s not that I’ve isolated her or anything.
Video games have always been like that.
What I felt…was proof that I’m getting more and more used to living over here.
To be perfectly honest, beanbags, cat’s cradle and kendama are all boring.
I don’t really care about origami either.
But…those are games that everyone can get together and play as a group.
Some of the conversations and interactions surrounding those games are quite fun.
Unlike the Game Guy.
Even if everyone got together and played their own video games, they’d all still be playing alone.
They do exchange information, but that’s completely different from playing together.
It’d be different if there was some kind of two-player option……
That’s right! Video games are ten times more fun when you can play in groups instead of by yourself.
Isn’t that why I got sucked into Valgernon!!? The multiplayer element is what’s so fun about it. I don’t even play against the CPU for practice anymore!!
That’s…what it is.

That’s right, there was a time when I went to kindergarten and played hide-and-seek and kick the can with all the other kids.
There were those height competitions in pee park too.
Doing that stuff on my own would’ve just been stupid.
But it was so much fun doing that stuff…even after Sumika’s mom yelled at us for doing it at her house, we just moved to the park and kept doing it…
What would you call that…human interaction? Socialization? Communication? That’s at the root of it.
The games in this world are for that purpose…In this world…that’s their founding principle, and their sole application…there’s nothing else…
Even if they had fun reading a strategy guide, that’d be nothing more than communication for the purpose of playing together…

It’s worth doing… precisely because it allows them to meet new friends.

Muv-Luv Unlimited

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