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Name: Stephanie (Steph)
Birthday: Oct. 16, 1989

Retail assistant manager by day.
Internet-suave superhero by night.
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Ten years ago, Nintendo released a little purple box into the gaming market. The charming playfulness was more than alluring to twelve-year old me. For over a year, Nintendo tempted and teased me with whimsical commercials. Each sixty-second video was a glimpse into a magical gateway that the GameCube seemed to offer- promising me a peaceful town full of sweet animals to live with, helping me conquer fear to save Mario, cleaning up a paradise, investigating a zombie-filled mansion... So many games I desperately wanted to play, but they were always out of reach. Always locked away behind glasses cases staring back at me; I am sure I heard Reggie and Miyamoto laugh at me every time I walked passed a GameCube demo kiosk. Their taunts driving spikes into my young gaming heart.

Like many, I grew up in a middle-class family that just "got by". My parents made enough to make a living and support my younger sister and I. We always had a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, and went to a fairly decent school but a disposable income was foreign concept to us despite what our minds wanted to believe. In the innocent eyes of a child, mom and dad always had money. After all, they always paid the bills and bought the groceries, so surely that had money to spend on a toy for their daughter then. They just needed to swipe a card, write a check, or pull out cash from their bottomless wallets though that was never the case. As I learned when I got older, money was a limited source and living expenses were incredibly expensive. Back then, however, I did not understand that. It tore at my little heartstrings knowing that the GameCube I wanted so badly was unobtainable and my chances to get one were up to when my parents had left over money. Like most kids, patience was an quality I had not yet developed. I knew what I wanted it and I did not want to wait with hollow hopes of getting one for my birthday or Christmas that left me with one choice: Buy it myself.

But what could a twelve-year old do...?

My parents did not support the idea of an allowance, leaving me with needing to find an income from an outside source. I tried doing odd ended jobs at my family's local business for money, but the pay was very low. I only spent one day a week doing a few janitorial jobs which gave me about $15. At that rate, it was going to take me about four or five months before I could afford it. A far too slow of a rate for me. I had to find another option...Another way...Then, one day, my opportunity came and all I had to do was sacrifice some of my blood.

I believe it was during my physical for high school when my pediatrician introduced me to a new medical study that was being conducted. Nine years later, I cannot recall all the details, but I remember it had something to do with a new vaccine for the flu for asthmatic 10-14 year olds. The medication had not been released in hospitals year and needed to be tested in the field to observe its effectiveness against competing medications. My parents were informed that it would be harmless and the worst case scenario would be that my body would just react negatively to the drug - meaning I would just get sick and be pulled from the study. For each month I participated in the study, I would be given $100 with a maximum participation time of three months. The gears turned quickly in my head as I realized that if I did this, I could purchase a GameCube. Needless to say, I willing accepted without much hesitation.

The study was not overwhelming. Basically all I had to do was report to the doctor's office once a month for an injection and a follow-up medical exam. It sounded easy enough, especially when a brand new GameCube would be the prize. The first injection hurt; it felt like a wasp sting and was very itchy, but I dealt with it. The welt died down after a few days with the help of a bit of ice. I never really felt ill or got a fever and for three months, I returned to my doctor's office. The physical examination was pretty standard. I had to answer a few short questions for a survey, be looked over physically, and the finally, have my blood drawn.

At the end of each session, I had have a pint of blood drawn to be sent back to the laboratory for farther examination on how the drug was effecting me. That was the hardest part of it all for me. I am one of those weird people who is squeamish but yet, not. I have no problems with gore in movies or video games, but if it's my blood that is being spilt, things change. If I can help it, I do not want to see my own blood outside of my body because it does not belong outside of my veins. (Even now while writing this, I am getting some shivers at the thought. I have no idea why, but it greatly disturbs me. Anyway...) On top of that, I have always been a small girl. I am only 5'1" and barely weight 115lbs, losing a pint of blood had a nauseating effect on me. I grew dizzy and faint which forced me to need to drink a lot of water and lay down before I was allowed to leave the office.

Three months passed and I was handed a check with my name on it. I instantly turned to my mother with a smile on my face. I had done it. I had endured physical pain and sickness for a goddamn GameCube with no regrets. Lucky for me, Toys 'R' Us was running a Christmas special. (This was in November 2002, by the way.) For $200, I was able to get my GameCube bundled with Super Mario Sunshine and I was suppose to get Bomberman Generations. However, they were sold out of the Bomberman copies that they were suppose to ring up with the system. They told me I could pick out a game of equal value in its place, upon which I picked up StarFox Adventures, which was the game I really wanted. (Despite the criticism Adventures received and while it might not be a "true" StarFox game, I still enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun action-adventure game.)

A great sense of satisfaction rushed over me because that was my GameCube. It was not a gift or one just handed to me, it was one I worked for. I gave up my blood for it. For three months, I underwent experimentation risking being injected with nanomachines or the T-Virus...Possibly saved a few lives (though probably, honestly did not) in order to earn the money for a GameCube. One risk that I do not regret...

4 / / Itchy. Tasty.
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