When I was twelve, I begged my parents for a PlayStation, but they got me a Nintendo 64 because it was on sale at BJ’s, where we bought our groceries in bulk. The only game I still remember is GoldenEye 007. It was my first cartridge and I played it until James Bond ran out of lives.

Being James Bond meant sitting on the floor in front of the television screen with a plate of microwaved French fries on the coffee table. I don’t think I played the game as it was intended. I meandered around a gray warehouse with a gun in my hand. Guards in army green uniform would approach me and I’d soon learn to sneak out of their sight, so I could watch them from a safe distance. I wanted to know what they did when they were not preoccupied with shooting me, the perpetual intruder. I wanted to know what they talked about when they gathered in groups of four in the corner of a room. But they did not speak.

By the time I ate the last soggy fry, I’d be hiding in a bathroom stall. It had an institutional feel with pale tile floors and cold light. I could hear a guard enter the room and wished I could hide on top of the toilet, but it seemed the game was designed for me to get caught. The light would flicker, and the guard’s black boots would appear under the stall door. He either opened the stall and shot me, or I had to fire through the door to outsmart him. Whenever I chose to shoot, the bullets punctured three little holes in the door and the guard’s body fell with a thud. There was no blood, and I would approach the body lying flat on the floor to try to get a closer look of his face, but he didn’t have one. It is easier to kill an enemy without a face.

I could never get beyond that bathroom level. I would stick around to examine the scene, to watch the bullet holes miraculously vanish and the body fade away like nothing had happened. The dead guard’s uniform stretched smoothly across his chest; his skin-tight shirt secured with white buttons. Short black hair peeked out from his green side cap. I wondered if he had a wife at home who ironed his clothes. I would watch his body dissolve into the floor and imagine he teleported to his front door. His wife would look up from a bucket of peeled yellow potatoes, drop a knife and rise from a wooden stool by the stove, reaching for him with her small hands.

She would touch his cheek and tousle his hair, and he would become a man. While contemplating his possible life, more guards would follow inside and then it would be Game Over.