Hi everyone! This week's chapter was a lot of fun to write. I love to imagine the Cullens' reactions to different technological advances, and I feel like video games especially are something that the Cullens have always kept up with. (I was a kid when the games mentioned below came out, but even as an adult, the graphics and whole premise of Pokemon Snap really impress me, and I feel like it's the sort of game that Esme could really get into, since it isn't about shooting anyone or fighting at all: it's just about taking pictures. :))

Also, the thing I mention below about the pet store selling Pokemon cards was a real thing when I was a child. It was weird, but there it is: for a long time, in my small town, the only place you could get Pokemon cards was at Pet Palace, our pet store/hobby shop, and I feel like the Cullens might have encountered the same thing in some of the small towns where they lived during the nineties. Thanks as always for your reviews, and I'll see you again next week! :)

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer is the author of "Twilight," and has anyone else seen "The Host" yet? I really liked it! (Now I'm just hoping that she's really working on a sequel…)

1998: Technology

Esme's POV

It was a brilliantly sunny evening, though the occasional cloud bank blotted out the sun, and as she had on several sunny days recently, Esme was sitting in the room she shared with Carlisle and playing Pokemon Snap on the N64. Originally, the machine had been Emmett's, but he and Jasper had both moved on to playing Duke Nukem on the computer, so Rosalie had given it to Esme, who enjoyed playing it while Carlisle was at work and the kids were at school. That day, Carlisle had gone to work before sunrise, but everyone else was at home, staying out of the sun and mostly keeping to themselves. As she played through the mountain level again (it was tricky, getting certain Pokemon to appear), Esme could hear Edward downstairs at his piano; otherwise, the house was quiet. Alice, Jasper, Emmett, and Rosalie were all in their rooms with their respective spouses, and Esme was grateful, as she often was, that her skills at soundproofing houses had improved so much over the years.

Esme knew that Carlisle would be home soon, so she briefly switched to playing the GameBoy Alice had given her; her fondness for video games in general (but Pokemon games specifically) had not gone unnoticed by her children, and when they'd finished with their own games and gaming consoles, lately they'd been giving them to her. Currently, Esme was working to reestablish her business as an artist. She'd run a successful business, selling paintings and sculptures for nearly twenty-five years under a pseudonym, but Alice had foreseen that the enigmatic nature of Esme's artist identity was starting to attract attention, so to avoid having people come looking for her, Esme had "killed off" her pseudonym so to speak. (It was easy to publish an obituary for someone who didn't exist, since there wasn't any family to dispute the claim that the fictional person was really dead.)

Now, Esme was trying out some new styles of painting and spending most of her time on her antiques business, but when she had a little free time, she enjoyed the Pokemon games she'd been given. They were a great deal less violent than many video games she'd played, and though the acquisitive nature of the game's premise seemed rather mercenary (inventing so many Pokemon to catch was clearly a concept designed to sell as much Pokemon merchandise as possible), Esme liked the structure of the game, the strategy it required, and she enjoyed the idea of so many strange little creatures working together as a team.

"You know, I'd be happy to start collecting the trading cards if you want to learn the Pokemon card game," Carlisle said from the doorway—clearly, he'd heard the familiar music of Pokemon Snap as he'd moved up the stairs. "I work with a woman who's learning so she can play with her son and daughter; apparently, they sell the cards at the pet store now."

Esme paused the game and raised her eyebrows. "Why exactly does the pet store sell Pokemon cards?"

"Apparently, it's a hobby shop as well as a pet store," Carlisle said, sitting down on the bed beside her and kissing her briefly. "You can keep playing, if you'd like. It's fun to watch you concentrate on something like this."

Esme smiled as she un-paused the game. "If I'd known beforehand how much time I was going to devote to capturing and training monsters in a video game, I'm not sure I ever would have picked up one of these machines."

Carlisle laughed. "It's amazing how much the graphics of these games have improved in just a few years. This game looks a lot better than anything Emmett used to bring home for his old Atari."

"The graphics are better, and the games are more complex too," Esme agreed. "This one is actually pretty simple though. I've already beaten the game, but I reset it this morning so I could play again. Isn't that silly?"

Carlisle grinned. "Not if it's something you enjoy."

Esme rolled her eyes. "You say that, but I know you think it's a little bit silly, and so do I. After all, this is a game designed for children. Still, there's something so sweet and engaging about it. Watch this."

Esme finished the mountain level, then selected the river level. "See, if I play the flute here, the Vileplume does a different dance for each song you play. Snorlax on the beach level does the same thing."

Carlisle laughed. "I have to admit, that is rather fascinating. It's amazing how much detail they put into these games now. When you're finished playing, I might have to give it a try."

"I think you'll like it," Esme said, smiling fondly as Pikachu finally appeared. "It's really fun, discovering all the little clues and different situations you can trigger by doing certain things. When I see art this good, I have half a mind to take a computer aided design class the next time I'm in college."

"When I compare this to Pong, it's clear that video games really have become an art form," Carlisle said with a chuckle, putting his arm around her, and Esme smiled, leaning against him as she played. "I'd love to play a video game that you designed one day."

"Seeing how much technology like this has improved so much in so few years, I have to wonder how long video games are going to be used for entertainment purposes only," Esme said. "I mean, why not design a game that could be used to simulate surgery? Of course, medical students would still have to use real cadavers too, but practicing on a digital body certainly couldn't hurt. And aren't there already games designed to help prepare armed service members for jobs in the military and the air force?"

"I have heard of simulations like that," Carlisle said thoughtfully. "But maybe you can still be the person who designs a surgery simulation game."

Esme made a face. "I think I'm a bit too squeamish for that," she said, and it was true, in spite of her being someone who regularly tore animals apart with her teeth and drank their blood.

Carlisle chuckled, but then he considered the TV screen for a few moments. "It's certainly intriguing to imagine the biology of these creatures. Vampire biology is certainly strange, but imagine what the inside of a creature that breathes fire would look like."

Esme laughed. "I wonder about ice and water Pokemon too; how can they just produce huge quantities of water in various forms? And how can electric Pokemon control lightening without being electrocuted themselves?"

"It's a confusing mythology, but an entertaining one," Carlisle said. "It would be nice if humans could live with the animals on our planet half as peacefully as the people in these games seem to live with Pokemon."

"True," Esme said. "I suppose these games are rather utopian in that sense; in the real world, humans can barely get along with other humans. But in this world, humans of all races seem to cooperate just fine with hundreds of different species."

"I thought there were only one hundred and fifty of these things," Carlisle said.

Esme grinned. "There's another game coming out," she said, and Carlisle chuckled.

"Of course there is. I guess I have some catching up to do."

"You could stay home and play video games while I work tomorrow," Esme suggested. "I have to drive to Empire to look at a cabinet one of my contacts picked up at an estate sale. Remember the movie "For a Few Dollars More"? Apparently, this cabinet looks a lot like the one in that movie, so it could be a nice addition to someone's collection, after I clean it up a bit."

Carlisle smiled and kissed her on the cheek, and Esme decided that she'd had enough of video games for one day. "I suppose I could use a day off," he said. "Of course, can we do more than just play video games together?"

Esme smiled as she saved her game, then turned off the TV before pushing Carlisle down onto their bed. "Of course we can."


And now, just because I had fun thinking about this:

The Cullens' Favorite Pokemon (from the original Red/Blue/Yellow GameBoy games)

Carlisle: Chancey (because let's face it: if anyone can make Chancey look cool, it's Carlisle. Plus, they're associated with healing. :))

Esme: Eevee (because they're a normal Pokemon with the ability to transform, plus their general cuteness.)

Edward: Mewtwo (because of Mewtwo's incredible psychic power, plus he's one-of-a-kind.)

Rosalie: Ninetails (pretty, but dangerous.)

Emmett: Machamp (super strong—Emmett could arm wrestle his Machamp. :))

Jasper: Charizard (because of their toughness and how cool they look; plus, there was a time in his life when Jasper probably would have loved to have a fire breathing dragon on his side. :))

Alice: Mew (another one-of-a-kind Pokemon, but cute as well as super powerful.)