I have to start off by saying that this isn't a story. This is a warning first and foremost. Whether you believe me or not just know that what I say is true and know you have been warned. Now I guess to make you understand what I’m talking about and what I’m warning you about I have to start at the beginning. I have been an avid gamer for years but there has always been a series I never really touched. “Phantasy Star” Not that I thought it was a bad game series, I just never had the money for it, and when I had money for games I stayed to the games I knew were safe. As the years have passed, and I discovered ROMs and emulators, I have been back tracking and playing many classic titles from my youth.

I was downloading some ROMs of ROM hustler to play some games I never had. One of the games I came across was “Phantasy Star 2”. I have heard so many infamous stories about this game though the years. Terrible story, horrible graphics (for the time), and just plain terrible game play. Well, with such in mind, I decided to create some stories of my own. I downloaded the ROM and began to play it. I assume it started off normally. The story was bland and typical for an rpg, and contrary to what I had been told, I thought the graphics were ok for a genesis title. I played though a good portion of the game with nothing remarkable or memorable happening with the game or story.

As I came in to some generic town in the game I noticed something odd on some of the character sprites. Certain character sprites’ eyes were pixelated… Pixelated is the wrong word. Their eyes were static, like an old TV when it loses signal. I figured that it was nothing more than an odd graphical glitch from the rom or emulator as happens at times and kept playing. As I progressed through the game more and more sprites had that graphical glitch. Certain character sprites when I would speak to them would only state, “We are watching…”

I began to enjoy the game more thinking this was a cool story point. I reached a point where I had to talk to a certain character to progress and when I reached them they had the glitched eyes. I spoke to him to move on but all I got was the, “We are watching…” text each time. After talking to each person in the town, with only the same text being said and the same glitched eyes, I began to think I had skipped something I needed earlier in the game. I researched the game on-line for a walk through. As I read to the point I was in the game I realized that it never mentioned the, “We are watching…” text or the static eyes.

At this point I began to realize the game must be hacked as some joke from a deranged hacker. I went to another ROM site to get a new ROM of the game and started a new game. As soon as the game began it began to glitch terribly causing it to freeze up. After a few moments it came to a new screen saying simply, “We are watching…” I tried to press start, A, B, or C and nothing would respond. I eventually just closed the emulator and decided to play some classic “Super Mario World” for the SNES to ease my anger at the hacked ROM files. When the start screen for the game began there were many graphical errors to it the little Mario that runs across the screen had the same static glitched eyes as from the “Phantasy Star 2” ROM. I closed the emulator realizing my computer must have been compromised by a virus.

I began to get ready to do a factory reset on my computer after the virus scan found nothing. I was going through the folder containing my pictures hoping to save them before I restored my computer. As I looked though my pictures I saw each one had the same static eyes as from the game. At this point I began to think this was more than a simple virus. I had never heard of a virus changing such a specific item on a .jpeg.

I became more and more entranced by what I saw as I scrolled through the pictures. When I reached the last picture I saw something that shocked and still bothers me to this day. The picture was of me sitting at my computer. A picture I didn't take. Somehow my computer had taken of picture of me while this was going on. The eyes had the same static as all the others, except on thing was truly off setting, the text… The simple text captioned to that picture simply stating:

“We are watching…”

My computer was restored and seems to be fine now as of this date. I haven’t put any ROMs on my computer since that day. Nor have I removed the piece of duct tape I placed over the camera on my laptop. I don’t know who was in my computer or what the point of this was, but just knowing that someone could take away my privacy like that. Knowing that there may be more hacked ROM files with the same code in them. I warn you. Beware what you download, for they are watching…