Katy, 17, Virginia
In Katy's favorite video game, Gears of War, you can slice your enemies in half with a chainsaw attached to an assault rifle.
The game puts you in the role of a soldier who needs to save a colony of humans from zombie-like alien invaders. One of its innovations in gore is that the aliens die slowly, lying on the ground bleeding. To prevent them from being saved, you can perform a "curb stomping."
A curb stomp is when you crack their head open on the ground like a coconut.
Nothing makes Katy angrier than when people blame video games for violence in the real world. "I don't have a violent bone in my body," she says. "I brake for butterflies. I'd rather wreck my car than hit a squirrel. I don't even like walking on grass because I might hurt it."
Katy spends hours each day playing Gears of War. She'd love to be the number-one pro gamer in the world, but she says she's not nearly good enough. "If I could just make the top 100, I'll be the happiest person alive."
Katy also works as an unpaid PR person for an elite gaming crew called Empire Arcadia. She travels to gaming conventions and talks to anyone who will listen. She tells them about the crew, which is led by a 29-year-old Emperor from the Bronx.
The Emperor's followers all wear black T-shirt bearing the words Deadly Alliance.
Katy hands out business cards with her MySpace handle - Bunny-X-ablaze - and she's amassed more than 28,000 friends on the site.
I ask about the name and she tells me it's a long story that begins with some friends of her slashing a woman's throat and burning down her house with a toddler inside.
Katy was a freshman and was good friends with a 19-year-old named Rocky. One day, she saw a news report that Rocky and his sister were arrested for murder.
They bound the woman to her bed, cut her throat, and stole her valuables. On the way out, they set fire to the house. Her 3-year-old son suffocated in the blaze.
Everyone in school knew that Katy was friends with the killers, and she quickly became an outcast.
She started hanging out with the gamer guys, because they didn't judge her. "We's hang out in the CAD lab and play Halo," she says. "I like rabbits, so my name was Bunny. The gamer guys call themselves Bunny Killer 1, Bunny Killer 2, and Bunny Killer 3."
The next year, a sketchy new guy at school had a crush on Katy. When he finally got up the nerve to ask her out, she rejected him.
A few weeks later, he walked up to Katy and handed her a present. "I was so excited. I never get presents."
It was a stuffed rabbit with its ear cut off and its throat slit, with fake blood all over it. She cried when she saw it.
A friend of Katy's invited her over after school to comfort her. He told her to bring the bunny.
When she got there, he set it on fire. They watched it burn on the lawn for a while and then put the remains in a plastic bag.
The next day, they threw the charred bunny at the guy in the cafeteria and told him never to do anything like that again.
Now more than 28,000 gamers around the world know Katy as Bunny-X-ablaze.
The story above is from Michael Franzini's One Hundred Young Americans, reprinted on Neatorama with permission.
Check out our review of the One Hundred Young Americans book and website - or get your copy here.