The last video game I remember liking was Mario Cart. Kart? I don’t remember if they got cute with that spelling or not. I think I was in high school.
When I was a lot younger I spent hours trying to clear Castlevania. Once I did, I lost interest in playing it again. I can still hear the music in my head. I also remember spending a lot of time with Super Mario Brothers, Dr. Mario, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gauntlet, WORDTRIS and Clue.
Video games were never part of my college experience. None of the guys I knew had enough money to own (or time to play) any kind of gaming system. I remember watching someone play a game on PlayStation once. I think this was when the graphics started getting more sophisticated. Players weren’t just in the foreground anymore. They were on different planes and it kind of freaked me out. Too 3-D for me.
I like simpler games I guess. I can spend a long time playing Tetris and Pac-Man. I feel really fried after that though – especially Tetris. Even the next morning I have lingering hallucinations. I go outside and visions of deconstructed mountains slowly fall and fit together.
However, the other night I was at a friend’s house and somehow got sucked into the Xbox. I wasn’t all that into it at first. I was more interested in the more familiar Guitar Hero going on in the same room. There were a lot of people there, and everyone took turns with the games. I think what we were playing was called Fuzion Frenzy. People kept handing off their controllers to me. I didn’t try very hard to understand how to play the games, and so I didn’t do very well. And I was constantly asking the other players which color I was.
It wasn’t until there were only four of us left at the house that I ended up really getting into the games. The guy who owned the system explained each game like he was talking to a group of four year-olds, but that’s what I needed. I just had an IM conversation with my friend Rhett who told me Fuzion Frenzy exists so girls can have something to play while all the guys play Halo, which, I’m not ashamed to admit, does not offend me in the least. (Somehow, amidst all the madness, I have maintained a safe distance from Halo. I’m not against playing it, I’m just not intrigued by it.)
So anyway, I got the hang of it and I started winning a lot. I do best at Sumo, the one with the tanks, and then the one where you try not to run into each other’s laser tails and the one where you wrap your laser around the little people and the token thingies. (Before you laugh at my ignorance, please remember at no point have I ever claimed to know anything about video games and what is current). I didn’t think I would, but I eventually got the hang of “Twisted System” and started winning that one. The one where you’re racing tanks is probably the most frustrating one because while most of the other games move really fast, my blasted tank would only go so fast and although I know it wouldn’t make any difference, I would push harder on the little joystick (or whatever) thinking that would make it go faster. But it didn’t. And my thumb is still recovering.
There was this one game called Centrifugal Farce that I really wasn’t good at. But at one point in the night my friend Jane and I tried to break down the word “centrifugal” and figure out what it really means and what that has to do with the game. While we really thought we were getting down to something, our friend John silently mocked our intellectualizing.
Before I knew it, it was well past midnight and I couldn’t believe I had been playing video games that long.
The first time I ever met my friend Rhett was my first night at the Gateway. It was about 2:30 AM and there was a fire alarm (not uncommon at the Gateway). So everyone was evacuated outside. While most of the people looked semi-conscious and half dressed, Rhett (and was it Clint?) were still in their day clothes like they haven’t been asleep at all. And they hadn’t. They had been up playing Halo for hours. That blew my mind. And then I got to know them better and it stopped surprising me.
But now I totally understand how addicting those games can be. It’s easy to play them over and over again and not realize how long you’ve been doing it. I mean, when I watch movies or television that late at night, I can’t help but get sleepy, but it wasn’t until I consciously decided it was late and time for me to go to bed that I began to fade.
I’m not saying I’m going to go out and buy an Xbox. I’m just admitting, I never thought I would really enjoy it, but yes. It’s fun.