Are Video Games a “Waste of Time”?

What do you think? Why or why not?

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Filed under Video Games: Reader Q&A

The Transmission of the Tradition

“I’ve done it, Susanne! It was a Herculean effort on my part, but I’ve done it.”

Anton’s tears were the only liquid that had cleaned his desk for months. While he worked on this project, some of his fingers were bloodied because, for hours on he end, he had scraped them against shiny, sharp steel microprocessors. Sweat poured down his face as if he had a fever or as if he was delirious with excitement.

The wall clock seemed  to tick tock forever before Susanne raised an eyebrow. Then one of her eyes locked on to Anton. The second was still glued to her newspaper. Anton never understood how she could do that, especially with all the excitement in the room.

“What’s going on?”, she asked after shrugging her shoulders.

Anton held his baby in his hands and stared at it lovingly.

“I didn’t tell you why this project took so long. Did I?”

Suzanne sat there stone-faced, like a statue from Easter Island. She opened her mouth to speak, but Anton interrupted.

“Well, since you asked, it was a real challenge because the technology didn’t exist, so I had to invent it first. Now I hold here, in my mortal hands, a storage device with every video game ever made on it. Future generations will forever be able to partake in this art.”

“Great,” said Susanne, “How do you get them off there to play?”

“Well, you see, it’s not that simple…” Anton’s forehead started to wrinkle. “You start by…” His eyes became downcast and he bit his lip. “Noooooooooooooooo!”

Anton pulled out a clump of his hair and fell to his knees, sobbing.

Susanne sighed. Then went back to her paper.

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Filed under Video Game Technology

To The Sources Themselves!

The story begins as I steeled myself to enter a cold, concrete archive.  The building itself was a grotesque accident of twisting and turning stuff, but that did not matter. I was there to retrieve the past, to recover sources thought lost and to write you a story. Before I opened the door to the past and entered the building, though, I put a bookmark in my diary and closed it. Then I took a deep breath and walked through the door.

“Greetings!”

An archivist sneaked up beside me, and her smile seemed to melt the icy concrete exterior and interior of the building. I smiled back, but the warm exchange didn’t last long. After I exhaled and rolled up my sleeves, a huge “claw” hovered into view, dangled above my head and then prepared to swoop in for the kill.

I thought I was about to be gored by the “claw” and suddenly recalled my pet fish, Mr. Fishy, from two years ago. I covered my eyes to avoid seeing the gory spectacle unfold. Then, just as quickly as I had spotted it, the “claw” swooped away in a different direction, slicing off the tiny tips of the hairs on my head along the way.  I wiped the sweat from my brow and stopped shaking.

“Whew! That was close! What is that thing anyway?”, I asked.

“It’s the Armed Book Retriever 2000,” said a different archivist who was working behind the information desk. She rolled her eyes as she replied to my question.

I watched as the “claw” backed up and beeped, like a forklift moving in reverse, then moved forward, lurched to the right, then beeped and move backwards again. It — at last — grabbed a book from the shelf only to drop it. The process of picking up the book began again.

“Couldn’t I just walk up to that stack and collect the book myself, and isn’t that machine’s claw grossly oversized to pick up tiny objects?”

“Sir,” the same archivist said, ” the Retriever 2000 is $6.50 an hour. Please stop asking so many questions and let the machine do its job in peace. It wants a safe and respectful workplace too, you know.”

At that moment, the “claw” turned around to face me for a moment and, as if it were raising an eyebrow, it lifted one of its two metal blades.

“N-n-never mind,” I said.

I backed away from the machine, and it carried on in its merry way. I decided I should do the same and carry on with my research.

I opened my diary to the bookmarked page, and landed on a quote I had highlighted, which read: “History is done in the footnotes.” The footnote to this insightful quote, yes there was one,  included a list of sources I had come to collect. I showed my diary to the archivist at the information desk and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, do you know where I can find these items.”

She glanced at my diary before saying, “Video games, huh? No one has seen or played those in a long time. They’re somewhere deep inside this place. Head down the stairs there all the way to the bottom. Keep going ’til you reach the rare technology section.”

“Ok, thanks,” I said. I muttered “I guess” under my breath.

I found myself walking down a rickety wooden staircase that wobbled every time I took a step. The steps also creaked like a squeaky, old door that someone was pushing open with all their might.

Snap!

My third step nearly killed me. My ankle almost twisted because my foot broke through part of the wood and got stuck for a minute. All of me could have fallen through the stairs, but I managed to break free and decided to skip a couple planks of wood.

“I’m okay!”

Crickets chirped. I turned around half expecting someone to come to my aid, but I guess they had stuck their noses in books. I did what little I could: I left a yellow sticky note near the hole in case someone else stumbled upon it.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I waddled past doors covered with cobwebs in search of the sources. The flickering torches on the brick walls did not offer enough light to illuminate my surroundings, and I bumped my head. I could already feel the resulting mountain range with my fingertips when a voice interrupted my self concern. It seemed to come from on high and provide hope in the darkness.

“How can I help you?”, asked a different archivist. I showed her my diary and she added, “Ah, yes, this way please, sir.”

I walked past several rooms as the archivist led me toward the sources. One room was full of crates, stacked to the top of ceiling, marked “Top Secret”.

“Hmmm that’s odd”, I thought to myself, as I raised an eyebrow.

Carrying on, I caught a glimpse of a crypt complete with a badly bandaged mummy sticking out of a sarcophagus. I turned away at first and kept walking. Then I shook my head and said, “Hey, wait a minute, what the hell was that? What exactly is going on here?”

I pointed at the crypt, and the archivist laughed before saying, “Oh, that’s just our Halloween decoration room. Please follow me.”

“Okay, if you say so,” I said.

We moved forward, smiling, without a care in the wide world. Suddenly a school of bats swarmed and flew over our heads.

“Alright,” I said,  “now this is getting weird. I mean…”

“Never mind, sir,” said the archivist, “we’re here.”

We entered a cavernous room with a large brown treasure chest in the center of it. I opened it and the glittering objects inside forced me to cover my eyes. I was so shocked at the discovery that I fell backwards and only caught myself by landing on my palms. When I stumbled back to my feet, I rubbed the dust off my palms and noticed a bunch of video games had tumbled out of the chest. I saw Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Metroid.

The archivist said, “No one has played these games for years. I’m not sure the technology even exists to run them. Sir, I don’t envy the difficult work you have ahead of you, playing all these games. There’s so many.”

“I don’t care; I’ll find a way to make it work. It may not be a pretty job, but it’s my task to make the past alive. By golly, if I have to, I’ll stay up all week to play these games. Nothing can stop me.”

“What about the writing?”, she asked.

“Oh yeah,” I said, “that too.”

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Filed under Silly Video Game Inspired Fiction

Hell Is No Other People

Maybe video games don’t need other people, but I do. I also need love, water and sunshine, near a nice windowsill, to grow. Oh and some good food too. How about you?

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Filed under Video Game Misc.

Beware The Cereal Killer!

He is a menace stalking your neighborhood, looking for his next target. He is the cereal killer, and he is coming for your boxes. Watch out because he sneaks passed defenses and break into people’s home on Saturday morning.

He plops himself down on your couch, rips open all of your cereal boxes and puts his feet up on your coffee tables. He likes to play all your video games while munching on Lucky Charms. Do you only have “healthy cereal”? Yes, he devours everything and leaves only a trail of crunchy crumbs, soft marshmallow bits and scratched game discs in his wake before destroying the next house. The cereal killer thinks he gains experience points to level up each time he plays and eats because he has constructed an elaborate, imaginary game world in his head.

I have warned you.

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I Angered the Video Game Gods

I stared out the window as the sky’s tears fell to the ground. These droplets also ran down the pane of glass, and for a second, I thought I was crying, as if I lacked an awareness of my own feelings. I a took a closer look at myself and realized I was crying on the inside; the droplets were tears of boredom (the ugly cousin of tears of joy). My depressing thoughts pushed me to inhale a toxic cloud of cigarette smoke before I butted out in an ash tray and dragged myself to the couch to play video games. What happened next, minus the cigarette part because I do not smoke, is a true story. I swear.

***

I booted up a cart racer and proceeded to zip past fools, leaving them dizzy, dazed and confused. Some sore loser, though, decided to ruin my fun. The sore loser was in last place and could not handle breathing in my exhaust fumes. He decided to thwart my plans for victory. He somehow managed to creep up on me and get very close, and I saw his username was SonofCronus99. “Huh,” I thought, “That’s a weird name. I wonder who that could be.” Before I could think any further, SonofCronus99 zapped my cart with a massive lightning bolt that blinded as it emerged from behind a cloud in the heavens. My cart flipped over and landed with so much force that it flattened on the ground, like a pancake. Frustrated at this race-ending disaster, I ejected the disc and slammed it back in the case because, although I was irate, I still like to keep my games in their proper boxes.

I then turned on a different console and started playing a Smash Bros. game. Things were going well enough: my opponents were not destroying me, but I wasn’t winning every match either. I was about to win a match when a Pikachu, this one named “The Big Z”, electrocuted me with a thunderbolt attack. I went flying off the stage and landed somewhere in oblivion. This sudden defeat caused steam to shoot out my ears, so I dashed outside and into the rain to alleviate my pain. In fact, the water cooled off my hot head.

I was now feeling better until there came a roar from above and a golden lightning bolt hit me faster than I could blink.  Zap! The ground beneath me shook so hard that it seemed like an earthquake was happening, and there was a massive crater beneath my feet.  Although I smelled like burnt toast and looked like it too, I was able to rest on my knees and shake my fist at the sky.

“Hey, that’s not fair! I wasn’t even playing video games that last time.”

Zeus did not care.

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Filed under Silly Video Game Inspired Fiction

If Video Games Had Footnotes

[Loading screen]

Press start to play.¹ ² ³ 4 5 6

[Footnotes appear below.]‏

Notes


1. The publisher of this game assumes no responsibility for any damages, whether physical, financial, psychological or otherwise, when you play this game. By pressing start, you agree to enter a fictional world which may or may not bear resemblance to our own world. Any resemblance is purely coincidental and unintentional. One should not infer that the publisher supports ingesting magical mushrooms just because there are exotic mushrooms in the game world.

2. The first level takes place under a bright, blue sky in the game’s world. Every event that preceded this opening moment is beyond the scope of this game. We hope to subsequently make a prequel explaining the preceding events. However, any such prequel is dependent on receiving the appropriate funding, so please encourage your friends and family to buy and play this game.

3. While Metroid inspired this game, see the Metroid Prime series in particular, we have endeavored to provide both original gameplay and a unique pirate-themed setting.

4. There is a known bug where playable characters lose all the objects they have collected. This occurs when players reach the edge of the map, spin around clockwise and open their inventory. This bug is Andy’s fault, and he is sorry. He spilled piping hot coffee on his lap while programming, jumped into the air while screaming and ended up slamming his keyboard on the way down. The resulting gibberish code sneaked its way into the final game.  We hope to have a patch available one day soon.

5. If you like this game, why not consider visiting our website and subscribing to our newsletter today?

6. Thank you and enjoy the game.

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Filed under Video Game Misc.