My ‘Roids’ are killing me

No anal dysfunctionalities here just a journal entry from a few months ago.
Put away the Preparation H…


Many years ago there was a video game called “Asteroids”. We used to call it “Rocks”. It was almost as simple as the archaic Pong game that graced nightclubs and bowling alleys across the nation. Basically, Asteroids was a game in which a small triangular spaceship (not entirely unlike the logo on Captain Kirk’s shirt on Star Trek) could be manipulated, turned, and fired into an asteroid
“Field of Doom” that perpetually leaked huge boulders from all sides of the dark screen. If you hit the asteroid, it would shatter into a gazillion pieces and God help you if you got hit by the expanse of floating shrapnel. If you got hit; you were toast and basically DOA. One life gonzo, time for a big dirt nap. The further you got into the game, the more obstacles you encountered. Occasionally, these little flying saucers, driven by aliens on psilocybin, would fly out of nowhere—AND at the most inopportune moment. They were to be avoided at all costs. I still hate those little bastards for what they did to me, psychologically anyway. As juvenile as the game was we would play it for hours on end, usually in nightclubs where we downed copious Black Russians and Cape Codder’s, libations to soothe our blistered and sometimes bloody fingers. I look at the simplicity of Asteroids compared to the games of today: Tom Clancy’s Rogue Six, Riven, Doom and on and on and on…
There’s really no comparison in complexity of programming and the stunning graphics and sound. You just need a PH.d to play them; read the 250 page manual and play the game for a minimum of 5 years before you can derive any satisfaction from them whatsoever. Yep, I am getting older.
The bottom line with video games is that:
#1) We hate to be terminated. Anywhere, anytime and for any reason
#2) We love to blow things up, kill things and have an AK-47 assault rifle at our disposal 24/7
Sometimes, it’s a simple fact of life—the game is over. Fini.
I think of all the quarters I pumped into machines like Asteroids or Space Invaders and sadly admit that I could have purchased a very small third world country by now.
But, hey, back then you had camaraderie, laughs, excitement for such a small price and it was always us against them; we pulled for each other even if we did ultimately get blown to smithereens in the end.
The one feature I loved the most on Asteroids was this thingy called “Hyperspace”. This was the definitive panic button. When your back was to the wall and you had nowhere else to go you hit this button. Your little spaceship would disappear, taking you out of harm’s way before relocating your ship somewhere else on the screen. Now and then it happened that Hyperspace would reposition you in a spot worse than where you just came from; you would then expire and go, “Ughh”. But sometimes
Hyperspace could award you an extra 20 minutes of playing time, another chance, another life, and total reincarnation.
It’s been 20 years since I played Asteroids and there have been times when I wished my life had a Hyperspace button. With a name like Murphy, I’d relocate somewhere on the Massachusetts Turnpike around midnight on a Saturday, most likely in front of an 18-wheeler going 80MPH, buck-naked and holding a silly rubber duck with a snorkel attached to the top of my head. Oh, my, God, I can just imagine the obituary. People would say, If only he’d hit his hyperspace button again, the stupid bastard.
I know Gary Larson would have gotten a comic strip out of it…

© michaelm 2005


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