Monday, February 21, 2011

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, B, A, Start...

I love school-related holidays. A three day weekend is a virtual guarantee that my ex-wife will let me have my kids, regardless of whether or not it is my weekend. There's just something uber tantalizing about having a Monday free of children, I guess. I don't judge. I love having them around, but I'm not that much of a jaded prick that I don't remember what it was like having children up-your-ass 24/7. We'll call it a win-win situation, in which she gets a break to enjoy all the amenities that Hell has to offer, and I get to spend bonus time with my kids.

Was it the best day ever? No. If you expected more, you've probably never been the parent that only gets their kids every other weekend, and has to figure out how to fit them back into the life they've been struggling to reestablish. It was just another day, only with kids. It had highs, it had lows, and everything in-between. It was a day.

The end of the day was awesome, though. My oldest son busted out one of my plug-in-play retro atari games (I'm linking that for those of you too young to remember 8-bit video games), and between the four of us, we took turns at Pac-man, Dig Dug, Bosconians, and a few other old school video games.

"This thing cheats!"

Damn right it does. I didn't even question.

I remember announcing the same thing in our living room as a child around the same age. My father was always quick to retort: "Aw, did you lose? You want your quarter back?", as my brother and I played game after game of atari. In retrospect, I shouldn't have been pissed at him...I should have taken his damn quarter. I'd be rich.

I'm not much of a gamer. We've got an X-box that collects dust unless the kids are around. I think I lost interest in video games after the fall of the Sega Genesis. (It briefly resurged when Play Station began updating the Final Fantasy games, but quickly waned as I had already lost my virginity) This whole Call of Duty and Rockband thing is lost on me.

But, I know this much; video games cheat. They cheat like hell. They cheat like Tom Arnold. They're as fixed as professional boxing. You can only win a video game if you find the right codes, and cheat back.

Hell, tonight I found myself screaming "Bullshit!" as a random asteroid took out my intergalactic cruiser that was on the verge of wiping out the last Mothership standing between me and level 8 of Bosconians. Yet, when my children bitch and whine about video games, I can't help but channel my father and retort; "It's a game. It's supposed to be fun. If it isn't fun, shut it off and do something else!"

To quote Val Kilmer quoting Doc Holiday, "My hypocrisy knows no bounds."

If you're waiting around for my opinion on whether or not video games teach children violence, let me sum that shit up for you in a nutshell: I played a lot of Frogger as a kid. It never once inspired me to run into traffic. Although, it did leave me for a hatred of frogs to the level that I hoped Kermit contracted some incurable STD from Miss Piggy and died a slow, painful, and degrading death. The end.

Like most parents, I watch as video games advance faster than I can keep track, suffer the blow to my wallet as the system I bought last week is already obsolete, and pray my children will remember that there is a great outdoors. And, like most parents, you can find me on the odd night, indulging my inner child and creaming the shit out of bad guys as my kids lie sleeping in their beds.

"Oh my God. These games are so old! I've never had to worry about points to earn an extra guy. These days, you can just find them, Dad."

Listen...its all about the extra guy. I knew the secret code on Contra to start with 99 lives, I knew that every 25,000 points on any given atari game would give me an a bonus life, I'm not even above chasing down a funky 'shroom to score a 1UP.

And maybe this is where video games and I parted company...

What the fuck is the point in earning a score if it doesn't generate an extra life?

I just heard someone say 'bragging rights.' Was it you, sir? Yes, you... the guy that has clearly fucked his own fist more often than he has accidentally brushed up against a boob in an elevator?

Here is where we differ. My idea of bragging rights? My girlfriend firmly believes a woman's duty is to keep her man happy. And she's good at it. BRAG. So, while you're busy trying to be clever and decide which 3 initials you can use to leave a sardonic middle finger to the other guys on your online video game group, I'm busy hoping I won't wake up walking like John Wayne.

Not that I hate. I spent hours upon hours, and spent more quarters than Vin Diesel spent wasted hours on acting classes, in the arcade as a pre-teen. Games like Altered Beast owned me.

Yet, I gotta tell you guys: chics don't dig a guy that stands in line for 3 days to get the latest version of Madden, so that he can ignore her needs for the next few months as he attempts to degrade his buddies as the world's greatest armchair quarterback. Odds are, if you're that guy; your girlfriend is fucking your closest friend that doesn't game.

And, heads up: Just because you kick ass at Rockband... Well, hate to be the one to tell you, but... it doesn't make you a rockstar. In fact, it kind of makes you everything that a rockstar probably hates.

Video games haven't been good since a giant monkey threw barrels at an italian plumber. The graphics may get better, but I doubt Call of Duty is as challenging as keeping Space Invaders from landing on Earth after round 5. All Wii did was capatilize on the movements we were already making as we played Tetris, and shouted: "This fucking thing cheats!"

Tonight, I leave it up to you to decide if either of those quotes were stupid or intelligent. I find them to be both. Leaning one way or least they were provocative.

Well, provocative to a Trekkie, at least...

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