Friday, May 29, 2009

Solitaire, Anyone?

I haven't played video games in a while, as it was something I kind of grew out of in college. In my freshman year I was still playing Playstation, but with less fervor and interest than I used to have when I was younger. It seemed as though with all of the work piling up and real life things to deal with, I just didn't have the time or patience to sit through playing a level for an hour, only to be killed right before reaching the end and having to start over. "Nuts to this, I'm outta here."

College went on, and though I'd still play team games like "Madden," it was just to entertain my friends. The lowest point came when my friend Travis murdered me in a game, something like 107-35. I mean he was just toying with me. I was never very good at the games, but this was a bloodbath. It was embarrassing, and something I never really lived down. The last two years of college were made interesting with the acquisition of a Sega Genesis, a classic game system that with 16 bits of graphic technology, was easily eclipsed by anything else on the market. Yet there was that classic value to it, and as my friends and I would sit around drinking beer, we'd play in tournaments such classic games as "Mortal Kombat," "Sonic the Hedgehog," and "NBA Jam." These are gems that will never get old.

It's been months and months now since I've played a video game, and lately I find myself craving one badly. Just something to kill the boredom. Though parents often complain that there's something better you could be doing, you can't deny that they have a certain power to keep you busy and off the streets. I suppose it's better to be pretending to be a gang member shooting people in the safety of your own living room or basement, rather than actually doing it. And let's not forget the improved hand-eye coordination. That's just magical.

But I have no access to that kind of life here in Ecuador. Probably for the better, but with all of my free time, especially this week on a half-vacation, it would be a nice change of pace. Just one game of football, or one car chase through a busy city. Something to kill the typical, extravagant-less day. I have no computer games to speak of, save for those standard ones that come with every computer since 1995. You know, Hearts, Pinball, and my personal favorite, Solitaire.

Solitaire is the only game I play anymore, and I think I'm up to averaging around 50 games a day. Take that in for just a second. 50. Do you have any idea how monotonous the game of Solitaire is? It is without surprise, without deviation, and without cheat codes. I play so much Solitaire that I've actually started to see patterns evolving. I can predict within the first 10 seconds of the game whether or not I'll win, and usually I'm right. Clicking rapidly and dragging the cards around the small green box, I'm barely paying attention now as I complete games absentmindedly. This is what it's come to. I'll play 10 games, get sick of it and close the box, and 10 minutes later I've opened it back up.

What I wouldn't do for some 16 bit entertainment. Forget about Xbox or Playstation 3, just give me something that has a controller and some sort of screen movement. If I could just locate one of those old clunky arcade games with a name like "Death Star" or "Alien Blast" it would bring so much joy. The ironic thing about playing a game like Solitaire is that even if you win, you're still a loser. I can't imagine anyone going up to their friend eager and excited, out of breath and panting, "Dude, guess what?! I won Solitaire 10 out of 12 times!" If that did ever happen, hopefully the friend would punch them in the nose, the object being the loser could make a game out of how many better games they could think of while stopping the bleeding. It's probably more interesting and makes better use of the remaining brain cells.

When you play 50 games of Solitaire a day, you don't even stop to watch the cards roll over the screen after you win. That's sooo beginner. At the end of the day, the name of the game says it all. You are alone in your room, in solitary confinement, playing a game that can be shared with no one else. It's the ultimate time killer. Just something to keep you busy for a moment or two. But I suppose things could be worse. I could be playing Minesweeper.

So when the rain clears up long enough for me to stretch my legs and get outside, I can take a deep breath of black smoke coming from the bus down the street, look at the man peeing in the corner, and see another puff of grey coming in from the west. Options are looking limited, and I didn't bring an umbrella. Ah, to hell with it, one more game.

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