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Confessions of a video game addict


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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Phil Villarreal

By Phil Villarreal
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 1, 1999
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I don't play video games anymore. This doesn't include, of course, NHL 95, because my roommate Tim has a cockamamie idea that he's better than me in that game, which happens to be the true test of manhood. Of course it's my responsibility to beat him down every now and then to show him who the alpha male of the house is.

And that doesn't include Star Wars Rogue Squadron, either. That's not so much a video game as it is a crucial battle against the evil forces of the Dark Side. It's not my choice to play that game, it's what I am called upon to do.

But aside from those two, I don't play video games at all anymore. When I'm in an arcade, I laugh at Tekken 4 and its ludicrous demand for two of my hard-earned quarters. I giggle when I take a look at the old-fashioned pinball machines and air hockey table. I hardly waste a glance at any of the 58 games in the Mortal Kombat series.

Granted, at one time in my life, I was addicted to video games, their flashing lights and bright beeps, but no more. I am proud to announce that I am a recovered Nintendo-aholic.

Even so, I do fall off the wagon occasionally.

Whenever I walk past a Tetris or Pac-Man machine, my knees weaken. My hands start to shake as they unconsciously drift toward my pockets and search for an extra quarter.

Before I even realize it, I'm smacked up against one of those machines, glued to a video console that was made in the 1980s.

Why I'm addicted to those games is beyond my understanding. First off, both are so ancient and primitive that my parents have actually played them. Secondly, neither game has a particular long-run goal; there's nothing to save and nothing to kill. Well, I guess you can "kill" the ghosts in Pac-Man, but it doesn't do much good. Their eyes float into the regeneration box in the center of the screen and they're allowed to come back to torment you again.

But in Tetris, there's no killing whatsoever. Besides that of your brain cells and nerves. It's all about dealing with the crap that life throws in front of you in the form of four-block lines. Sometimes it gives you nice, straight lines to form perfect little structures, sometimes it gives you those crappy, squiggly pieces that are impossible to make good lines with. And, like life, it ends in a complicated mess.

Pac-Man is a game all about frantic paranoia, xenophobic hate, and finally, retribution. You run around in an enclosed labyrinth, grabbing little mini-pellets, all the while getting chased down by ghosts on all sides. The ghosts pursue you and haunt you while you try to get the hell out of there, only to go to another maze where the ghosts chase you even faster.

But in each corner of the maze, there's a power pellet that allows you to turn the tables. For 15 seconds, you get to chase those %$&*s down and show them how it feels to be hunted and killed!

Anyway, no matter how long you play, you'll never, ever pass either game, because they both go on forever. Sure, you get points, but they mean nothing to me because I can't count that high.

I'm like Sisyphus of Greek mythology, pushing the stone up the hill only to have it fall again. There's one key difference between us, though. Sisyphus never had to pay a quarter for each push.

And on top of all that, the games aren't even particularly fun.

But other than those games, I'm clean.

Except for Super Mario Kart.

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