On more than one occasion, I’ve wondered what my life
would be like as a videogame. Before you scoff at me and tell me I
should spend more time outside, consider this: You probably have,
too. Haven’t you ever been driving around in your car and
wondered if you could pull off a 360-degree flip off that concrete
highway divider a la “Grand Theft Auto” or “Need
for Speed Underground?” I’m sure I’m not the only
one.

Jason Roberts

The problem with this thought process, however, is the fact that
I can’t really find a genre of game that my life would really
fit into. Let’s take a look at these briefly, and I’ll
show you what I mean.

We shall begin with the first-person shooter, the quintessential
action game. When I first started thinking about this whole idea, I
thought that the FPS would be an obvious choice. After all, the
games that I have been playing most recently have fallen into this
genre – games like “Doom 3” and “Unreal
Tournament 2004.” However, in terms of reality, I have a
harder time justifying it.

First of all, I would have to be aggressive and fast, and I am
neither. In fact, I don’t really see running as an activity I
would purposefully choose to partake in at all. If I’m
running, it’s because I’m running away from something
pretty terrible coming the other way, and I’d suggest you run
with me. I prefer to bike, and I’ve never seen a successful
first-person shooter that takes place on a bike.

Secondly, I’m a chicken. I jump out of my seat just
playing “Doom 3” or watching movies like “28 Days
Later” and afterwards have to check and double check the
darkened realm under my bed to make sure there isn’t a zombie
in waiting.

Thirdly, I don’t really come into contact with aliens from
another planet or the undead very often, and that really
establishes the core of these types of games. The closest things I
experience to these types of creatures are the Gideons that hand
out pocket-sized Bibles at the bus stop, and I check for them
lurking under my bed at night, too.

So the first-person shooter is out. My thought process then
tends to drift to the second most likely candidate: the driving
game. I can imagine myself cruising through the virtual streets of
Ann Arbor, driving up over curbs and onto lawns and zipping the
wrong way down one way streets during rush hour. That would be
stellar.

However, I quickly come to the realization that my rusted out
1994 Ford Tempo is not exactly the hot rod that most gamers would
want to have control over in an action-packed driving game. The
vibrations from the misaligned front end and its constant tendency
to pull to the right might put a lot of gamers off. The idea did
cross my mind, though, to combine the driving-game and
simulation-game genre so that you had to keep an eye on the level
of oil in my car, making sure you added to it as the level
continually dropped so the engine didn’t seize, but I quickly
dismissed it for obvious reasons.

So the driving-game genre is out. My next idea: the sports-game
genre. I get excited about this idea initially because it could be
a real moneymaker. EA Sports releases a new version of the same
game every year, and they sell millions and millions of units.
It’s simply genius! The problem becomes the fact that the
only real sport that I play nowadays is golf, and depending on who
you talk to, it may not even be a real sport. It’s kind of on
the same level as freshwater fishing and poker. Plus, if I did have
a golfing game, you’d have to have the option to pick up and
throw your ball if you hit it into some really tall grass and you
would consistently slice your ball to the right when you drive.

After much more thinking, I come to the perfect solution: the
adventure-game genre. Even though I don’t know anybody named
Gandalf or wield any specific magical powers, I thought that this
would be the most acceptable genre. There has to be one condition,
however: It must be one of those old-school text-based adventure
games, kind of like one of those “Choose Your Own
Adventure” books you’d read when you were younger. I
like this kind of entertainment because it forces you to use your
imagination … and it allows me to exaggerate. For
example:

YOU COME UPON A TREE THAT HAS FALLEN IN THE ROAD, BLOCKING YOUR
PATH. YOU DO NOT SEE ANY WAY AROUND IT. WHAT DO YOU DO?

And you could say:

MOVE THE TREE

And the game would say:

WITH YOUR BULGING BICPES AND TREMENDOUS STRENGTH, YOU LIFT THE
TREE OUT OF YOUR WAY, CLEARING YOUR PATH WHILE SAVING THE LIVES OF
SEVEN LITTLE KITTENS TRAPPED UNDER THE FALLEN FOLIAGE IN THE
PROCESS.

It’s such a forgotten genre, and graphics are overrated
anyways. With your own imagination, my measly physique
doesn’t have to show up anywhere in the game world; I leave
everything up to the power of the written word. It would make my
humdrum life much more interesting than it really is.

Look for it to hit retail shelves by next Christmas.

E-mail Jason at
“mailto:jasoner@umich.edu”>jasoner@umich.edu.

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