Free Lunch Studios

Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon's Blother

March 8, 2006

Games People Play
Hooray! My very first posting from the new (old) laptop. As you can see from that previous photo of feline sleep-imperialists (just try moving Buster out of that chair without bleeding profusely), last week I bought a "WallStreet" G3 PowerBook on eBay for a scant hundred greenbacks. A most excellent transaction, as the owner had lovingly souped up the RAM, processor, harddrive -- and sweetened the deal further with a removable pocket-sized Zip and wireless modem. It'll be lots of fun trying that last out at the local Starbuck's, since the entire world of wi-fi's still a new one on me. Should also mention the computer's roughly equivalent to a Swiss Army knife, sporting more comm ports than I'll probably ever need -- while still being fully compatable with ALL my existing laughably obsolescent software/hardware. Heck, the darned thing even dual-boots between OS 9 and OS X! Go, tech-hoarding nerdery, go!

Speaking of pocket-protecting dorkitude, here's a drawing that was always 'on the tip of my tongue' (so to speak) for decades, but never found an proper avenue until I visited a local GamePlace chain, uneasily stepped around bug-eyed teenagers noisily perforating anime-themed eldritch horrors on XThings and PlayCubes, and encountered one of those all-in-one "classic gaming" joystick units:

Dalek-esque automatons bubbling and shooting lightning bolts! A lone agent, running and leaping back and forth with a curious fluidity (almost as if his component animated sprites had found previous use in a sports-themed video game)! World-saving puzzle clues, inexplicably placed in such unlikely locations as bathtubs, long-necked lamps and something that resembled Robby the Robot's amputated head! Such was "Impossible Mission" (AKA "Jumpman on Steroids").

Great Zeus, I freakin' loved Epyx. When the Free Lunch Studios site was first... uh, 'established,' I proudly featured a downloadable WAV of Elvin's menacing introduction to set the audience-alienating 'mood' (which continues to this very day). Somewhat presumptuous, considering the "content" then was little more than a grey-hued collection of mercifully long-dead links -- but there you have it. And NBC should really be providing that company's programmers a subsidy/stipend, for having grabbed a generation of sports-loathing computer enthusiasts years ago, and turned 'em to future Olympics afficionados.

Watching all the snowy drama couple weeks ago also got me thinking about the team Epyx would've brought to Torino. They were a major competitive force at one time, don'tcha know. See, in "Winter Games" et al, you'd always get to choose what nation your electronic alter-ego gets to perform triple lutzes for (I always picked Canada, not out of any sense of American self-loathing, but because their SID-ified national anthem sounded the best). And among this selection of assorted people's republics and oversocialized banana states was a strange new kingdom called "Epyx." Really. With its own Rodin flag and everything!

Where was it located? (One contemplates a self-contained arcology, rife with high-speed lifts and lots of badly-placed ventilation shafts maximizing the chances of an Epyxian citizen "accidentially" plummeting to his death.) What kind of government did it have? (Given the Thinker symbology, evidently some rule by smarty-pants know-it-all intellectuals -- commie communist, of course.) Did they have voting privileges in the UN? (Seems likely, if they're rubbing elbows with Norway at the Games.) And -- most importantly of all -- did they sign the Kyoto accords? (Feh.)

I jest, of course. Yet just imagine how much fun it would be if companies and corporations were able to compete for gold medals, just like their terrritorial counterparts. Oh, probably not in THE Olympics, proper; leftist Tranzies all over the globe would scream "blasphemy!" upon hearing that... almost as quickly as they kowtow to newly-fabricated Islamic prohibitions-of-the-moment. But the megacorps could create their own competing version -- call it the "Trade Games" or something -- with the same unusual sports, host cities, quasi-religious torch-toting pomp and ceremony, et cetera.

To quote Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne, it'd sure be "damn good television." And just THINK of the great public-relations value (to say nothing of the advertising/economic boon!) such an event would provide to the participants. When people think of "the business world", they usually envision Evil White Men in suits and ties, frolicking decadently in piles of gold like Scrooge McDuck, Well, with the Trade Games, a company could put forth an recognizable identity before the world; complete with their own unique flags, anthems, uniforms, and so on. And the colorful athletes themselves would represent a much-needed image change from the bloated top-hat 'n monocled caricature that has been with us for far too long, there.

So! Who's up for watching a white-knuckled curling match between McDonald's and Halliburton?

(crickets, chirping)

Erm. Guess it's Totally Brilliant Ideas like this, that explain why I make pretty pictures for (not even remotely) a living.

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