Tag Archives: stories

The Tale of The Time I Found a Weird Arcade In Another Dimension

So a couple years back Mister Adequate and myself visited a little arcade that was in the back of a dinky bagel shop.  So far so normal, right?

As it turns out this arcade was anything but normal.  The room itself had a weird feeling to it, as if it wasn’t quite of this world but was trying its hardest to blend in.  The games themselves were proof that this wasn’t your average arcade.

For starters, there was a Pac-Man machine with a maze that wasn’t anything like a normal Pac-Man maze.  Also, when you won, it said “Linear Elect” instead of Game Over.  I actually took a picture of it because it was so weird.


There was also a game called “Kickman” which neither I nor Mister Adequate have ever heard of before in our entire lives.  Now not to brag or anything but we kind of know a lot about video games.  It’s why we’re writing this blog, after all.  But “Kickman”?  It was brand new to us.  Wikipedia says it exists, but I’m dubious.  I’m pretty sure the wikipedia page was spawned into existence by whatever otherworldly power is behind that strange arcade.

Finally, there was a Frogger machine that refused to accept regular quarters.  Presumably because it only accepts quarters from its own native dimension – wherever that is.

I think the only normal game in the building was Donkey Kong.  Probably because Nintendo hardware is impervious to things like damage and black holes and time continuums.

So there you have it.  The strange tale of the arcade from an alternate universe.  I wonder what other sorts of games await us beyond our own world?

A Positive Escape and a Digital Angel

A criticism I often see leveled at games and gaming is that it’s an “escape”. The idea is that, by immersing yourself in a game, you’re removing yourself from real life. Usually– though not always– there is often a sort of “hiding from your problems” undertone here. And is there a valid point here? Of course there is. One can escape into anything and games are not immune from this.

But what if an escape is good, sometimes?

Let me tell you all a little personal story. As you may or may not know, I have an anxiety disorder, and it’s one that is bad enough that I’m on meds and therapy for it. This disorder manifests itself in a few different ways, including panic attacks that strike at random and a never-ending undercurrent of worry. Aside from these, I’ve pinpointed a couple of specific triggers as well, one of which is being surrounded by people and having no escape route. I wish I could express how terrifying this is to me. I guess I’ll just say that when that feeling strikes, I’ve never felt more like the rabbit species that I frequently compare myself to.

I'm certainly not a very terrifying one.

To make things worse, I currently work in retail, where being surrounded by people is a given. Working weekends– the busy days– is hell, but nothing is more hellish than working during the holiday season, which basically feels like a neverending stream of weekends.

Where am I going with this? Well, let me tell you a bit about this last holiday season. It was about halfway into December and with just a couple of weeks left before Christmas, things were really starting to pick up. Going into work every day was utterly terrifying. We were understaffed, overworked, and I was surrounded by hundreds of squirming, loud, and demanding bodies coming from every direction. I think my anxiety must have been emanating from my brain and pouring out my ears. It was pretty rough. There is one thing that really kept me from completely losing it, though:


See, Mister Adequate, sweetheart that he is, got it for me as an early Birthday/Christmas present, so I started playing it at right about the time that work was getting really bad. And for those few anxious weeks, it became my escape. I could come home from the worst, most anxiety-inducing day at work and bury myself in a beautiful world of near-solitude, wandering around and harvesting herbs and listening to the gentle flow of the rivers that crisscrossed Tamriel. Sometimes my mind would start to wander back to real life and to the impending next work day, but I soon learned to keep my mind “bounded” within the confines of the television screen, so to speak. If my thoughts wandered, I’d catch myself and refocus myself on the crisp visuals of the game and lose myself in them again. Skyrim taught me this skill, and I was able to use it to calm myself and keep my anxiety levels down even after the very worst days.

The game’s story, too, was therapeutic; this will sound remarkably cheesy but the truth is that thinking of myself as Dragonborn and of every day of work as a dragon to slay made going in so much easier than it would have been otherwise.

Just like this.

Well, to make a long story short, I survived the holidays and came out none the worse for wear. It’s March, now, and Christmas is long gone. I haven’t played Skyrim in a little while. In fact, I sort of fizzled out on it not long after the holidays were over. I’ve returned to my strategy games. In a way, though, I think of that game as a digital guardian angel which descended from the gaming gods to make sure I got through a rough period in my life alright, and then stepped back into the shadows once it saw that I’d be okay. It’ll be there if I need it again, just like all the other games which held my hand and guided me through rough and uncertain times in my life: Final Fantasy 6. Yoshi’s Island. Ocarina of Time.

Gaming is an escape, but sometimes it’s an escape you need more than anything else. And that’s a truth that this little bunny knows very well.

Drats, Foiled Again!

Okay guys, gather round and I’m going to tell you a story about a Civ IV game that Mister Adequate and I played. It went something like this:

Starting as early as I could I built up this massive, massive army over the course of several in-game centuries. I wish I could tell you exactly how big the stack was, but I can’t remember the details, only that it was huge and contained dozens of catapults and at least a score of swordsmen, axemen, and crossbowmen. It was just ridiculously imposing.

I then spent 80 turns sending the freaking thing across the map to Mister Adequate’s base. 80 turns, because for whatever reason the map we were playing on was completely covered in mountains so it took forever to get anywhere.

Eventually, though, my massive military was parked outside of one of his outer cities. At which point I informed my dear partner over voice chat that if he didn’t give me all of his tech, I would destroy his city.

He was quiet for a while, I think out of utter shock, and then asked to see my army so he could make an accurate assessment of the stakes. I agreed and inched my army a bit closer to him.

This is where I noticed two things. Firstly, he was playing a Protective-trait leader, so he had extra defense built into his cities by default. Secondly, the march across the map had taken SO LONG that he’d just finished researching Feudalism by the time I got there and was upgrading everyone to Longbowmen, which– for those of you who are not familiar with Civ IV– are incredibly effective defensive units well into mid-game.

And I made a big mistake here. A BIG mistake.

Namely, I voiced my dismay at these two facts. In other words, I was betraying a bit of insecurity on my end.

So you know what Mister Adequate did?

He said, and I quote, “Come at me, bro.”

Just like this.

I quailed here. I could hear a bit of panic in his voice, and so the thought crossed my mind that maybe he was bluffing, but then I got scared. He did have longbowmen. He did have a Defensive leader. The city I was standing next to was on a hill. And the guy I was playing against does actually have a master’s degree in this sort of thing. (No, really, he does.) And the game’s built-in combat odds estimation wasn’t telling me a whole lot, either.

And what if he had his own massive army, hidden in wait somewhere? Waiting to strike once my own army was demolished?

So I… said never mind and backed off. Actually, I had a new plan, because I was researching gunpowder at that point and figured that soon I could upgrade my units and try again. But we quit the game for the night not long after and I never got to that point.

That’s when he laughed at me and told me that he had been bluffing and I probably could have taken at least a couple of his cities easily.

Drats. Foiled again. :(

I’m not the only one who has made stupid mistakes like this, right? D: