I’m not that big a fan of computer games, but back in 1994 the only things a computer could do were word-processing and running Myst. This was a game that let you walk around what you soon recognize to be the most boring island ever created. The goal of Myst was to try to kill yourself so that you didn’t have to continue walking around, but this was impossible, as there was no way to die. In fact, there was no way to do anything that didn’t involve walking around. You’d be like, “Hey, there’s a forest path I can walk through. Oh, wait, I don’t want to walk through a forest path. Fuck this.”
The only good computer games I’ve ever played were back when I was in elementary school. Occasionally the teacher would be like, “Alright, class, you can either work on your spelling packet or go play some Oregon Trail. It’s your call.” For those of you who’ve never heard of it, Oregon Trail was based on the actual adventures of people from the 1800’s who were walking around Oregon for some unknown reason. The object of this game was to try to cross a bunch of rivers without losing your entire supply of wheat and 20 goddamned oxen. This almost never happened. You’d see a river and be like, “Oh, shit, here comes another river. Dear God, please don’t kill off my oxen. I’ll do anything if you please just let me cross this one river without losing half of my freaking oxen.” Then the game would be like, “You have lost 12 oxen and have received the syphilis virus. Also, you are dying. Oh, and by the way, 3 more of your oxen have just died.” It was like, “Hey, screw you, Oregon Trail. I really don’t need to deal with this bullshit right now. I’ve got to go play some kickball to clear my head.”
What’s interesting is that, although schools nowadays are very uptight about not having guns represented in class, 50% of Oregon Trail involved hunting down various animals with a rifle. It didn’t matter how much food you caught because you knew that you’d lose it all the next time you tried to cross a river, but this was OK. Anything was better than working on some kind of packet that the teacher wanted you to do. In those days, teachers loved giving out work in the packet form.
My all-time favorite game to play was Number Munchers, which was about a frog who enjoyed doing math. The twist was that you had to deal with a bunch of monsters who seemed to be really pissed off that this frog was doing math, and they ran around chasing after you. They were like, “Oh, so you’re doing math, are you? Well let’s see how you like doing math after I kill you!” The game didn’t really make any sense, but it did teach me a lot of real-life skills. Now I can not only perform basic arithmetic, I can also perform basic arithmetic while a monster is chasing after me. Eventually, this is bound to come in handy.