Thursday, April 22, 2010

COLUMN: Video Games vs. Real Life

Hey, what are you doing reading this? Don't you know?? The poor townsfolk of Bodhum are being exiled to Pulse! A fal'Cie was discovered, so the Sanctum sent the PSICOM to purge them to Pulse. Maybe a smart move, because we all know what happens when a fal'Cie starts turning people into l'Cie, right? Cocoon may NEVER be the same!

Hopefully you're one of the sane ones and have no clue what I'm talking about. There's several hundred folks in the Quad Cities who know all about the plight of the l'Cie. But they're not reading the paper. They're too busy playing Final Fantasy XIII. And after 13 installments, I'm starting to doubt the finality of these fantasies.

The Final Fantasy series is THE creme de la creme of console role-playing video games. There simply isn't a better-looking, more compelling game on Earth. Anyone with more than a passing interest in video games understands why doors get locked and calls go unanswered when Square Enix rolls out a new FF installment. I don't know anyone who says, "Wow, those games are really bad."

Correction: I DIDN'T know anyone who said that. Then I met my girlfriend Amy. Her exact words on Final Fantasy, though, came with a look of horror and intolerance: "My... brother... plays... those... games." I'm not a mind-reader or anything, but I'm starting to think she wasn't exactly making a GOOD comparison here.

I like the occasional video game, but I also like my life. Hence, I try to stay away from the long, epic RPG's that suck your soul away for days and weeks on end. But Final Fantasy XIII is too good NOT to play. Maybe having no life is the way to go...


(1) Let's say your entire future hinged upon a successful job interview. And let's say you enter that office and say something so horrifically stupid that you're led out of the interview by security and your life is ruined. If life were a video game, you could simply PAUSE your life and RESTART FROM LAST SAVE POINT and just try the interview over and over until you get the job. And if you mess up so bad that you fall over dead from embarassment? No worries -- you've got two extra lives.

(2) Life deserves cheat codes. You've lost your job and teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. In the real world, you could go live on the streets or spend years digging yourself out of debt. If life were a video game, you could simply go left-left-up-A-B-A-down-down and suddenly have unlimited money.

(3) In video games, you never have a bad hair day. You wake up a heaving carcass of sinewy muscles and brute strength. You are eternally awesome without ever walking into a gym.

(4) If life were a video game, you could find gold everywhere you looked. Smash a box? Gold. Jump on a toadstool? Gold. You would think all this loose change lying around would do some wonky things to inflationary rates, but the guy at the weapons shop ALWAYS charges the same for his wares.

(5) My friend Chris insists on me mentioning something about Hot Anime Babes, which I totally would -- if I didn't have a super-cute girlfriend who would punch me hard in the arm. Suffice to say that in the world of video games, no one punches you hard in the arm when you talk about Hot Anime Babes.

(6) More to the point, Hot Anime Babes do not chastise you about your quests or demand "snuggle time."

(7) Elves are awesome. They do NOT live at the North Pole or in a tree making Keebler cookies. They kick butt.

(8) Your universe is linear and your objective is clear. In the real world, my weekends are full of conversations like this: "So, what do you wanna do today?" "I dunno, what do YOU wanna do?" "I dunno, I asked first." In video games, you ALWAYS know what you want to do today: Jump the barrels. Defeat the monkey. Save the Princess.

(9) In real life, when I try to sing, I sound like a castrated cat. Yet out of the 4,900,000 people who play Rock Band, I am ranked on the scoreboards as the 12th greatest singer in the world. To compare, Rolling Stone recently released their list of the greatest vocalists in the world. Their pick for #12 was Little Richard. Hence, I am the Little Richard of cyberspace.

(10) In the world of video games, eternal life is always yours, and it doesn't even take an ounce of faith. Reincarnation just costs another quarter.

That said, I also came up with 5 reasons why the real world might be the better world of choice:

(1) While it's true that as a brave adventurer, you often are surrounded by one or more Hot Anime Babes, you never really get anywhere with them except a giggle and some speech about togetherness (*unless you're playing Grand Theft Auto, to which I utter a terse and G-rated "no comment.") Sometimes you don't even get that. You can play Donkey Kong until your fingers bleed and you NEVER rescue that stupid princess. I just watched a Donkey Kong documentary (I know, not really gaining any cool points with this column, am I?) and do you know how you "win" Donkey Kong? You reach a score level too high for the game to calculate and it FREEZES up on you. Not exactly a happy ending.

(2) There are far fewer Orcs in the real world. Orcs are bad news.

(3) You can sleep in the real world. This is a rarity in the land of video games ("PRESS (X) TO SNORE! TAP (Y) REPEATEDLY TO PERFORM BUTT-SCRATCH MANEUVER!")

(4) In all of my final fantasies, rock bands, and RPG's, I have yet to encounter a pizza-delivery guy. With the exception of the old Nintendo 64 game "Yo Noid," in which I believe you PLAY a pizza-delivery guy.

(5) You take considerably less damage sitting on your couch. Let's say you beat Final Fantasy. That's fine and good, but by THAT point, you've been slashed, gouged, maimed, and shot THOUSANDS of times. Surely this must result in some permanent scarring, a surplus of limps, and a likely burning sensation when you pee. Is it worth it?

Don't ask me - I'm putting the video game down. I've got a super-cute, NON-anime, flesh and blood girlfriend to go snuggle with.

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