Pinball lizard

As if I didn’t have enough to distract me from my work, I’ve learned that my computer has a pinball game.

Over the years, I’ve tried to limit computer game-playing because it takes so much time away from productive work. I can kid myself about roaming the Internet and reading e-mail and amusing myself with YouTube idiocies -- those might serve some business purpose or spark some creative impulse -- but games? Not so much.

Not that I’ve been immune. I’m a long-time addict to Solitaire and its evil cousin, Spider Solitaire, and probably could’ve doubled my work output over the years if I would’ve simply eliminated those games from my computer. And there was that long flirtation with Tetris that nearly cost me my career.

But I don’t download games or upload games or generally seek out games that will result in even more wasted time. And I’ve completely avoided the more complicated role-playing games and war games. I’ve seen what those have done to my teen-aged sons. I can’t stand to lose that many brain cells.

But one day recently, I discovered that my computer came pre-loaded with “Space Cadet 3-D Pinball.” Oh, my.

I had to try it, right? I mean it was right there, taking up space, as it were, begging me to check it out and decide whether to eliminate it from my computer’s overloaded memory.

Well. I quickly found that it’s remarkably realistic, if scaled a little small for aged eyes. It sounds just like a real pinball game, with all the bumpers and bells and flippers. Plus, because it’s a space-themed game, it’s flush with laser noises and wormholes and black holes and relaunches and weapons upgrades. All the things that make an old pinball veteran lose his mind.

I’m a member of the last generation that came of age with pinball games. Yes, arcades still feature pinball, but I was a teen when all the games were mechanical, before video games took over. Oh, sure, I remember Pac-Man and Frogger and Pong and some of those other early games, but they were new to arcades back then, and we old pinball hands didn’t think they’d catch on.

I spent many, many hours in the game room of my college’s student union, where it was all about billiards and pinball. I think there was an Asteroids game off in a corner, but the real men were pinball wizards, wasting our lives a quarter at a time.

For years, I rarely engaged in pinball. When my sons were small, I’d occasionally take them to a local arcade. They’d play video games while I’d be off in a corner, whamming away at a pinball game.

If anyone had asked, I would’ve said I finally outgrew pinball. Much too busy and important to sit around, fondling my flippers, pursuing a high score and cussing when I lose.

Then I stumbled across the computer pinball game and became a Space Cadet, playing until my hands cramp. I’m twitchy all the time. I hear bells and lasers in my sleep. My whole life has gone “tilt.”

At least, this time around, my pinball addiction is free. If I’m going to get no work done, I can’t spare the quarters.

1 comment:

Life without Clots said...

i imagine you get a lot of "TILT"s