when i was in the fifth grade i went to a birthday party for a girl in my class. i didn't arrive early or anything, but we were still waiting for people to arrive before the festivities could begin and a couple girls were playing a video game. i grew up in a house where we didn't have video games and i never really had any interest in them whatsoever, so when one of the girls handed me the game controller i handed it to someone else. she played for awhile but when she finished she asked who wanted to play next and somehow i was nominated for the position. i told them i didn't know how to play but they put the controller in my hands and left, and suddenly i was struggling through a maze that quickly became the only video game i have ever played.
now, i've played the wii and guitar hero in the last few years, but i don't consider those actual video games. a video game by my definition has a controller with a bunch of buttons and a cord leading back to the console. you know, regular old nintendo-playstation type games. so. back to the story.
this game might have been a mario game. i'm not really sure, but i remember a character and i remember something about trying to get to a princess, which for some reason reminds me of a mario game. i might be crazy though. like i said, no video game experience. there were monkeys. that i remember. they were the bad guys. and there were also bananas. i don't actually remember the role of these bananas though. possibly they gave you extra points. possibly they made you slip and fall. who knows. it was along time ago.
what i do remember is that this video game consisted of me moving a character (maybe mario, maybe someone else) from screen to screen in an attempt to get to a place i couldn't see or visualize or even begin to comprehend while simultaneously trying to dodge evil monkeys. this proved too difficult a task for me as no one had explained how the controller worked. i only knew the arrow buttons, as even the evil monkeys probably could have figured that out. i moved my guy forward and when a monkey would appear i would send my guy running in the opposite direction. this worked for a few seconds cause the monkeys paced back and forth a few times before coming after him. but eventually they always walked into my guy, causing him to fall off the screen and lose one of his very limited number of lives. i played a couple times, experimenting with different buttons, and i did learn how to make him jump. up and down. very useful. but in the end i never made it past the second screen. i never got to see where i was going which, as evidenced by the fact that i'm even writing about this, has haunted me to this day. i am a person who needs closure and in my mind my little mario is still hanging out on the first screen running away from the monkeys and getting nowhere.
i do remember this for another reason though. i think, at some level, this game has come to represent how i feel about life. some part of me feels like i'm the one who is running back and forth and jumping up and down, out of breath and not getting anywhere. another part of me feels like i'm still sitting there, pressing random combinations of buttons, and growing frustrated because i have no idea what i'm doing and why the heck didn't someone tell me how to get past the monkeys! there's a princess in there somewhere but i have no idea where she is and finding her is proving to be impossible because i can't even get past the first few steps of the game. big sigh.
if i played the game today, i'd probably be able to figure out, after much jabbing of buttons, how to jump forward and over the monkeys. i'd probably even pass the first few levels. but then i'd get bored and quit and the game would take on a whole new meaning for me. it'd probably haunt me because i'm a quitter and can never stick to my goals. probably video games can be likened to many aspects of life. but i wouldn't really know. i only ever played the one. and i didn't even like it.