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April 6, 2011 / jwaxo

1942 (Injuries)

How convenient that Japanese fighters always flew in predictable paths!

My house growing up was an awesome two-story deal, with a basement and a big backyard and a pretty cool neighborhood. For a bunch of years the space behind our house was undeveloped except for dirt hills and barbed wire and unfinished foundations. My siblings and our friends and I had countless adventures back there, from the time the kid who lived behind us claimed that there was a jar of the Ninja Turtles’ ooze buried in the dirt, to the time we all crawled under a rusty fence to a hidden clubhouse. Eventually all of the dirt hills were replaced with subdivisions and green yards and sprinklers, but that didn’t stop us from exploring the neighborhood in our ways, it just changed our tact. Instead of running through the dirt, we would walk barefooted on the asphalt, or walk at night looking at Christmas lights, or bike on the bike path that ran from the park, south of us, to the electronics plant, north of us, and split off to the neighboring subdivisions.

I won’t claim to be the best biker in the world. I’ve had my share of harrowing experiences, sure, most of them following this same extremely basic formula: I take a turn, my tires slip on something that I didn’t notice, I slide into the ground in an agonizing slow motion that probably needs some awesome music. The first time this happened to me that I can recall happened right outside our house, on The Intersection.

In my little kid mind, it was always capitalized. There was no other intersection, only the one that was at the back corner of my house, between the bike path and the shorter path that ran across it, connecting our subdivision with the one behind it. It was very important.

I was biking around with my friend from a few streets over, probably just going from place to place as quickly as we could. As we approached the Intersection, though, I saw something. I’m not sure what it was, but in my memory it looked like pieces of a clay pigeon. My friend turned the corner away from my house on a dime, either avoiding the debris or cruising right over it. I cruised right over it, too, or at least planned to; instead I found myself sliding sideways, in a world of pain, at last skidding to a stop on the asphalt. I’m sure, in a manly display of an aversion to pain, I politely asked my friend to get my mom.

I was probably polite in there, somewhere.

After the agonizing pain of having gravel scrubbed from my wounds and fresh bandages applied to my bleeding, manly wounds, I collapsed onto a mat in front of the TV while my friend fired up 1942.

1942. Now that was a game. A few years ago I saw the arcade version in a movie theater and nearly exploded with nostalgia. A classic shoot-em-up, you versus the entire Japanese airforce with nothing but a sweet-looking airplane (apparently modeled after a Lockheed P-38 Lightning) and maybe some powerups to help you reach Tokyo. And if, like us, you owned a second controller for your NES, you could have a friend play as the legendary Blue Plane.

I can’t say that I played many shoot-em-ups after 1942 passed into the land of forgotten games, but I did enjoy that one a heck of a lot, and find myself remembering it at the stupidest of times. Playing a game where enemies for predictable, recognizable patterns? I feel like I’m in kindergarten again! Does a boss have a bunch of small parts that shoot at you, requiring you to destroy all of them before the boss is defeated? Wish I had the splitter powerup!

But on that day, it distracted me from the excruciating, mind-wrenching, unbearable pain in my knee and palm.

The lesson there is that video games can easily help you get through awful pain that you’re experiencing. And that area behind our house was a breeding ground for all kinds of pain.

For instance, the time in second grade when all of the neighbor kids were lifting up that wooden pylon that blocked motor access to the bike path, and they all dropped it onto my fingertips.

Zelda helped me get through that, though I probably didn’t do much playing.

Or the time that, while playing a game of “chase crazily along the path” with our dog, I was the one that unluckily fell into the patch of clover that an entire swarm of bees was resting in.

As I recall, that was an instant free pass for the first go at Ninja Gaiden.

Of course, there are the times where the situation is cruelly, cruelly reversed, and I’m not talking about the fights for first player or arguments over who got to be Oddjob, where videogames indirectly cause injury. No, sir. I’m talking about the hurting that comes specifically from playing games.

What, you think I’m referring to sissy Wii injuries or something?

Mario Party, son.

Check and mate.

You really don’t need a picture of my palm missing a square inch of skin, do you?

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