Picture this: It’s 1982 and you're a ten-year old kid from south Alabama with an accent that sounds as if you were speaking with a mouthful of rubber bands. Words like “ya’ll” and “dang” regularly creep into your speech patterns, finding root in nearly every sentence you utter. You are sitting on your bed, holding a cassette recorder. You’ve got a near-obsessive fascination with Howard Cosell and a game of Realsports Baseball for the Atari 2600 just firing up on your TV screen.
The only problem is, you are tired of this game: Tired of the vaguely human-shaped splotches blinking their way around the bases. Sick of jamming the joystick left and right, trying to eke out an extra ounce of hustle from your base-running pixelblobs. Your thumb is sore and there is a nasty blister building up on the inside of your left-hand middle finger, where the corner of the joystick base has been digging in for the past few days.
“C’mon now, just one more game,” says your best friend, his accent similar to yours, making the word “now” rhyme with “bah.”
“Dang, man. Not now. My fingers hurt.” Mah fayngers hert.
“Okay then, how about I play one alone?” your friend asks.
He nods his head and begins the first inning. The poor guy seems to be enjoying himself and he’s been doing this just as long as you have. But you’re bored. Bored as you’ve ever been. So what do you do? Why, what any well-adjusted southern boy with a cassette recorder would do in a similar situation: You hit the RECORD button and begin doing play-by-play of your best bud’s game into the microphone.
Only, your own voice is not good enough. Too pedestrian, too commonplace. You need something with more pizzazz, something the imaginary audience can instantly familiarize themselves with and relate to. So instead of using your prepubescent southern twang, you bust out with your best Howard Cosell.
“This is Ho-ward Co-sell here to tell it like it is, as the At-lanta Braves take on their National League rivals, the Chi-ca-go Cubs…”
If you haven’t guessed, I am the little redneck Cosell in the above story and somewhere, hidden in one of the back closets of my parent’s home in Birmingham, lies the actual cassettes of my down-home Cosell impressions, recorded when I was around nine or ten years old. Since I'm the newest GameSpot member--as well as the new Sports Editor--I thought it would be appropriate to introduce myself with this, perhaps my earliest sports gaming memory.
Reflecting on the anecdote some twenty-odd years later, two points stand out to me that are as relevant to today’s games as they were way back when. First, people have the potential for nearly limitless creativity, especially when bored. Second, this creative spark can most definitely be applied to your favorite games. Despite the multitude of options, features, and play modes found in 2004 releases, they can often pale in comparison to what you can come up with on your own. Take these ideas from more recent game releases, for example:
- Ever tried jousting with an online buddy or two on MotoGP2? With some spare time, a long straight stretch of pavement--such as that found at Mugello--and decent reflexes, you can create some of the most horrific (and hilarious) crashes this side of Burnout 3. Sure it’s dumb fun, but who’s against that? Without mindless, shallow entertainment, people like George Lopez and the entire cast of “Yes, Dear” would be on the breadline.
- Just last week I participated in a great game of City of Heroes Jeopardy, organized on-the-fly by an industrious, creative (and perhaps a tad irked) gamer. The winner of the impromptu match won a couple thousand influence points (the currency of the CoH world) and a great time was had by all. Unfortunately, I came in third place in the contest and immediately swore a blood oath to destroy all my competitors once the CoH expansion pack--City of Villains--is released. Cower before me, eggheads!
- Five words: Barbie Horse Adventures Drinking Games.
You see, there’s a lot you can do to make the games you’ve already got in your library more fun. With a dash of ingenuity, a dollop of creativity, and a pound-and-a-quarter of good old-fashioned American ennui, you can stretch your gaming dollar to its limit. Give it a try!