Monday, August 19, 2013

i am the stupid park guest

I'm not one to play a whole lot of video games.  In fact, we've had a Wii for about four or five years, and the number of times I have played it in the last two years is, maybe once. Maybe twice.  My history with video games actually goes all the way back to 1989, when my mom and dad bought me a real, genuine Nintendo 8 bit system, with the Duck Hunt gun and game, AND... check this out, AND the Power Pad.  Like, the mat that you plug in, and run on for the game World Class Track Meet.  It had four games--the 100 yard dash, the hurdles, the relay, and the Olympics, where you can combine all three games for a big score.  Was there something else?  I don't remember.

Don't know what the Power Pad is?  It looks like this picture... it was awesome. Anyway, there was a way to position your heels right behind the circles, and then quickly tap your feet on the circles... if you did it just right, there was no stopping you.  Don't believe me?  My 100 yard record is 5.61 seconds.  I remember that number, even though I haven't actually played on a Nintendo Power Pad in at least 12 years, and haven't set that record in about 20.  The other side of it had some sort of set up for a Dance Aerobics game, but that was lame-oh.

Aside from that game, I played a heavy rotation of Super Mario Brothers (1 & 3, because 2 was dumb), Tecmo Bowl (Bo Jackson was unstoppable), CastleVania (I never got past level 4), Contra (Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right A B Start), Rygar (I never understood the game, and never got anywhere), Paperboy (I liked breaking virtual windows), Mike Tyson's Punchout (I beat him once.  One.Single.Time), Tetris (I played so much, I saw it in my sleep), Top Gun (the first level ruled), Marble Madness (that game was so hardcore) and of course, the original The Legend of Zelda.

But as the game systems and technology grew, my interest in them waned.  Well, let me rephrase that.. they got smarter, I didn't.  I skipped the Super Nintendo, and by the time the Game Cube rolled around, the controllers were all fancy with 287 buttons each, and it was just too complicated. 

We bought a Nintendo Wii some years ago, and I spent 100s of hours on Star Wars Legos, and a bit of time on Toy Story Mania... but that's about it.  Just no time for such things. 

A screen shot of Forest Frontiers, after some heavy work
The game that I really like, though, when I have time to waste, is Roller Coaster Tycoon.  There might be a video game system for it, but I have the PC version... I borrowed--and forgot to give back--the original game disc from my brother in law, Tyler... I had no instructions, no clue how to do anything, and when the first game, "Forest Frontiers" popped up, I had to wing it. 

Essentially, it opens up with a big patch of a land and a park gate.  You are then to build an amusement park.  You have an opening set of rides and attractions, a handful of coasters, a few drink and snack bars and so on.  And, you are given a budget.  I tried to do the Dave Ramsey thing and build it debt free, but that's pretty fruitless.  You also have to build walkways or renovate existing walkways, and with each ride you build, it costs you money, but you have to build an entrance and an exit.  On some levels you can buy more land, some you have to clear trees and landscaping to build more, and if you want more than the initial rides and attractions, then you have to allocate money to "marketing and research";  meaning every little while, another coaster, ride or stand will be available to you to use. 

Each level gets a wee bit harder, and each one will have different objectives... some will say "Have 900 guests in your park by the end of Year 3" (each "year" lasts like, 15 minutes or something) or "Maintain a Park Rating of 850 by Year 2", and sometimes you have a brand new patch of land to work with, build your park and open with, and other times you have to start right in on an existing park, already filled with guests. 

Its a fun game, and an addicting one too.  Every time I go to Walt Disney World, I find myself thinking about Roller Coaster Tycoon, and what I can do different.  You can even hire "security guards", "mechanics" to fix rides (which I always name Larry, Gary, Barry, Terry and so on) and "janitors" to clean up (which I always name Jill, Bill, Gil, Will and so on).  Because to make an amusement park, you also have to have guests... and the guests in Roller Coaster Tycoon are... well... stupid.

In the game, or at least in the initial version of the game (there are now multiple sequels, as well as expansion packs for each, etc), the only differentiating characteristic of each guest is the color of their shirt.  Their faces, skin, size are exactly alike.  Each guest is given a number, and they all had different amounts of money in their pocket to spend, as well as various levels of stamina when it comes to hard rides and such.

But they are all stupid.  Case in point... build a coaster.  A nice roller coaster, and let it build in popularity and make you lots of money.  Eventually, that coaster will break down more and more often, making it more trouble than its worth... so you can do one of two things:  You can "close" the ride, which means all your guests in line and on the ride will exit, make their way onto your pathway and go to other rides, then you can delete your coaster. 


You can just delete it.  When you do that, everyone in the ride queue turns around and walks out.  However, the people on the ride suddenly drop to the grass below.  Some will find the path, disappear amongst the hundreds, and keep going.  Others?  Well, this is the stupid part. The others will start wandering aimlessly.  And when I say, aimlessly, I mean AIM-LESS-LEE... they scatter like a flock of startled birds... you have little "tweezers" that you can pick each guest up and place them on the path, but if there are dozens of them, its hard to pick them all up... invariably, you lose some.

You'll think you have all of them, and then suddenly you hear a beep-beep-beep notification, telling you that "Guest 194 is lost".  You do a click, and the screen will pan all the way across your park to find one or more poor souls just wandering back and forth, through the grass.  Click on them, usually they'll have a mad look on their face.  Lost.

And occasionally, you'll have everything laid out, pathways correct, connected to other pathways, and you'll still get a beep-beep-beep notification that tells you something like "Guest 491 is lost".  How are you lost, chief? I mean, seriously... you are wandering around the Carousel!  The path to the exit is two squares in front of you, genius!  Even when the path is clearly marked, Guest 491 is furious its not laid out for him completely.

Sounds like someone I know.  Namely, me. 

I am the stupid park guest. 

When everything is going swimmingly, then suddenly, something is deleted, I fall to the grass.  Most of the time, I just start wandering off in my own world.  No sense of where I'm going, but hoping I'll know where "there" is when I get there. 

I am the stupid park guest.  The path many times (re: most of the time) is very clearly marked.  And I ignore it.  I pout until I get my way, until its made even more clear... only then will I move. 

I am the stupid park guest.  Usually with less money.  And while I scoff at Guest 93 for paying my price of $9 for a drink, I then leave and spend my last bit of cash on something dumb when I should be saving up.

I am the stupid park guest.  Like the guests you can pick up and drop into the water just to watch them drown, I drown in my own fears, insecurities and general dorkfacedness. 

I am the stupid park guest.  Even when things are set forth, right in front of me, sometimes I just stop and puke on the sidewalk.  Or turn in the wrong direction anyway.  I get mad.  I get confused.  And I realize I am must be like everyone else.  No uniqueness.  No individuality.  Nothing that sets me apart. 

I am the stupid park guest.

Thankfully... I've got someone else holding the Holy Tweezers that picks me out of the mess, out of the wilderness and from the lost grass and places me back on the pathway.  Be real... you've never heard the term "Holy Tweezers" until now, right?  See, this is why I'm here.

We don't have to be stupid park guests.  We don't have to wander aimlessly.  And we don't have to wait for the Holy Tweezers to get us... we can make that move on our own. 

(thanks to Katie Porath, a friend in the START Experiment, for the inspiration for this post...)


  1. LOL about the Holy Tweezers. And now I can't stop thinking about Nintendo. I LOVED Nintendo. And Coleco!

  2. I am totally on board that Super Mario Brothers 2 was dumb), and CastleVania was really hard after level 4! And I don't know how many *thousands* of hours I killed playing Tetris. Ah, the days of the regular ole Nintendo. Love the post! Thanks for sharing!


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