March 4, 2009

Domestic City, Part Eight

When Nina told Anthony that their marriage of eighteen years was coming to an end, Anthony wanted two things. First, his wife back. Then, to lock himself in a hotel room for two days with a dozen video games. One of his wishes came true.

In preparation for his lost weekend, Anthony walked through a game store picking up a variety of titles which he selected almost at random and without regard for cost, like a shopping spree of the super-depressed.

Stationed at the foot of his single hotel room bed, he loaded the new Grand Theft Auto. His intent was to steal a sports car and drive it straight down the sidewalk in a violent kaleidoscope of property and bodily damage. Anthony hadn't touched a Grand Theft Auto since college, and was surprised by how easily the motions of play returned to him. He was diving out of moving cars and steering helicopters as if no time had passed. It felt like coming home, which was lucky for him now that he didn't have one.

Anthony looked, for what was really the first time, at all the games that he had bought that day. Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, Mario: all new versions of things that he was playing eighteen years ago. It occurred to him that if developers kept remaking and revising these franchises as they evidently did, then he could have been playing these same games all his life. He tried to imagine what it would have even been like, always having a current generation Tomb Raider or Sim City waiting for him, no matter who or where he was.

He'd made himself learn how to balance spreadsheets in Baldur's Gate, how to cook in Order Up, how to handle sports cars in Burnout Paradise, how to arrange furniture in the Sims, how to putt in Wii Golf and how to enhance his awareness of current affairs with Global Conflicts: Palestine, but in retrospect couldn't remember if he had enjoyed doing any of it.

From where Anthony was sitting, stability had its merits.

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