A lot of people out there will tell you that Bill Gates is the anti-Christ, that he’s a maniacal genius bent on world domination and the enslavement of masses though his Web browser. Even the federal government has gone so far as to release Janet Reno to crack his evil empire’s monopoly.
But I think everyone is missing the point. The real threat isn’t Windows 98. And it isn’t Microsoft Explorer either. The real threat is that other little item that comes already loaded on our computers. I’m talking about the Windows games. Or as I more affectionately refer to them, the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.
Now I know what some of you are saying. Mike, what are you talking about? I’m not part of the machine. I’m raging against the machine. I have a pink iMAC. I will not go gently into that good night.
Well to you five ladies I say congratulations. You’ve purchased your freedom from the machine for the small price of having a stupid looking computer that can be bought in five, groovy colors. And they’re just the right size to fit in the back seats of your new Volkswagen Beetles! Why don’t you go write a poem about how you feel and share it at Caf? Gelman? But for the rest of us who have chosen to have a computer that is compatible with the real world I would like to talk about Plague, Famine, War and Death.
FreeCell. Just what exactly is so free about this game? I can’t even figure out why anyone would think it is fun, let alone liberating. There are eight blank spaces for cards at the top, 52 randomly arranged cards at the bottom, and 32,000 ways to waste hours on end. I watch my roommate and other friends just get sucked into it, and I don’t understand why. Can someone tell me why? Please?
Hearts. Gee, this sounds like fun. A name that makes you think of love, caring, rainy afternoons playing cards with your family. This game should be a lot of fun shouldn’t it? Nope. The Microsoft Hearts Network is more cutthroat than a Shanghai back-room poker game. I like to change the names of the computer players from friendly ones such as Ben, Michelle, and Pauline to ones that more honestly reflect their nature: Hitler, Stalin, Attila, and lately Slobi…Sloba.Slobalkasdjf Milosal;ksjh. Why such hostility? Well Hitler always passes you the queen of spades when all you only have two other spades and when you decide to shoot the moon, Uncle Joe picks up the last heart. Bastards.
Minesweeper. At least this game doesn’t try to hide behind some enigmatic or misleading name. This is war, and you know it. My problem is this: You play the beginner level for speed. Intermediate level is fun too. But expert, ooh expert, you bust your ass, and every time you end up in the corner with a 50-50 shot at guessing where the last two mines are. And that little smiley face is just staring at you, taunting you, Oh you’ll never figure it out Mike. Better hurry up and take a guess, come on the clock’s ticking. Tick…tick…tick… So what can you do but guess? And your guess is always wrong. Suddenly Smiley doesn’t feel like smiling so much, he just frowns, and won’t even look at you anymore.
And last but certainly not least, Solitaire. Solitaire. As if in this day and age we need anything else that encourages us to not interact with other people. Wonderful. You can waste just as much time on this game as any of the others, but in this case you get to develop a gambling addiction as well. It’s just like Vegas. You do OK on the first few hands. Then you win, you’re up a couple hundred, the bouncing cards have got your heart pumping, and you’re feeling pretty good. Ten hands later you haven’t gotten anything more than the two of diamonds up, and you’re in the hole for twice as much as you were up. Whoopee! And we can’t quit while we’re down.
Forget Internet Explorer. Forget Y2K. Forget GWIS2’s warnings about SPAM mail. The real enemies are the Windows games. And the four horsemen are only the tip of the iceberg. Rodent’s Revenge, Chip’s Challenge, Jeezball – don’t even get me started on Jeezball. Be afraid people. Be very afraid.