Not all gaming stories occur in front of the television. In fact, many of the best ones take place "outside the box", quite literally! In "Extended Play", Rob "Flack" O'Hara tells us his tales where gaming meets real life, and vice versa.

Active Imagination

I don’t think there’s a person alive who, after playing Tetris for an hour or two, hasn’t seen those little colored blocks in their head when they shut their eyes. I’ve even had dreams about Tetris after playing Tetris! I’ve even woke myself UP playing Tetris in my sleep! I don’t know what it is about that game that invades my dreams, but some of the games I’ve been recently playing lately have started invading my waking hours!

It all started with a trip to the mall. My wife likes to do her Christmas shopping at the mall and she likes to make me drive her there. Crossroads Mall lies at the intersection of two interstates that have been under construction my entire life. For 31 years, either I-35, I-240 or usually BOTH of them have been under repair. Everyone who goes to Crossroads Mall knows they will encounter construction.

But of course, people act completely surprised. “Oh, that lane ends?” I can hear them say in my head. Of course it ends. It’s ended for 31 years now. It’s ALWAYS going to end! And yet, here they come, rushing up quickly to cut in front of me. It didn’t matter much that particular day, as traffic was at a complete stand still.

As I was sitting there looking at this lady in the car next to me, I imagined myself getting out of my car, hopping across her hood, opening her door and punching her in the face. What the hell? Where did THAT come from? Oh yeah – Grand Theft Auto! I had fun passing the time while we were stuck on the interstate, coming up with little scenarios. Since we were stopped just shy of a bridge which goes over the interstate, I begin to imagine myself driving down the embankment, crossing the interstate below, and racing up the other side with enough speed to jump over the fence, landing us directly in the mall’s parking lot. PROBABLY not possible in our Honda Odyssey min-van, but I had fun imagining the scenario none-the-less.

Once we were in the mall, it didn’t go away. As I waited on one of the park benches while my wife shopped, I began to put together skate lines, no doubt from all the time I’ve recently spent playing Tony Hawk’s Underground 2. Kick flip up onto the railing, grind to the plant, ollie off into a manual to a wall ride (knocking over the bell-ringing Santa), ending in a grind all the way down the escalator hand-railing. I kept going over the run in my head, finding new obstacles each time to add to my line. When my wife came out of the store and asked me what I was doing, I almost replied, “playing Tony Hawk.”

Walking out of the mall and back to our car was no better. After having spent one too many hours playing SOCOM II, I imagined myself crouching behind cars, ducking behind walls and doing rolls in and out of traffing. When I’d see someone all the way across the parking lot, I’d wonder if I could take them out with a head shot.

Apparently I’ve been playing a little too much Burnout 3 as well – at least that’s what my wife said about my driving skills. Weaving in and out of traffic, I got us to the restaurant where we were having lunch. Apparently I did not obtain the high score I had hoped for, as my wife insisted on driving us home from there.

“Fine with me,” I thought, as I leaned back in my chair, closed my eyes, and began to dream of Tetris …

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Last updated: Monday, July 04, 2005 10:03 PM