Hazardous Digital Gaming Frontiers!


I have a confession to make. I like games on my phone. Well, I say, “games,” I actually mean a game. Just one game. I am addicted to this game.

A game that to be honest, is not the “In game,” to play. I don’t know what that game is currently but it is not this game because this game is pretty old now.

I’m talking about Bejewelled Blitz. A free game that requires you to switch two jewels around to make either a horizontal or vertical line of three or more of the same jewel. You get points the more you get and the quicker you are. Sometimes there are special explosive jewels or jewels that shoot out lightening and stuff.

Yeah it’s pretty old but then again I consider myself to be a retro kind of guy. Retro, you see, is cool. To wear out of date clothes and have old out of date stuff with old style glasses and crazy old style hair (if you can grow it) is cool.

That is unless you’re at school, in the 90’s. Try wearing one of your Dad’s old shirts or flares to school claiming to be cool and retro. You will probably be called a tramp and other horrible names. I know, because I’ve been there. I even stood my ground one day staring into the eyes of my oppressors as they leered over me like a pack of callous, hungry Jackals. I shouted at them, “Bricks and bones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” Then I remember the thud of hardback on skull as I was struck with a copy of the Collins English dictionary. Oh the Irony!

It wasn’t by choice though for me. Take for instance games consoles. All my friends were playing Sega Megadrives when my Dad strolled boldly into our lounge, staring at his young son with something wrapped in a bin liner under his arm. The joy as he looked down at his son, knowing he was about to change his young life and introduce him to the world of electronic gaming platforms. The future was wrapped in that bin liner. It was then he unwrapped the box of tricks. A chorus of angels and a bright light would have been apt at that moment by the way my Dad was acting.

The first thing I noticed was the wooden boxing. Then the thick metal switches that looked like they belonged in a Spitfire. Then the little plastic blocks that contained the magic that would lead me to hours and hours and hours or should I say, my Dad and my uncle to hours and hours and hours of fun for the next week.

It was of course, an Atari.

“What’s an Atari?” my friends at school would ask as they continued with their conversations about Streets of Rage, NHL Hockey or some other 16bit fantasy world that were the destinations of their escapism for several hours a day.

But during my weeks alone during the school holidays, I would either be playing space invaders or some ping pong game. Either that or getting out doors, running amongst the conifer trees at the bottom of my garden. I’d be wearing a green body warmer that my Grandparents had bought me, again something that wasn’t in fashion, and a sporting supersoaker water pistol. I may have been unfashionable outside on the street but hey, I was Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator amongst those conifers.

But I did catch up a little bit. “Hey, have you played that game Sonic the Hedgehog? The graphics are amazing!” I exclaimed full of glee at my friends who were discussing how fit the very angular Lara Croft was in the new Tombraider game that they had just had.

So it continues through into my thirties. I may not have the same bullying but when it comes to the digital gaming frontier, I’m still a bit behind.

Trouble is, it is not very flattering. It can even severely cause your intact suave and sophisticated reputation to be compromised.

I sat on the loo intending to play Bejewelled Blitz whilst carrying out the natural bodily function or as I like to refer to it indirectly, “Having a lie down.” It should only take five minutes. But I got hooked!

You see, I noticed that there are varying degrees of accomplishments depending on how high your score is. I had reached 25/25 for reaching a score of 50-75K. But I was on 94/100 for 25-50K. I thought to myself that I must be in for some sort of award. Some sort of special upgrade. Perhaps a “Power Up” as we used to call it back in the day. I must get 100/100 for 25K. That was my aim.  My mission and once I decide I’m going to do something then I will do it! Once I walked around the peninsula of Kaikoura in New Zealand on a whim, a sort of focussed, determined, personal challenge. Well, I got to the tip, perhaps a little bit further, but I had to head back as it was getting dark. I just hadn’t thought it through and started it too late in the day. Still counts.

After all it would only be another 6 minutes or so at a minute a game. Mrs Grump was getting concerned as I was on the loo for almost half an hour! Well, perhaps 50 minutes or so. Ok, so I hit the record of 63 minutes but I blame Bejewelled Blitz!!!!

After getting mainly scores of below 25K or over 50K (I won’t brag) I finally did it. 100/100 games scored at 25-50K.

What was the reward for my achievements? What great weapon or “Power Up” was I able to bring into my future games?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing apart from numb legs, my arse with a severe red ring around it and a pungent bathroom. Mrs Grump was definitely at risk of being hot boxed. It was a code brown!

I am now currently standing at 100/250 for scores of over 25-50K. The game has just lured me to play in the hope of winning something and then simply moved the goal posts.

Annoyed, having wasted an hour of my life, I stood up, wiped, and then groaned as my numb legs that had gone to sleep started to get some blood flow back. Bloody pins and needles!


Well that was worth it.


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