The Vidsanity Chronicles

You may have come late to the “vidsanity” party. You may have read about it in John Scalzi’s By the Way post. (Or, heck, by now, even the New York Times. Who knows?) Or you may have had better things to do than sit around all day Saturday waiting for Dave’s next “vidsanity” post. In any case, whatever your situation, I give you the Vidsanity Chronicles, a chronologically organized repacking of old news: Dave and Jim’s 24 hours of video games.

Vidsanity! Friday, February 25, 5:37 p.m.
Two years ago — the last time my wife and daughter left me and my son alone in the house — we decided to conduct a bold experiment: to see if we could consume every meal for an entire day at the least favorite restaurant of the women of the house: McDonald’s. The result of our efforts was a visionary Web page. Its influence, of course, spread far and wide, most notably to a rather successful film documentary. (I should add that I have never requested, nor do I expect, any compensation for my efforts. It is enough that my work is recognized.)

Now, the x-chromosome-rich component of the family has departed once again, leaving the males to contemplate their next venture. It didn’t take us long to come up with a plan:

24 HOURS OF VIDEO GAMES.

No breaks. No stopping for cooking, or bathing, or anything other than vital bodily functions. Yes, food will be consumed, but all of it will be microwaveable or prepared in advance. In the spirit of human endeavor, we will, of course, be recording it here for posterity and product endorsement potential.

TWO GUYS. ONE CONSOLE. ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT, FOR 24 HOURS.

We will rise at 5 a.m. tomorrow and will play video games without rest until 5 a.m. Sunday morning. There are those who will claim that a 38-year-old man is not equipped for the task. There are others who will argue that a 13-year-old boy shouldn’t be allowed such an extended stretch of unmitigated adrenaline rush. However,

WE WILL NOT BE DENIED.

Visit Wordmunger.com for constant updates, including the preparatory phase this evening and live updates throughout the 24 HOURS OF VIDSANITY!

Vidsanity: My thoughts 8:32 p.m.
Hi, I’m Jim. I’m slightly addicted to video games, but most of the time my EVIL parents put unreasonable limits on my computer/gamecube time. However, in what Mom will prehaps consider the stupidest moment of Dad’s life, Dad sugested that when Mom and my sister, Nora, leave to go see relatives, that Dad and I shold try and go for 24 hours STRAIGHT playing video games nonstop. My thought on this: AWESOME. And now it begins: the Vidsanity.

Vidsanity preparation: the food. 8:40 p.m.
At 6:00 I picked up Jim (or “kingkrispy” as he’s known online) at the activity bus stop. Good thing he had track practice today; he’s not going to be doing much physical activity for approximately the next 48 hours.

First stop was dinner: a quick burrito at Qdoba (Jim’s tastes have changed in the past two years!). We conferenced about what the ideal food for 24 solid hours of gaming could be. Oddly, we came to a consensus on chips and guacamole. Of course, we’d need some healthy food as well, so we’ll be starting off our morning tomorrow with pop tarts. Come dinnertime, we’ll melt some cheese over those chips in the microwave for a healthy dose of protein. And obviously we’d need to stay hydrated, so we’d need plenty of soft drinks. Diet, of course!

Next stop was Harris Teeter. After a quick run through the snack aisle, it was off to the automated checkout line (no self-respecting gamer interacts with a human when a computer terminal is available). Here’s me with the salsa:

And here’s Jim with our fully loaded cart:

Next stop was the video store for some prime game rentals. I chose Madden 2005 and Tony Hawk’s Underground. Jim picked Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and James Bond: Goldeneye Rogue Agent. The clerk was quite intimidated by our plan. “You realize these are $7.50 each, don’t you?” Sounded fine to me, but what did I know. “I think I’m going to have to pre-authorize your credit card for this many games,” he went on.

“Pre-authorize away,” I said. Yeesh, I hadn’t had needed this much of a security clearance to fly halfway across the country on an Airbus A-340.

After he found our games in the front-desk safety vault and made us sign two separate forms, we were on our way. Here’s Jim with his stash of contraband:

Twenty minutes later we were back home. Jim showered (he won’t have time for that tomorrow), and I went to work on the guacamole (I won’t have time for that tomorrow). Six avocados, two limes, and half a jar of salsa later, here’s what I came up with:

Mmmmmm… slimy green food!

Note to chefs following along at home: 6 avocados pretty much maxes out the capacity of a Kitchen Aid food processor. More later.

Vidsanity preparation: the technology. 9:57 p.m.
Normally Jim’s only allowed to use the GameCube upstairs, but for this special event it seemed appropriate to move to a larger venue. Our amp has a set of “auxiliary video” ports on the front, which I hoped meant no crawling in the tangle of wires behind our media cabinet. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. After we plugged the console in, we had audio but no video. I found a flashlight and peeked back into the nether regions of our home entertainment system. Finally I found a jack labeled “video” on the back of the amp. I found an old video cable in the upstair closet and plugged it into the jack on the amp and then into the back of the TV. Soon we were up and running. Fortunately Jim didn’t think to take my picture while I was back there.

Naturally Jim wanted to “test” the system to make sure it “worked.” After 3 minutes watching him play Pokemon, I can assure you there is NO WAY we will be playing THAT game tomorrow. I think we’ll need to implement a system where he picks a game for an hour, then I pick, and so on throughout the day.

Here’s a picture of Jim with our setup. That’s a 48-inch Hitachi big screen TV. Not too bad, with the surround sound.

Vidsanity: Pop Tarts, Ho! Saturday, February 26, 5:08 a.m.

At 4:58 a.m., Jim and I enjoy a nutricious breakfast before getting started. Jim is in charge for the first hour; he wants to play WWE: Day of Reckoning. We’re off and running.

There was a bit of self doubt as the alarm went off at 4:55, but now the adrenaline is starting to kick in. I think my six hours of sleep last night ought to be enough to hold me over for 24 hours. I guess we’ll see.

Vidsanity: Fake fake sports. 5:34 a.m.

What’s it like to compete in a fake sport? I imagine much more interesting than playing the video game. The problem with pro “wrestling” is that the players aren’t really fighting. They’re stunt men, and they’re expending enormous effort trying NOT to hurt the other guy. In video pro wrestling, there are no such concerns, which makes it bizarrely surreal. You mean I’m supposed to “fight” this guy? What about all those moments during a wrestling match when one wrestler lies on the floor “stunned” so the other guy can sling him over his shoulder, climb up on the turnbuckle, and then take him down with a double-twisting flip? How does the game action work then? Turns out, you really are stunned, so the other guy can simply have his way with you — you have no defense. What’s the point of playing a game if you can’t actually control your character? I think I’ve successfully talked Jim into playing a new game.

Vidsanity: Victory at last 9:00 a.m.
After several humiliating defeats in WWE: Day of Reckoning and Super Smash Bros, we finally started to play some games on MY turf: Madden 2005 and Tony Hawk’s Underground. Surprisingly, even though Jim doesn’t even know the rules of football, he did manage to keep up with me for a while, but eventually I managed to prevail. Here’s Jim after a hard-fought loss to the Atlanta Falcons on a cold Charlotte December:

The Agony of Defeat

My left index finger is now definitely starting to feel the wear after 4 hours of gaming. Jim claims he’s starting to feel soreness in the right thumb. Typing is quite difficult in this condition, but I’ll attempt to soldier on in the interest of keeping an accuract record of our epic struggle.

UPDATE: Argh! I left the camera on and now we’re out of battery power. It might be a few hours before there are more pictures; I’ve got them in the charger now.

Dear Miss Manners. 9:06 a.m.
At what point in the morning is it appropriate to switch from Pop Tarts to chips and guacamole? Please respond quickly — it’s very important!

Vidsanity: Aches and pains. 12:43 p.m.
Here’s the injury report after 8.5 hours of solid gaming.

Aside from a vague feeling of dizziness and an overall numbness in the fingers, I’m not doing too bad. Now the biggest pain is in my right ring finger — it’s being strained by the shape of the Ninendo controllers. I can include a photo, because I just realized my wife’s camera’s here and fully charged:

stretched fingers

The way I have to hold the Nintendo controller forces me to stretch the fingers uncomfortably. I may have to modify my grip in order to continue.

I do have to say, the guacamole’s quite good at 11:30 in the morning. I dripped a big glob of it on my pants, but a paper towel took care of that.

Jim’s most definitely superior to me in all “combat” games. Those sorts of games these days involve a vast array of tricks — key combinations to release “special” moves, which I really have no knack for.

I’m holding my own in Football and in Tony Hawk, though.

Vidsanity: Almost halfway there. 3:28 p.m.
I was eliminated from a 32-character tournament in Super Smash Bros, and now Jim’s finishing off the field. Just look at this concentration:

Concentrate!

My fatigue seems to be going in waves. Not much soreness at all now; at this point the energy expenditure is more mental than anything else. We polished of an entire bag of Tostitos an hour or so ago; perhaps that has something to do with it. I was able to modify my grip on the controller so that there’s practically no fatigue on my right ring finger anymore.

So far I think my favorite game has to be Madden 2005. Does that have anything to do with the fact it’s the only game I can consistently defeat him in? Of course not — I would never be so vain as to put my success over the chance for my son to feel “empowered.”

I had to change the title of this post to “almost halfway there”: I forgot we started at 5:00, not 4:00. Still 13.5 hours of this to go!

One thing I’ve noticed… 7:22 p.m.
When you’re on the 14th hour of solid video gaming, one of the first things to go is your writing ability.

Vidsanity: a healthy meal. 11:50 p.m.
Jim shows the meal of choice for hungry gamers: Nachos with three types of dip.

Food

This meal includes all four food groups: Red, White, Green, and Yellow.

With just over five hours to go, I’ve hit the point where I need to warm up this morning’s coffee to stay alert. I think I’ll make it, but it won’t be pretty.

Vidsanity: finished! Sunday, February 27 at 5:08 a.m.
You can sense our elation as we high-five to celebrate completing 24 straight hours of video games!

hifive

And now it is time for bed.

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