Pearls from the The Plumb

6 March 2016

EDITION FIVE: WHY WE GAME

Jimbo "The" Plumb has been battling in the tournaments for a longer time than is probably considered healthy. He is the master of Sensible Soccer, shocking on Sonic and a general legend.

Now he puts down his controller and picks up his pen and offers us his views, wisdom, opinions and rants on the topics dearest to his heart... these are the Pearls of the The Plumb.

The Plumb is a big fan of cheese and his favourite Disney character is Robin Hood. In this latest edition, The Plumb gives us an insight as to why we game and, frankly, we have no idea what he's talking about.

Itís been a while. The last Megadrive Championship was a couple of years ago now, and while no doubt the shouts of triumph and the moans of agony still haunt the Bramcote Memorial Arena, the sight of 16 bit graphics fades into a distant memory. Do people still play those games, alone, holed up in darkened rooms surrounded by empty crisp packets and coffee jars, or are the cartridges left to decay in the baking British sun?

Well, I would imagine the answer is the latter, but letís not dwell on that. I wanted to take this opportunity to drag you on a trip down memory lane, but to do so we must start at the very beginning, asking that age old question, Why? Or more accurately, Who? Now donít get me wrong, Iím an engineer not a philosopher. Iím distinctly unreligious (Donít take that as me telling you what to believe, I just know what I believe) so this question comes from a cold, scientific angle. ďWhere the hell are you going with this, Plumb?Ē you may be yelling, and rightly so. Letís stop the ramble and get on with it. Did mankind begin with organisms crawling out of the great soup? Was it some celestial being just having a laugh, or was it a bunch of dudes in togas playing a crazy game of chess? In short, no. You could liken our world to a game of Sim City or Civilisation. Not The Sims though. Quite why you would want to watch a dude go to pretend work then pretend sleep I donít know. Anyway, back to the point.

The Earth was a blank canvas. Just endless tundra, trees and water. Then the game cartridge hit the slot, the connection pins firing their data into the processor and the logo screen was displayed. And ĎStart New Gameí was thence displayed. Did you ever feel like one of those tiny people who just wander from home to work, work to pub and pub to fight every single rotation of the sun? Well this is why. Natural disasters are the product of the program, of course, and if Godzilla should appear then you know the difficulty setting is too high.

Enough of this, moving on. Mankind had his humble beginnings, living in mud huts, probably fashioning control pads out of rocks, and staring endlessly at the log in the corner. Somehow he survived this early stage and moved on to building houses from stone. Some men decided they were born Ďbetterí than others and took to living in castles and telling others what to do. Quite how they got away with that one Iím not overly sure. If I told my boss I was taking his car because I was a king, Iím fairly sure I wouldnít have a job for long.

So the Kings and lords took from their people. The first potato based games console was developed to much excitement, but turned out to be quite the flop when the flagship game failed to produce a memorable character. Also, the idea of waving carrots about for intuitive movement was never going to catch on.

Many years passed, and people found other ways to pass the time, be it killing each other in war, inventing useless things like medicine, or drinking copious amounts of Meade. Then one day a man had an argument with his wife. He stormed out of the kitchen, leaving the sink full of unwashed pots, and went to find solace in his shed where several projects were lying unfinished. In his rage he threw them together into a strange hodge podge of parts, and hooked them up to an old TV that he had out there. The screen flickered into life and suddenly, accompanied by a shiny blue logo, a voice announced ďSega!Ē and a theme tune started to play. He looked at the mess of electronics, toaster parts and fishfingers and noticed there was a hedgehog wandering innocently among the tangled wires. Suddenly there was a spark and a flash and the hedgehog was gone. He looked at the screen to see a wide eyed blue character with spikes wagging an accusatory finger.

Many days later the man was discovered by his wife, long stubble covering his chin and dark circles under his eyes. She found the only way to get him inside was to turn off the power to the shed. Of course she had learnt her lesson and would never ask him to wash the pots again, but for the man a discovery had been made.

Anything anyone tells you about Atari, Nintendo or anything else is a lie. This is the true story of the beginning of console gaming. That man sold his idea to the nation of Japan who mass marketed the product. Some nerdy lads in the Nottinghamshire area fell in love with that product and a legend was born. A legend that has spent the last two years dormant, like some leviathan, waiting to rise again and take control of the globe.

So when you wake up on the morning of the next Megadrive Championships, be it in England, Portugal, Germany or wherever, remember where it all started. Remember that you could be waving carrots around for five hours if not for the ingenuity of one man and a hedgehog. And never forgot the person who requires the most credit... The wife.

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