14 April 2000

Today I stopped by to see the kids. Lauren called last night about wanting me to do some scanning for her, and I went by to find out what the project was. While I was there, she showed me a stupid computer game called WinBricks. It's a "paddle" game, like the ancient Pong game in that one has to return a bouncing ball by blocking it with a paddle which moves from side to side of the bottom of the screen, but in this game the returned bouncing ball destroys a wall of bricks as it hits them. And, of course, this game is much more sophisticated, with additional elements of bombs and paralyzing lightning bolts and proliferating balls. Some of these elements must be avoided by the paddle; others the paddle must hit. And there is sound, too. Nowadays there's always sound.

I watched Lauren play a few games, then she went off to talk on the phone. (At almost twelve if she's not on the computer, she's on the phone.) I was left alone with the computer and tried the game. I like mindless coordination games and I found this one soothing. And the ponk... ponk... ponk sound wasn't too distracting. I played until Sarah and her mother got back from the dentist. (Lauren was still on the phone.) Sarah asked to play then, and I ceded my place to her. Susan, my sister-in-law, and I talked of this and that to the background beat of Sarah's play...

Tonight I decided to search the Internet for the game-- or some free version of it that I could play online or download. Conjuring up Dogpile, an old favorite of a search engine, turned up an interesting applet version of "Bricks."

In this version, the bouncing ball must destroy the wall of bricks obscuring the bustline of a picture of the torso of a swimsuit model in a red bikini. As the bricks are destroyed the picture is revealed. Using one's mouse, one moves the cursor to move the paddle. Each time the ball hits the paddle (or the other way 'round) or the boundary of the frame, a resounding drumbeat sounds; each time a brick is destroyed a note like the clank of a horseshoe on the metal stake sounds. At first I found this noise very distracting. But, as I continued to play, I began to appreciate the varying rhythm of the drumming and clanking. In fact, I really started to get into it...

I kept playing. At the next level the picture changed. Now the bricks obscured the bustline of a torso wearing a pink string bikini top and unbuttoned jeans, and the beat of the drumming was faster, and I was really getting into the game and the sound...

I couldn't get to the next level. The requisite coordination just wasn't in me. And, after a bunch of tries, the dopey applet had loaded up my system so much that it froze and I finally had to reboot.

I don't know what the torso would've been wearing at level three, but my guess is that, on some subsequent level the torso would've been naked behind that brick wall.

I've been wondering whether I should've been insulted by this site. It's run by a bunch of bikers-- motorcycle afficionados, albeit Harley afficionados. But still, probably the kind of guys I used to work with at the motorcycle shop many moons ago... good guys, mostly, but, well, not many of them could recognize my face if they met me on the street.

These guys, the "BustOut" guys, did quote Groucho Marx-- "We took pictures of the native girls, but they weren't developed--so we're going back next year to see how they're coming along." They can't be all bad, can they?

There are some who would say it is exploitation of the worst kind, what with the focus being only on headless female torsos, breasts and bodies depersonalized, women degraded as sexual objects...

The truth is, it didn't bother me. And my first reaction wasn't to be insulted or affronted. In fact, the sight that greeted me on the site reminded me of my youth when I spent many a pleasant hour perusing Dad's Playboy, looking at the pictures of the pretty ladies, reading the funny cartoons, marveling at words and concepts I'd never seen in print before...

But, as I think back on the game now, I think I would've liked the game better if the women had had heads. Then I would've felt I was playing a game with a pretty girl, a person who was enjoying the game, too. I think there is something to be said for keeping sex personal. We aren't-- none of us, male or female-- merely organs, separate from personalities. We're people. Whole people. And we should always remember that, no matter what games we play.

But the drumming was cool. Maybe even relaxing. But take a look. Play. Listen. See what you think: Brothershead Bustout!, A Comic Devoted to Those Who Love Motorcycles.

I wonder if anyone out there has a game with pictures of semi-naked men...


Copyright © 2000 New Moon


I found a couple of adaptable applet versions, and I've played around with them myself, doing some customizing...

In all fairness to the guys at BrothersHead, I have to tell you that it's the spacial restrictions of the applet that forced them to crop the pictures of the pretty girls the way they did. In fact, the cropping was a good solution to their "problem" of how to get the bricks to obscure the right part of the background pictures. See, once you start considering, you realize that the brick wall's position is fixed near the top of the playing field, and if the pretty girls had heads, the bricks would obscure their faces, instead of-- which is fine, I can hear some of you saying. Uncovering the pretty faces would be fun, too. But, admit it: obscured faces isn't half as interesting. ...

If the guys at BrothersHead-- or I-- had the ambition and the expertise, we could change the position of the bricks on the playing field and make the game more PC. But, if if's and and's were pots and pans, we'd have no need of tinkers, would we?

Lauren has informed me that, at level three, the lady is wearing a yellow bikini top and unbuttoned jeans.


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