On Making Video Game Fantasies Into Reality

I’ve escaped the Matrix

Time To Read: 4 mins | March 24, 2017

Right now, I’m wearing a plain black t-shirt and tan khaki pants. My hair is down, and I just trimmed my patchy facial hair into a swashbuckly goatee.

This will be important later.

I’ve been in Bogota for two days. Nothing super notable has happened; I eat cheap street food, drink a maize-based liqueur called chicha that’s basically the South American equivalent of kava, and I discovered my new favorite game:

Tejo is like horseshoes, except instead of curvy metal bars, you throw 2 lb stones; and instead of aiming at a small metal pole, you’re trying to hit large packets of gunpowder stuck in a mud board. The goal, then, is to make stuff blow up.

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And while it’s not required that you’re cross-eyed drunk while playing, the locals will force-feed you tequila the entire game.

If you tried to set up a game of drunken exploding rock toss at a bar in the US, you’d be carted off to jail faster than the Subway guy hiding in the ball pit at Chuckee Cheese’s. Which is why I love it.

All of this, mind you, was unplanned. It popped into my head that Bogota might be fun for a few days, so I ran with it and have been making my itinerary up as I go along. And not having plans is quite helpful when you’re recovering from a fifth of cheap tequila, plus minor burns on both hands.

Now though, since I’m in recovery mode this morning, I’m doing a bit of work. Catching up on a number of pieces owed to a few different outlets. And while I mainly do food, drink, and travel these days, I occasionally write video game content as well.

I’ve mentioned this before, but my teenage obsession was a game called Runescape. For those of you who actually had a life in middle and high school, it’s basically a simpler version of World of Warcraft. And if you’re so cool that you don’t even know what that is, you control a character in a magical fantasy world whom you train to fight monsters and get armor and weapons and finish quests and yada yada yada.

I’m of mixed opinions on games like this – these days, anyway. This thought is nothing new or profound, but while they’re a pleasant distraction for a bit, you can end up sinking literally thousands of hours into an alternate reality. Your digital character may be all-powerful and conqueror of a dozen life-or-death ordeals, but the only skill you advance in real life is finger strength and, typically, pimple count. In only the rarest of cases does this attract the opposite sex.

As a million commentators have pointed out before me, if you spend all your time in one of these games, you miss out on the magic of real life. You only experience your fantasies in a non-real universe.

I, however, have transcended this digital boundary, and made one of my (dullest) fantasies a reality.

It must be said that this morning, sitting with both a beer and a cup of coffee, isn’t the first time I’ve realized this. It was a few years back when I noticed I’d unconsciously absorbed part of my fictional character into my actual self.

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It definitely wasn’t always so; I didn’t always look like a knight from Medieval Times.

Back in college I was, by turns, a very respectable steak head and an incredibly idiotic frat boy. It was only after graduation that I started physically morphing into The Dude.

But if you’d been studying the signs from my younger years, and combined those signals with a late-in-life penchant for doing whatever the hell pops in my head, perhaps my current look was predictable. I now present a picture of what my character looked like in a computer game called Runescape, dating all the way back to the year 2000*:

I’m wearing a plain black t-shirt and tan khaki pants. My hair is down, and my facial hair is a swashbuckly goatee.

* – because I’m one hundred million percent sure someone’s going to point this out, no, that screenshot isn’t from the year 2000. In the spirit of sharing this anecdote, I spent half an hour recovering my account details this morning. I haven’t played in years — and speaking of, if anyone wants the 300k in my bank account, just ask.

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photo: he woke up roughly .3 seconds later and smiled at me, but that picture was fuzzy. puntarenas, costa rica

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.
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Stories from abroad by Malcolm Freberg. All the joy and scares and barely believable nonsense you can find after stepping out your front door, and some other written work besides. Gratuitous drinking mentions throughout.
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