Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Addictions to Stupid Games: Part 7, #1 ALL TIME

Well its time to reveal my most ridiculous addiction to a stupid game. This addiction was my first and also longest lasting as it came back multiple times. It is the classic game MINESWEEPER.

Everyone should know this game because it's on basically every PC made in the last 10 years. The game is a board of squares that are either mines or numbers. The numbers indicate how many mines border that particular square. The goal is to identify all the mines as fast as possible and press every square that isn't. If you remember back to part 1 of this series I identified 3 characteristics of these games that I get addicted to. To refresh you they are:
1) readily available, either a popular N64, PS2, Microsoft, or internet game.
2) very simple, meaning a single game from start to finish will only be a matter of minutes. None of these multiple level, ultra involved games.
3) quantitative, meaning the game keeps statistics so you can concretely compare yourself to others.

Simple, quick, available, and statistical. Minesweeper is exactly that. Every computer has it, a single game takes a minute, and you have distinct records that can be compared to other people. Also, minesweeper has 3 different board sizes; beginner, intermediate, and expert so you can play to your liking.

I still remember the first time I played minesweeper and why I played it. Sophomore year of high school Cindy was home for the summer and she was kind of into the game. I noticed her playing it a lot and started mocking her at how slow she was even though I had never played. She had a record of 420 seconds on expert and was pretty proud of that. So I started playing in an attempt to break her record...and her spirit. Within 2 days I had a record of 244 and I let Cindy have it. She never played again (at least she didn't admit to me that she did). And so the addiction grew and I quickly made it the game of my choice. Within a few weeks my record on expert lowered into the 100's and continued to descend.

During my junior year of high school I found out that my guidance counselor and my computer teacher both enjoyed minesweeper and had played quite a bit. I enjoyed competing with them but soon broke their records. I even printed out a screen shot of my best expert game of 105 seconds, framed it, and gave it to my guidance counselor as a Christmas present.

For the rest of high school I played it fairly regularly and would increase my playing every time I approached a new milestone. When I hit 99 seconds for the first time I was so excited that I ran upstairs and told my mom because she was the only one home. She pretended to care. By the end of high school my expert record was 82 seconds.

I kind of quit the game at that point because college offered new games (see addictions to stupid games: parts 1-3). But then my sophomore year at Calvin I purchased an optical mouse and replaced my old school roller-ball mouse. This revolutionized my game. I got back to my 82 form in no time and soon began breaking my records all over again. The addiction peaked that fall as I often played 2-3 hours a day. I remember beating expert 16 times in a single day at one point. I also began submitting my scores to the minesweeper websites. At my peak I was the 12th fastest active player in the world and the 69th fastest all time. To this day if you Google "Randy Elenbaas" half of the first 10 websites that come up will be from my minesweeper scores.

I still play every once in awhile but it takes so much dedication to improve any more or even to maintain. Now I just shoot for an expert score of 80 and I'm happy. My all time records are:

Beginner: 2
Intermediate: 18
Expert: 62


Anonymous Anonymous said...

so I'm way to lazy to read everything you wrote, but man your wife is hot. That is stemming from the picture of her from the trip to Rio. I'm gonna be around for a few days during christmas, I'll give ya a call so we can go out and continue our midnight bowling tradition of me beating you.

3:23 AM  

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