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[Comments] (3) : Here's the kind of unrelenting journalism we need to see more of. Semi-relatedly, I'd be very interested to hear other peoples' schoolyard video game folklore. The ones I remember are so generic I'm not even sure they actually happened: allegations that finishing a game let you see such-and-such female character nude (we were young, and ignorant of Standards and Practices), bald assertions that you'd accomplished impossible feats.

It seems like the sort of memory that would be really interesting, but when I look back I don't see any inventive lies or interesting legends. It's like we didn't even know how to BS properly. Prove me wrong, fellow nerds.


Posted by Kevan at Sun Apr 20 2008 06:28

A ten-year-old friend of mine just about convinced me that he'd written Pyjamarama on the Spectrum, and would thoughtfully copy down random bits of hex noise from the screen when it crashed.

Online cheat guides are full of extraordinary claims, particularly for older games, back when making up a cheat was an easy way to get your name added to a BBS cheat compilation. They usually have cautionary, memetically-sound clauses to resist any casual disproof by their publisher - if jumping over the balloon on the fourth rooftop doesn't unlock flying-robot-dragon 3D-graphics mode, then you must just be doing it wrong, and should keep trying.

Posted by Kris Straub at Mon Apr 21 2008 18:26

When I was a freshman in high school, I was kind of an outcast and had befriended this guy who had a million lies about those kinds of things. He was this Asian guy with think glasses and some trace of an accent, but he had a very French name.

Many of his lies were about his sexual exploits. He had developed a code language for geography class, so he could tell me about how much he'd gotten laid the night before, using names of states instead of body parts. "I grabbed her Texas and my Florida got rock-hard" -- I suppose any teacher would have believed it was studying.

Anyway, his other major arena for lies was video games and computers. I used Ami Pro 3.0 as my word processor at the time, and he tried to convince me he had Ami Pro 6. He had a modem that worked faster than the fastest modem (38.8K? Try 78.8), and he frequently did impossible things in games (come to think of it, those things often let him see sex or nudity where none should exist, i.e. a code that lets you see Mario bang the Princess after you find her in 8-8.)

His greatest triumph (failure?) of lie-weaving started when we were talking about Space Quest 4. I still had my disks, but I lost the booklet with the copy protection. He said he had an extra booklet. All year I asked him to bring it. At some point I realized everything he said was a lie, and I just asked him about different things, to see how deep he'd go. There was no bottom.

Finally towards the end of the year I told him I didn't believe that he had the copy protection, and that it was okay. He didn't have to lie to me. But he insisted he did and would bring it Monday.

Monday rolled around. I caught up with him and asked him for it. He said "Oops, I don't have it... just kidding! I had you there!" and pulled out a folded up stack of papers from his backpack.

He had forged the booklet. The whole thing.

He had written up a fake story for Space Quest 4. He had clearly played it before, but didn't really remember the story. The game instructions were wrong too. Most importantly, he also drew out the copy protection grid of symbols in ASCII (of course, completely useless and incorrect).

He wouldn't admit that he'd made it, even though I repeatedly said it was okay. I kind of just thanked him and wandered off to my finals. I don't think I spoke to him again.

Posted by Zack at Mon Apr 21 2008 22:46

I don't remember anyone telling lies about actual video games in middle school (I may just not have been paying attention, as I had none of the games that were popular). There was this one guy, though. who continually spun lies about the video game he was writing.

It started out as this vaguely plausible sprite-based adventure game in the style of Ultima, and he got a lot of us middle-school nerds into helping him draw up level maps and invent bosses. However, he kept adding game features and graphical flourishes, until it became apparent to even the most credulous listener that he had no idea what was actually possible on IBM PCs in 1992. If I remember correctly, the gameplay ended up as sort of a cross between a fighting game and a first person shooter. In full, photorealistic 3D. Plus the adventure plot and associated complicated scripts, NPC dialogue (voice acted, of course), clever enemy AI, ...

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