As I’ve mentioned before, I occasionally host an event at my house that involves staying up really late playing video games from the 80s and 90s and listening to 80s and 90s music. I did that last night. At one point I was playing two player Dr. Mario with my friend, whom I’ll call “Adhafera.” Dr. Mario is a puzzle game first released for the NES in 1990, with subsequent rereleases on many other Nintendo consoles. The object of the game is to match up colors in little pill-shaped pieces in order to kill viruses. This game is often placed in a category similar to other block-moving games, like Tetris, and other games that involve matching pieces, like Candy Crush. In the two player game, two players go head to head to see who can clear their viruses first, and special combo moves in which more than one row of pieces is cleared result in garbage blocks being dropped on the other player’s game, making it harder for them to clear.
Adhafera came to my last retro gaming party two months ago, with his girlfriend. For most of the time they were there, they were playing games together. I felt bad when they left, because I had hardly talked to them, and they came from 30 miles away. This time, his girlfriend was not with him. So at one point, I joined him for a two player game of Dr. Mario. Adhafera is way better at Dr. Mario than me. Usually I have to play about four or five levels below him (i.e., I get fewer viruses) in order for it to be competitive.
And this time, I got a chance to talk to him more. We talked about life. We shared stories from our respective childhoods and younger years. I told him about my struggles at church and the new church I’ve been going to. We talked about the sports fan cultures at our respective almae matres. I told him about the novel I’ve been writing off and on (more off than on) since mid-2014. And I didn’t do too well at Dr. Mario. He swept me 3 games to 0 most rounds. I think once, maybe twice, he won 3-1.
At one point he asked if the talking was distracting me from winning. It might have been. But I said, “I think getting to talk is more important in the long run than winning.”
Because it is.