The Sporepedia is not complete till some desis move in

The first ever video game I ever played was a small, handheld thingie involving driving away hungry wolves from sheep grazing peacefully in a farm. When the first PC arrived at home, a mighty 386 with a whopping 4 MB RAM, I was introduced to Prince of Persia, an scrolling arcade type rescue-princess-from-evil-vizier adventure, which came on a couple of floppies from a neighbour who also gave us our first virus. After the customary reformatting and re-installation of DOS, which sort of became almost a monthly ritual till I eventually realized, thanks to my younger brother, that the trifecta of restart, reformat and reinstall as problem resolution methods was something unique to the world of Microsoft, and that there existed a world (mostly involving penguins and apples) where OS crashes and viruses were actually rarer and problems usually had logical methods of resolution. Now wait, where was I? Yeah, Prince of Persia. I wasn’t too great at playing that game. I liked to delude myself that mastering keystrokes to kill dungeon guards was not worth it. The real truth of course was that my younger siblings were much better at gaming, and at that age, having them be better than you at anything tends to rankle, and therefore, I made a tactical decision to consider video games not worth my time.

But eventually, temptation struck, and I just had to mow down aliens as Duke Nukem and shoot Nazis in Castle Wolfenstein, although I had to swallow my pride and finish these games in God mode, while my brothers were kicking gluteus maximi in “Bring em on” mode. Once I was out of my teens, and realized that beating up pedestrians and stealing cars while evading the police was more important to my life than the need to maintain a facade of disinterest in gaming, I took to Grand Theft Auto like Sehwag takes to short balls outside off stump. Ok, I mostly kept edging to the keeper, but you get my drift, right? I just liked driving around town, crushing the occasional pedestrian, trying out cheat codes, all while listening to the in-game radio stations. Brilliant stuff, especially the host of the Western classical station who jokes – “Now we have some music from the 60s……the 1760s hahaha”.

And so it continued, this on and off interest in gaming, till a few months ago, when my brother forced me to sit down and watch him play Half Life 2. The unique and immersive storyline and innovative game play convinced me that it is not a coincidence that the gaming industry is now bigger than Hollywood. Thus began a crazed attempt to catch up on all the games I had missed over the last few years. I spent a full 5 days completing Call of Duty, and for the first time, I realized what a powerful learning mechanism games can be. There is a level in the first CoD, where, as a Russian soldier being sent to war for the first time, you are instructed by your Commissar that you will be provided with ample food, weapons and ammunition. The moment you step out of the boat docking at Stalingrad, with artillery pounding away in every direction, you are handed a round of ammunition, and no gun. You need to make a mad run towards your superior officer, while suffering from shell shock and having bullets flying all around. Short of actually being at Stalingrad in 1943, this is the best possible first person WW2 experience one can go through. You may have read in your history books that the Russians were the underdogs against the more disciplined, and better equipped German army, but it’s not until I was (albeit virtually) forced to run, with 1 round ammunition and 0 gun, through the docks of Stalingrad in CoD that I truly realized what being the underdog in WW2 really meant. So please stop reading history books and start shooting Nazis with a Logitech mouse instead. It’s way more fun.

Anyway, first person shooters aside, what I am really excited about is Will Wright’s upcoming “Spore”, a highly anticipated game that promises to explore evolution in all its diverse glory using a unique engine that allows players to literally play the FSM in designing and controlling creatures and eventually building societies and entire civilizations. While I wait for the game to come out, EA has released the Creature Creator, and it seemed like a good idea to design Spore versions of different creatures we find commonly in the Indian subcontinent.

1. Medievalwarrius Hindumakkalcatchicus

This creature has a small brain, which explains its narrow minded interpretation of Indian culture, and has eyes that face backward, which explains why it has an almost unholy obsession with the past, and steadfastly refuses to look forward.

Mob behavior: As individuals, generally safe, although annoying to no end. Can be dangerous in mobs though. Possesses little or no capability for individual thinking.

Habitat: South India, especially near areas of pointless controversy, short skirts and other non-issues, that seem to attract these in large numbers.

Front view: Note the suction pad legs, designed to help it stick to non-issues.

CRE_Hindutvus Modiloverus-068a5208_sml.jpg

Back view – Note the eyes on stalks, firmly facing backward. No looking forward for these guys,

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And the moment it finds an actress wearing a short skirt, the typical response is something like this

2. Yetchwonbeeus Fanaticus

With 3 pairs of hands, all perfectly designed for typing code, email and spreadsheets, and one pair of vestigial legs, because it has little or no use for them, this creature possesses a ravenous and addictive desire for the rare fruit Yetchwonbee Visae and will go to any end to obtain one.

Mob behavior: Several members of this species gather everyday in long lines, come hell or high Cooum water, around trees that bear the Yetchwonbee fruit.

Habitat: Predominantly Andhra and TN, with smaller populations found everywhere else.

Front view – Note the 3 pairs of hands in perfect position to hit alt-tab 10,000 times a day, and the single third eye completely focussed on onsite opportunities

CRE_yetchwonbeeus-068a5206_ful.png

Side view – Note the regular pair of eyes aimed directly at the sky at all times, in constant prayer to acquire the juicy Yetchwonbee fruit.

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And this is what happens when it finds the fruit

3. Bureaucratus Underthetabli

With a specially evolved 2nd pair of hands perfectly designed to collect items (usually of the currency kind) from under pieces of furniture, this slothful scavenger species is widespread in the subcontinent.

Mob behavior: In large concentrations, this species leaves behind a sticky residue known as redtapea that has the unfortunately side effect of slowing down every other species in the neighbourhood.

Front view – Note the upper pair of hands in a permanent “I’m so busy, come later” pose. Also, the large mouth that indicates a voracious appetite for bribes.

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Side view – Note the perfectly arched body and bottom pair of hands ideal positioned perfectly for all forms of under-the-table-acceptance activities.

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And here is the typical behavior when potential bribes are sensed in the neighbourhood.

4. Politicus Kaaseythaankadavulus

With one pair hands locked in a permanent “Namaste” gesture overhead, and 2 pairs of highly evolved greedy grabbing pincers, this power-hungry species occupies the upper echelons of the food table. Its complex life cycle involves 4 stages

  • Adiyaal larva, where it does menial jobs for other members of the species in higher stages of growth
  • Kopaasay pupa, where it prints political posters praising the big boss
  • Yumellay caterpillar, when it grows big and slimy and eats everything in sight
  • Seeyem butterfly, when it makes promises, sucks the honey of votes in exchange, and then flits away.

Front view – One pair of hands in namaste posture, one pair to beg for votes, and one to greedily grab money where ever it is to be found.

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Here is a photo of an alpha male with sidekicks in various stages of growth

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Here is a short clip of what happens when a member of this species senses the presence of potential votes nearby

32 Comments

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  1. The old dos games are still available at DOS Games archive. If you are on a Mac, you can download DOS Box and try to run those. I think I tried Dave once and it worked, but didnt try anything else. Not much of a gamer these days.

  2. I missed the Prince of Persia era but got on board a few years later with Duke Nukem and the other DOS games. I was more impressed with the SNES games actually.

    And rightly said, a part of the fun in GTA was travelling those long distances with some country music on the game radio or listening to some utterly nonsensical talk show.

    I know that Call of Duty mission! The Russians were low on supplies so the guy ahead of you got the gun and you got the ammunition clip. If he died you were supposed to pick up his gun and move on.

    Looks like you are having too much fun with the creature creator. I tried it. Making a creature, spawning a few offspring and making them all dance was great awesome. Can’t wait for Spore!

  3. Sooper post…

    Oru doubt..Isnt Caterpillar the second stage in the evolution of butterfly and pupa the third stage..Anyways…never mind…Biology was never my favourite subject as well.. 🙂

    hoping to read updates from ur blog ,more often 🙂

  4. Hilarious thalaiva!

    Yetchwonbeeus Fanaticus!!!
    Their growth involves the larval stage Engineericus Prius (Collegius-Branchus-non-matterus)

    You can still play duke nukem 3d with DOSBox. Or if you have Windows, there are ports available to let you play with sound. Still play it quite often, only the multiplayer version though! It’s more fun than just killing the pig cops!

    I even had an 8088 that didn’t have a hard disk. We then got a mammoth 40MB one!

    But yes, thanks for the laughs!

  5. Hilarious post, I’m not much of a virtual gamer( I prefer the real kind 😉 ) but I remember playing Doom, I think tht’s wht it was called(The army dude killing enemies and collecting ammo & health packages as he progressed). My cousin bro had it on his computer which I conviniently hijacked when I visited 🙂

  6. Lol!! Brilliant read, as always!!

    The only level I ever played in Duke Nukem was the one where the room wud be filled with scantily clad women dancing away to glory…You just had to press the Space Bar to cough up some money and watch!!! (Didnt have a net connection back then 🙂 )

  7. ah…. COD the Russian campaign.

    That was one of the most thrilling gaming moments in my life…

    also the ending of the game…when u capture the Reichstag and u stand at the top of the building…when u stand on the edge and see the path u came through…..awesome.

    [but Counter Strike rulz….when u pwn five snipers back 2 back…..its bliss]

  8. P.S : I always felt like giving the prince a good kick on his butt to make him move a little faster.
    His eternal slow motion used to drive me up the wall.

  9. aside from the fact that i think you have way too much free time 😛 , this is a serious level post! kalakkitta machi!! 🙂

  10. I’ve played a ton of shooters, starting with Doom. That’s the Quake series, the Unreal series, the Half Life series, the three most awesome shooter series ever, in order of increasing awesomeness.

    I never have time for games these days, Spore doesn’t seem my kind of game. Maybe I will give it a try, (since I liked Age of Mythology too). 🙂

    The shooter genre is so trod on that it gets boring, and then along comes a game like Half Life 2 and reinvents the whole thing.

    Hail Gravity Gun,
    Philramble

  11. Ausam! In fact, Paratrooper Ausam!!!

    Paratrooper was the earliest game I could rmr playing! And though I don’t believe in God, I sure believe in ‘God Mode’ 😎

  12. fantabulous post boss….loved the names…and ya I remember the COD Stalingrad mission as well…one more info…Russian commanders had an MG-42 trained on their own soldiers to be fired when/if they retreat from the battlefield 😀

  13. Amazing post!!! as always! Politicus Kaaseythaankadavulus is brilliant!!
    I remember those days playing games with those huge floppies..I was initially addicted to bricks, and then came Dave & Prince of Persia, our once a week computer class lab was reserved for only these!! 🙂

  14. Duh?
    Sigh. The lone non-adulatory voice here.

    But why, I wonder, are more young adults than children playing these … uh… ‘games’ ?
    Ashok:Because they are more participatory than a passive activity like watching movies. Most games are pointless, but some are truly brilliant. Call of Duty was one example. And Spore has the potential to be one of the all time greats.

  15. Perhaps. But I’d contrast gaming not with movie-watching or book-reading (which I suppose you’d also call passive) but with physical games. That’s why I put games within quotes. 🙂
    @KA:

    Despite reading (and being fascinated by) Shelly Turkle’s Life on the Screen, I’m still not convinced that these virtual thingies are participatory. But then I’m on thin ice here, having never gamed. (What these virtual thingies are doing to English nouns and verbs, I tell you!)
    Ashok:Hehe. You mean they are totally fragging and pwning it?

  16. Hi Ashok,

    Awesome post as always

    A friend of mine introduced me to ur blog…& am addicted 🙂

    The combination of funny anecdotes, cool language & witty humour is just AMAZING

    “I took to Grand Theft Auto like Sehwag takes to short balls outside off stump. Ok, I mostly kept edging to the keeper, but you get my drift, right?”

    are priceless gems

    Just like you, i have never got passionate about gaming myself, but watched in awe as my younger brother, mastered fifa & euro, & started playing awesome soccer on the pc(just as he does in real life), while i would try to read a novel or readers digest, while maintaining the facade of “games are for kids”

    But reading ur post has kindled a desire to give them a shot….
    well, LAN games where u team with up smbdy on the internet, & play against other players on the internet, all the while, deciding strategy & moves, using the headset, seem to be the latest rage.

    cheers
    ashish

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