Termination: Game On
Text:/ Graeme Hague
Normally I ignore puzzles. My logic is I see little sense in frustrating the hell out of myself any more than a normal day will achieve – I own an iPad, for a start. The other day on the telly there was a news bite about a bloke juggling three Rubik’s Cubes and solving them during the act. That manages to be really impressive and really ridiculous at the same time, and you have to wonder what the guy might have accomplished in the real world if he’d applied that amount of dedication to something useful like solving cold fusion or a perpetual motion machine. The Nobel Prize is worth about a million bucks these days whereas a decent juggler can earn maybe five bucks from busking on a sunny day. The maths is pretty obvious.
I’ve never attempted to solve a Rubik’s Cube. I also don’t give a damn Where Wally Is and I consider doing cryptic crosswords worse than water-boarding.
So you may ask why I’d subject myself to the mental torture of – as I mentioned above – owning an iPad? Well, it gets worse.
ONE MAN BORE
Let me take you back about 200 years when I used to manage a Tandy shop. It was a one-man store and wasn’t a hard gig because I was rarely troubled by customers. The Tandy business model seemed to discourage selling anything by not stocking products that anyone actually wanted. On a normal day my biggest problem was boredom. Serious boredom, like when the minute hand of the clock refuses to move.
One area where Tandy did lead the pack was in selling computers. My store wasn’t a specialist computer outlet but most Tandy shops had a computer or two on the floor. This solved the boredom a bit. Did I become a self-taught IT expert? Don’t be silly, I played games. These were text-based puzzles on a green screen (a revelation in itself) that put you inside a room and you had to find a treasure, or a way out – you know the concept. Simple text commands like ‘open door’ might prompt, ‘the door is locked’ and you’d have to go searching for a key. This is where I first learned to shout and rage at a computer monitor – and hate puzzles.
I can’t believe that today I’m doing it all again. Not only am I yelling at an inanimate (sort of) object in the form of an iPad screen, but I’m searching for clues in a virtual maze.
In my defence, the iPad has inveigled its way deep into the technological world and you simply can’t write for magazines like AV (and our sister publications AudioTechnology and Guerrilla Guide to Recording & Music Production) without having one. Products are being designed from scratch with an accompanying controlling app in mind. Software will have a sibling app that contributes to the overall features and functions of the program [See the News section of this very magazine – Ed]. Owning an iPad became a necessity to do this job – all part of Apple’s evil plan to rule the universe.
What wasn’t a part of my plan has been how the damned thing has so quickly and insidiously wormed itself into my daily life. It sits on the kitchen bench first thing in the morning checking emails, because I’m in WA and my bosses are all in the east and on their fourth coffee, gearing up for a long lunch, before I’ve even found the toaster. The iPad is my go-to television guide, sports score checker, weather forecaster and music streaming device. In my studio the iPad controls my main computer – which is kind of bizarre really, software to run software – and offers some amazing musical instruments.
You’d think I’d be all iPadded-out at the end of the day, but no – I’ve also discovered a game. Can you believe it, it’s a bloody puzzle game called The Room. You have to find secret symbols and gadgets and stuff to figure out the puzzles and normally I wouldn’t touch it with a virtual barge pole. Unfortunately, damn it, with nostalgic memories of that long-ago Tandy computer game that staved off madness from boredom, I’m hooked. Of course, I could just use the hints and tips to finish the game quickly, but that’s for limp-wristed, lamington-baking wimps wearing aprons, not real men.
Not until you own an iPad can you truly understand the potential, not to mention Steve Jobs’ creative vision. Still, no one really saw this coming – the iPad revolution I mean – so how can anyone possibly see where it’s all going to go? We can only guess at a few small things and the rest is a mystery. For example, the television remote control will soon be extinct, replaced by an app, which means my wife will have nothing to chuck during the football. We’re heading for an existence where an iOS device in the home or office will be as ubiquitous as the remote control has been for the last 20 years. Some people say that’s already happened, while non-believers scoff at the idea. Wait till they have to buy an iPad.
Two things are certain. The next millionaire is whoever figures out a clever use for recycled iPads – and I still hate puzzles, to which I can now add app puzzles. Especially ones I can’t stop puzzling over.