Friday, January 27, 2012

Game Noise

My ascension into the sports replay game obsession I have is in a direct inversion to the noise that the game makes. As I progressed through the years, the games got quieter.

And I have my father to thank for that.

My first delving into games was during the Christmas season in 1969. I asked for, and received, an electric baseball game, which those of you who have played it recognize it as one of the loudest games created.

It was made out of metal and featured small magnetic baseballs. Since I was an only child, I couldn’t pitch to myself with the game so instead I placed the ball at home plate, pulled a plastic lever to draw a bat back and then let ‘er rip. The ball would crash either into the outfield wall or on the field itself with a metallic ‘clank’ akin to the noise a car crusher makes in a junkyard. It sounded like l was throwing rocks at a barn made of tin siding. Looking back, I'm sure my parents would rather have had me develop an interest in quieter avocations like jack hammering or machine gun sport shooting.

I’d turn the power on and the electric baseball field would vibrate to make the runner move around the bases. A small cup mounted on the end of a spring atop the center field wall was the outfielder, and the player would pull the cup back and release it, throwing the ball to a base.

So, the game consisted of a continuous “Clank, whirr, clank” that eventually drove my father over the edge. I was mandated to only play the game when he was at work. I guess I could have gotten a 50-foot extension cord and taken it outside when he was home, but I didn't think of that at the time.

When I switched to the dice games that I play now, I believe my father was relieved — to a point. But at first, I used a plastic dice shaker that rattled the two dice used in the APBA games and that clacked loudly as well. I often played late into the night; as a high school student, I worked as a dishwasher and cook at a local bar and restaurant and came home late. I’d have to unwind before sleeping so I’d play a game or two well past midnight. The dice noise often woke my father.

It was he who suggested I forego the plastic cup and simply role the dice in my hand. It eliminated the noise. I even use a computer mouse pad now for the dice to tumble on to soften the noise.

It’s a technique I’ve used for some 35 years now and I’m sure I’ll keep doing that. Now, living alone, I could fire the dice out of a cannon into a pile of broken glass and no one would hear it.

Instead, maybe as a nod to my father’s influence so many years ago, I continue playing the games quietly.

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