Skiing, Yetis, and Windows 3.1

Being a fairly computer-friendly crew, I am sure many readers will remember the venerable Windows 3.1 operating system. Many will also be likely to remember the greatest game ever produced for that OS: SkiFree, created by Chris Pirih. The game was notable not for graphics or gameplay (your little sprite would descend ski tracks of various varieties, avoiding obstacles) but because of how it ended. Without fail or exception, the player would always be devoured by a yeti after skiing far enough.

Now, the video game that cannot be won has a long history. There is no beating Tetris – only delaying failure – and the same is true for an enormous number of relatively simple games, which generally become faster and more difficult as they progress. The most addictive contemporary example is probably Bejeweled. The choice to end SkiFree through the fangorious devouring of the player was a particularly bold and, dare I say, brilliant move. Indeed, it is the only reason I have the slightest recollection of having played it.

My experience with this game may also partly explain why I continue to find Yetis such amusing creatures.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

6 thoughts on “Skiing, Yetis, and Windows 3.1”

  1. Jessica,

    You must admit that you’ve never seen a game of Dance Dance Revolution end with the player being propelled down the throat of a ferocious Yeti.

  2. Oh, and I do remember Windows 3.1, which is probably why I am biased against Windows to this day. I learned to use computers on those little black and white Mac Classics, and never used a Windows machine until I went away to college. I remember my frustration at not being able to drag and drop files. “What the hell is this File Manager crap? Why can’t I just drag the file to where I want it?”

  3. No, but then again, I’ve never watched anyone play DDR in the Himalayas. For all I know it might be a common ending to the game.

  4. Jessica,

    Windows 3.1 is what you had to use in the rare cases where DOS wouldn’t run the program you wanted.

    Ah, DOS 6…

  5. “At first, I just did it on weekends, with my friends, you
    know? We never wanted to hurt anyone. The girls loved it.
    We’d all sit around the computer and do a little DOS. It was
    just a kick. At least that’s what we thought. Then it got

    It got so I’d had to do some DOS during the weekdays. After a while,
    I couldn’t even wake up in the morning without having that crave to go
    do DOS. Then it started affecting my job. I would just have to do it
    during my break. Maybe a Mode command or two. I eventually started
    doing DOS just to get through the day. Of course, it screwed up my mind
    so much that I couldn’t even function as a normal cat. DOS got me fired
    from my job.

    I’m lucky today. I’ve overcome my DOS problem. It wasn’t easy. If
    you’re smart, just don’t start. Remember, if a weirdo in a blue suit
    offers you some DOS, just say no.”

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