Skiing, Yetis, and Windows 3.1

2006-08-28

in Geek stuff

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.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica August 28, 2006 at 7:16 pm

“There were no multiple levels or screens
it was just one screen *forever*
And you could never win,
the game just kept getting harder and faster
until you died.
Just like life.”

http://www.ernestcline.com/spokenword/When_I_Was_A_Kid-Ernie_Cline.mp3

Milan August 28, 2006 at 7:35 pm

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.

Jessica August 28, 2006 at 7:36 pm

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?”

Jessica August 28, 2006 at 7:37 pm

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.

Milan August 28, 2006 at 7:49 pm

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…

Anonymous August 28, 2006 at 7:53 pm

“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
worse.

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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