Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Overload, Pleasure Overload

I've wasted a bit of time playing the greatest video game ever, GTA-Vice City, over the last couple of years, but I still haven't played its sequel, GTA-San Andreas.

The exuberant violence of these games is a great stress-reliever.

Roomie, however, being a much bigger gamer than I, has had it a while now and is, of course, addicted. By his account the music and layout isn't as good as Vice City. But the vehicles are better. Oh, yeah, I say, how?

Well, he told me, one can steal a combine, run over pedestrians and cops with it, scoop them up in the header, and spew chunks of their bodies out the back (through the straw chopper).

OMG. I must play this game!

Growing up on a farm, with such heavy and imposing machinery around, one's imagination as a child ran wild -- with fear and awe, mostly.

Later, as a teenager and young adult, since I was scrawny and limber, I was most often designated as "monkey", the guy who climbed onto and into the frame and guts of these steel beasts to fix what I was told to fix. I'm fairly claustrophobic, so this was definitely a creepy experience. What if some nutter started this thing up while I'm in here?

Farming's incredibly dangerous -- a cousin's cousin was nearly killed a few years ago whilst working on a planter's marker arm. Most accidents on the farm, I'd guess, are caused by open driveshafts: we were all shown this gruesome scenario in an FFA film. I know a guy who lost a leg from a cabless tractor accident. An in-law's brother was killed by a cabless Massey flipping over on him. I know a local old man whose John Deere MT model flipped on top of him, pinning him for a long while and tearing his guts up real good. While riding on the fender of a JD 4020, my own leg was grabbed by the tire and pulled underneath the fender; thankfully, the tractor wasn't going too fast, and I grabbed hold on the seat tight and screamed for the driver to stop before the tire could pull me off. Danger, danger. (Fortunately, we didn't have the sorts of silos that are common on most farms, so the scary scenes in Witness and Dark Night of the Scarecrow weren't so nightmare-inducing as they might have been.)

Therefore it's with a certain bravado that I want to play that game. To sort of sneer at the fear that is ground into one who has grown up on the farm. I was about 7 or 8 when I first did something stupid but liberating in response to this fear. While my grandfather was working the field around the house, I ran out and grabbed a plow on the last row of the implement, letting it drag me on my belly through the soft earth. It was such a rush. I got in trouble, of course, but now I can tell that it was hard for him to really get on my case since he saw what a blast I was having. I was just forbidden to do it again. Sure, GTA-San Andreas is just a game, but the psychological purpose remains.

Here's a screenshot of the combine; it looks like a 6600 with a 30ft header somehow stuck on it -- the better, presumably, for scooping up baddies.