From the old 8-bit side-scroller, to the latest RPG epic, most video games have some aspects that would translate well in the here and now. Some are obvious, like save points, pause and extra lives. But beyond those, there are hundreds of other video game tropes that need to shift from their pixelated screens and into our physical world. Here are a few examples:
Obviously flimsy, but utterly impenetrable doors and windows.
Common in linear games, they reveal rooms or objects you need to reach, without letting you deviate from the preset path. That pane of semi-shattered glass between you and the security key in the other room? A spray of bullets ought to take that out. Hell, a spray of Windex. But, no, not even a rattle. Same thing with blown apart doors hanging off their hinges, or nailed up barricades made of three rotting 2 x 4s. A point blank shot with the same weapon that took out a tank earlier barely leaves a mark. Particularly nasty designers leave the door or window unscathed, and YOU are killed by the blowback. I’d like to install these marvels of structural integrity on my home. They’d thwart any burglar or zombie horde, and I’d probably save a fortune on my heating and cooling bills.
Ability to carry a ridiculous amount of weapons and equipment.
I wish I could sling around grocery bags, luggage or lift furniture with the ease most video he-man haul their gear. Max Payne and Nathan Drake tote around more firearms and ammo than an NRA open-carry demonstration. Sure, some games have inventory limits, but c’mon. You’d need some serious guns to carry all those guns. Rifles, pistols, bazookas, oh my! Let’s not forget the assorted knives, swords, artifacts, hidden objects and medi-packs. Plus all the clothing for six different unlocked outfits. How many pounds are we at now? These strongmen should give up their dangerous day jobs and become Olympic weightlifting gold medalists in the clean and jerk.
Perform a leap 3 times your own height by bouncing off a turtle.
Just think if we could stomp on a Koopa like Mario and get a vertical jump that would make a college basketball scout weep. Finally, a way to replace your cumbersome, hard-to-store stepladders with one space-saving turtle! Need to change a recessed light bulb in the vaulted ceiling? BOING! No problem. Loose shingle on the roof? BOING! You’re there in seconds. Of course the little guy would carom around your house each time like a turbo-charged, short-circuited Roomba, but that’s the trade off of convenience. He’d make a great pet, too. “Billy, when you’re done playing with Yertle, bring him out here. Daddy needs to clean the gutters.”
In this case, “health bars” does not mean those hipster Vegan joints in SoHo offering seaweed shakes. No, I’m talking about the on-screen bar graph that depicts your how close you are to dying in an easy-to-read color-coded format. You start at green (sturdy as a flimsy window), move into yellow (probably time to use one of those 14 medi-packs you’re lugging), and then red (“What has two thumbs and will be dead in an instant? This guy, right here!”). A similar health bar in the real world would reduce unnecessary doctor visits and eliminate the need for x-rays, blood work, and (God-willing) colonoscopies. Just wake up each morning and check your status. Still green? All right! Pizza and beer for breakfast! Borderline red? Better hit the treadmill.
What a wonderful world it would be if we had access to countless floating coins. Hanging in the air! Hovering over the ground! Run and jump through a sea of small change! Some in patterns! Others in spinning shapes! No more struggling to feed the parking meter. Forget about scrounging under the sofa cushions on laundry day. Panhandling? What’s that? The piggy bank industry would go through the roof! Coins, coins, coins for everyone!
Fantasy games love potions, those powerful magic spells in liquid form. Just pick one up at the local bazaar, knock it back and the special powers are instantaneous. No confusing incantations or smelly incense required. Invisibility. Healing. Fire resistance. Levitation. I’m surprised Big Pharma isn’t all over this cash cow of concoctions. Until they are, the closest I’ll come to drinking a “magic potion” is the Scorpion at a bar called the Kon Tiki, with the only transformative effects being a superhuman headache, double vision and the amazing ability to regurgitate an entire Polynesian platter.