The Video Games I've Designed… in My Head

I got my first Nintendo when I was a toddler. My parents got it for me after I learned to Use the Potty Like a Big Boy. Family Legend has it that I became so engrossed in playing Zelda one morning that I pooped on the floor, then scooched over two feet to the left to avoid the smell, and promptly continued my quest for the Master Sword. In retrospect, my parents would have done well to consider alternate methods of positive reinforcement. And really, it’s all been downhill from there.

I spent a really large portion of my adolescence Not Having Sex with people because of videogames. Not that I regret it, spending so much time Racing Chocobos at the Golden Saucer, or dealing with a Mindworm Infestation on Alpha Centauri, or Piercing the Fragile Veil of Physical Reality in the Mushroom Kingdom[1], because honestly there were a whole slew of other reasons why I didn’t get laid in High School – like the fact that I was the Editor of the School Literary Magazine, just for starters. And all of that time spent solving puzzles and repeatedly jumping from platform to platform in search of some obscure, poorly-named artifact like The Lance of the Argyle Dragoon or Whatever did wonders for my lateral and creative thinking skills. Indeed, like most boys, I even dreamed of one day designing my own videogames. The kind of games that I could enjoy, that appealed to my particular aesthetic, and that didn’t require the near-instantaneous entry of the Konami Code at the title screen to survive.

Of course, I never learned how to Program a Computer, nor did I ever particularly care to. The closest I ever came was that week or so in College when I locked myself in my room with this program called LittleSoundDJ, trying to repurpose a Game Boy to make music like Bit Shifter, emerging from my grimy cocoon with only a splitting headache and a shitty, ten-second long version of the X-Files theme to show for it. But I did have a lot of nerdy friends to come up with ideas with, and boy howdy were those ideas half-baked[2]. Here are a few of them!

Beavers: IMAX – The Game: This was the first game that ever existed in my brain, inspired by a field trip to the Maryland Science Center when I was in second grade. This was to be an All-Out Aquatic Rodent Simulator for the Super Nintendo, the greatest piece of Aquatic Rodent Simulation Hardware known to man. It would have been great! You’d run around, building dams and eating small woodland animals, avoiding predators like the Mighty Badger and the Fearless Hawk. And in the end, you would have to guide your Beaver through a terrifying lightning storm that engulfs the forest in flames, and save your colony before the river overflows. Exhilarating! Educational! 16-Bit!

Donuts to Dognuts: Okay, so this isn’t so much “An Idea Cory and I Had” as “Changing an Atari Game’s Title to Something Far More Immature”. Because you know what? “Demons to Diamonds” is a stupid name for a stupid game. “Donuts to Dognuts” is far better. I think I’d play that for at least twenty minutes longer than the original. And if you’re dealing in quarters, that makes all the difference.

Gucci Gucci Dog Specialist: I had a MS Word document somewhere around here once that laid out the whole concept of this, but it seems to have been Lost in the Sands of Time. Basically, my friend Dave and I put together this narrative about a Man who wakes up one morning and decides to look for a Lost Dog whose face he’s seen on posters around town. He collects the reward, then starts a Dog Finding Agency for a while, earning more and more money until he has enough to start a Doggie Fashion Studio to milk further profits from his customers.

Eventually the Man bonds so much with the Dogs that he starts a volleyball team with them. In the middle of one of these tournaments, one of the Dogs is suddenly kidnapped by Amazons. The Man and his highly-trained Dog Squadron then scour the jungle in search of their friend, gaining experience and tailoring their fancy garments so as to become battle armor. And in the end, after many trials and tribulations, the Fertile Valley belongs to the Man and His Dogs, and the player is free to redesign the game world as he or she sees fit.

It didn’t make much sense, sure, but a combination Adventure/ Fashion/ Volleyball/ Role-Playing/ City-Planning game with a title like that has got to sell somewhere. As long as that place is Japan. TC mark


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  • Carlos Ortiz

    haha nice piece, I never thought about designing a game as a concept, seems fun.
    I'll try it:
    It will be an RPG.
    It's about staying in your room, for some reason you skipped school (kids will love that) and you go and get on your computer a

    • Evan Hatch

      I already lost at your game.

  • puzzlepunk

    I had a great idea for a game when I was 18, after me and my mates spent a night on a near by nature reserve in Canberra Australia, very high on acid. We spent most of the night digging into the dirt with sticks and other found objects occasionally stumbling across buried treasures, as the area used to be a landfill site all sorts of interesting objects were eventually discovered.

    While I never gave the game a name, it would basically involve the same thing, digging away at a rocky dirt surface with a virtual stick for extremely lengthy periods of time to occasionally discover little trinkets and uncover new improved tools for digging, say a screw driver for example.

    Now days with the Nintendo Wii this game could really be quite a physical experience – and while high on drugs you could dig at some dirt on your TV screen for hours on end, uncovering exciting objects such as bottle caps and old pens. Though the real aim of the game is to just spend a lot of time digging away at dirt.

    Maybe I'd call it Dirt Pirates.

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