Nov 24, 2014

Growing Up in Missions, Memoir Project Excerpt 4: Our New Computer

When we announced our call to missions, a wealthy family in the Morristown Church gifted us our first computer: a 486 dream machine with a 33MHz clock speed, 2 megs of RAM, DOS 6.0 as the primary operating system with a bonus of the most impressive Windows 3.1. Its 200MB hard disk came preloaded with the very latest and greatest in gaming technology: a lot of Shareware, to be sure, but a complete Wolfenstein 3-D (which we deleted due to violence), and Carmen Sandiego, and Castle of the Winds, an addictive little Roguelike (which we deleted because witchcraft).

It also had Monkey Island, which also had witchcraft, but it’s a puzzle-based adventure game. We had never encountered the genre before, and at ages 5, 9, and 11 we were so bad at it that it took us well over year of intermittent playing to actually get to the witchcraft-y bits. By that time we were already in Bulgaria and Mom and Dad had stopped noticing anything that didn’t impinge on their ministry directly. Even so, it required some soul-searching. There’s a voodoo priestess who has a fortune-telling shop on the town’s main street; inside is a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle that you need to zipline over to another island where you would then touch a fearsome parrot to prove your bravery to Meathook before he would join your crew. We didn’t know all that at the time, but we had been everywhere else, and a friend finally told us that the missing piece to the puzzle was indeed in The International House of Mojo.

This was a grave moral dilemma. On the one hand, you want to beat the game. On the other, this is Voodoo—and divination! These are evil spirits we’re talking about, here. Guybrush Threepwood stood staring at that door for a long, long time as the inner struggle raged, and then—a brilliant compromise. We would go in, grab the chicken, get out as quickly as possible, pray forgiveness, and save the game. Then, on any subsequent playthroughs, we would play through right up till the spot that the plot forced you to put your immortal soul in danger, and from there just load the save on the other side.

It was decided. With hearts pounding, we began the clicking: “Open” “Door”. The interminable load … We were in! Our eyes scanned the darkened room, where pixelated skeletons lurked in the corners, illuminated only by the ghastly green light of the priestess's cauldron ...  there! “Pick Up” “Rubber Chicken with a Pulley in the Middle” “Open” “Door” … and we were out. We could breathe again. We prayed forgiveness, just in case, and immediately created the brand new save file, kept sacrosanct for any future use.

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