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Batman Playground

The Dark Knight.

I have missed out on another job opportunity.  I did everything I was supposed to, had a great interview, managed not to swear at or threaten anyone on the way in or out, then got the stock email saying I wasn’t good enough to work for them.

There are only so many times that you can hear this response before you start to really doubt your value.  I used to be able to get jobs without a hitch.  I interviewed once for each of my last four and picked them up right away.  Now it seems like failure is a foregone conclusion.  I’m left feeling empty and useless, like a squeeze bottle of mustard that is too gunked-up to wash out properly for the recycling bin.

Thank God for Batman: Arkham Asylum.  My brother loaned it to me on his last visit, and I think it is the only thing that’s keeping me going right now.

Do you remember what it was like to play on a jungle gym when you were still a kid?  No no, not those safety-conscious, padded, low-rise, swingless pieces of garbage they put up in parks these days.  I mean the old-school ones, the kinds with swinging bridges and chain-link climbing nets, sliding poles, platforms ten feet off the ground and a place where you could jump from the top of the slide to grab the high-bar on the way through.

Imagine that you were on one of those playgrounds but it was the size of a small island.  And then fill it with crazies let loose from an asylum.  And then imagine that you can glide long distances, shoot grappling hooks, zipline, fight kung-fu style, throw batarangs, and blow up stuff with explosive foam.  All the while you are unravelling a complicated plot made by a fiendish Joker, stopping him and numerous other supper-villains from destroying Gotham City.

If you get tired of that stuff, there are literally hundreds of little secrets hidden around the island by the Riddler.  It’s like the world’s coolest scavenger hunt, since you can now scale sheer rock faces and haul yourself up to rooftops.  (My brother always complained when I hid stuff in the eaves troughs when we were little.  I drew the map for him and everything, but he was afraid to climb the TV tower and dangle over the two-story drop.  Wuss.)

And then if you get tired of that, you can choose to just drop yourself into rooms that are full of bad guys, where you can silently pick them off one by one, or beat them all senseless in a melee that makes you every bit as cool as Christian Bale (only without the socially damaging temper tantrums).

In a generation of games that tend to be too complex, twitchy, and self-important to actually be enjoyable all that often, I’m glad that someone out there has realized that making fun games is still worthwhile.  It’s about the only thing keeping me going right now.

Well, that and the big bag of leftover Halloween candy.

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