Do you like video games?
I suppose such a question may depend on the generation reading this. But if you're around my age range, the odds are pretty good that you grew up as part of the Nintendo generation.
Yes sir, the Nintendo Entertainment System. The 8-bit video game console that was released in North America in late 1985 and introduced the world to Mario, the pint-sized Italian plumber character who would fast become the king mascot of the Nintendo enterprise for decades. There was also Luigi, Mario's thinner brother who wore all green in comparison to Mario's all red, but let's face it, the world knew who the true star was here.
The Super Mario Bros. video game came included with every Nintendo system that was bought, which was exactly what my brothers and I discovered when we woke up on Christmas morning in 1992 to find a Nintendo under the tree. Cheers rang out, and the odds were good that they were probably heard all over Conquest as my mom and dad poured their morning coffee, exchanging smiling glances of, 'Oh man, what sort of chaos did we unleash on this household?'.
It goes without saying that our Nintendo system became a treasured item in our household. Our collection of games grew substantially, and it was a point of personal pride when my brothers and I managed to convince our dad to join in on the fun. If you remember the game Duck Hunt, which also came included with the Nintendo system, then you know that the game was super simple with an easy-to-follow premise; the ducks will fly out of the bush, and you aim with the Nintendo gun and fire away. Duck hits equal points, and the hunt would become increasingly difficult. If you fired and missed, a dog would pop out of the bush and laugh at you.
Well, we got Jack convinced to give this hunting game a shot one night and handed him the gun controller. He knew what to do, and to his credit, he would hit the odd duck here and there, but it was still a hilarious sight to behold watching Jack Edward Ruttle - a gruff, no-nonsense, meat-and-potatoes kind of guy - pointing a plastic gun at a TV screen and trying his damdest to blow away virtual game fowl.
I still remember him sneering at that giggling cartoon dog laughing between missed shots and remarking to me, 'Don't suppose I can shoot that damn dog, eh?'
As the years went on, so did the video game industry. The Nintendo system grew to include the Super Nintendo, or you could "switch sides" and join the Sega Genesis side of the fence. From there, the Nintendo 64 came along, which was a legitimate game changer as far as graphics, quality, and gameplay were concerned. And then came the Playstation.
Not long after the Playstation arrived, its sequel, the Playstation 2 (real geniuses coming up with these catchy names) arrived and it seemed like everyone had one. I did too, and I remember playing many games on nights when I wasn't out driving around with friends, doing God knows what around Outlook, worrying about school, or thinking about girls. Hey, I'm a teenage boy at around this time, so girls took up a lot of residency in my brain. If I'm being honest, the opposite sex still does today!
The Playstation 2 was where my favorite video game of all time was released into a society that reacted to it in one of two very definitive ways; you either accepted it and enjoyed it as the fun, but very adult content that it was, or you condemned it as garbage that was "soiling the minds of our children". The game was Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a story of criminals acting like, well, criminals toward each other in a multilayered tale of betrayal, violence, power, and all of it set against the backdrop of sunny Florida in the year 1986.
The game quickly became popular when I was in high school, with my friends and I playing it over and over and over.
And then, there was one night in June 2005 while my buddies Kyle, Chris and I were having a bonfire late on a Saturday night. We were discussing video games, and of course Vice City popped up. I wish I could remember who posed the question, but the question did indeed come up - What if Outlook as a community was a video game? What would the missions be? What's the story? What's the setup?
Well, the three of us must've sat around that bonfire that night for two or three hours coming up with all sorts of missions, character profiles, and twists and turns throughout the story that would eventually lead to the story's conclusion.
Outlook as a video game.......hmmmmmm....
That's an interesting question for 2023, don't you think? The story that my buddies and I came up with in 2005 will stay retired, and let's just say there's an oath of secrecy between us that will never be broken. But here's my crack at it for modern times.
So what are we thinking, Outlook as some sort of medieval war-torn land? Nah, too bleak. I'm thinking of retaining the same Grand Theft Auto model, but without all the shameless stealing from the popular video game series. Make it TRULY unique to Outlook and the surrounding area.
Mission 1: Modestly-popular reporter Eric Tuttle and his newspaper The Lookout have had their names slung in the mud by the local town council. Who's the culprit who stooged you to your higher-ups? What will you do when you find out? And in the end, whose side will the residents of Lookout be on when the dust has settled?
Mission 2: Local rock band Good Intentions have a gig in town coming up, but something's wrong - their bass player has gone missing! Did he join another band? Nope, you'll find out that he's been kidnapped by a rival band from a rival town, and it's up to YOU to rescue him!
Mission 3: You go to your buddy's house to pick him up to go for drinks, but wait, he's not there. You phone him up, and someone else picks up. You learn that your buddy got in a fight with some no-good punks from the next town over in Rosetown. No, wait, we probably shouldn't use real town names here, eh? How about Tulipville?
There are probably a dozen other missions and likely a whole convoluted backstory I could write, but there's only so much space, as they say.
And relax, people. I wrote this with a half-smile and a knowing wink on my face. It's video games, folks; no sense in getting hot about any of this.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.