My buddy Bob found an online version of Connect Four. As I played through a couple games, I remember back to one of my first "real" gaming experiences - a bunch of classmates and I loved playing this game during recess on crummy days back in Ohio.
I was in the fifth grade, and I developed my first real circle of friends. During the warmer months, we played four-square during recess. We invented a very complicated set of rules for the game, which still involved a lot of heated arguing, hurt feelings, and occasional bouts of anger and pouting, but were an enormous amount of fun, not only because we were eleven-year-old boys (and the oldest kids in school) but by that token we had the best gig around. Sometimes there were lines twenty people long to get in a game of our four-square, and sometimes you could go an entire recess without playing - but, we took down everyone's name and position at the end of each recess so we could pick up right where we left off the next day.
There was a group of us that suffered through Mrs. Bonar's horrible fourth-grade class together and come out alive (I've got more to say about Mrs. Bonar, but that's it's own blog entry - hell, that's a psychological novel). There was me, Tom Plunkett, Ryan Horton, Eric Stricker, and Chris. Time has erased Chris' last name, but I can still see his face. I haven't seen many of these people since I moved out of Granville in early 1991, but I did hear that Eric became a drug dealer in high school and bought himself a Beamer. The other guys, I have no clue what happened to them. We were in the same Cub Scout den together, we played Super Mario 3 for the first time together, and we played Connect 4 together.
We didn't have checkers or chess tournaments, but we had a vicious Connect 4 thing going. It happened any recess where we couldn't go outside and play four-square, and it resembled a chess game more than a Connect 4 game. Connect 4 is supposed to be played very quickly, but we turned it into an art form of feints and counter-feints, forcing each other to move, and planning strategies far in advance. I would have to say that our Connect 4 games were really my first introduction to heavy game strategy and power-gaming, even though it's basically a larger version of tic-tac-toe.
It was a fun time. Sometimes I wonder what became of some of those guys, if Eric really turned out to be a drug dealer, and how I would have turned out differently if I'd stayed. But not today; today, I'm just having a great time remembering those hardcore games of Connect 4.
Thursday, January 29, 2004