Crispy Gamer

The Jones Report: The Sickness, Part 1

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When talking about my fellow gamers and game writers, I often use the term "The Sickness" to describe them.

For example, I have a colleague who, many years ago, purchased the Japanese version of Super Mario 64 from an import store in L.A. He was traveling at the time, and didn't have access to a TV that would accept the red/white/yellow Nintendo 64 inputs. All he had with him that would accept the inputs was a handheld video camera.

No doubt you can see where this is going.

Since he couldn't possibly wait to play the game, what he did was this: he hooked his N64 up to the video camera, and he played the Japanese version of Super Mario 64 on the camera's two-inch-by-three-inch screen black and white screen.

Can my friend read or understand Japanese?

He cannot.

Yet none of these obstacles could hope to stop him from playing the game.

Because he has The Sickness.

A few days ago while doing some research for a story, I found myself reading about Burnout 3: Takedown, about how this game not only defined the Burnout series, but also forever changed the way we evaluate all future games in the genre.

I hadn't played the game in ages. I wondered what it might be like to play the game again.

Voila.

Suddenly, I was overcome with the desire to play--or rather, re-play--Burnout 3: Takedown.

This is how it happens.

The Sickness takes hold. And, as anyone knows who has ever had The Sickness, it would not be denied.

That day I was about to place an order through Amazon, so I thought I'd simply tack a copy of B3T onto the order. Only it seems copies of B3T are not all that common. New copies of the PS2 Greatest Hits version were going for upwards of $50.

Fact: Realizing that a game is rare only makes The Sickness exponentially worse.

Standing at my apartment window, I looked out across the buildings, the skyline, with rain pouring down, I thought: "There has got to be a copy of B3T out there somewhere."

And so began a one-man, city-canvasing, obsessive manhunt for a copy of B3T.

Ah, The Sickness...

I knew, at the outset, that this manhunt would be interesting. It would be more interesting than, say, doing work or paying bills. I would talk to other gamers. I would go to all my favorite game retailers around the city. I would inevitably find more reasons to be annoyed by EB Games employees.

I wonder, at times, if the manhunt is less about the game and more about the search for the game; if it's the old "not the destination, but the journey" thing.

With a Cliff Bar in my pocket for sustenance and my collar turned up against the wind, I set off into the unknown.