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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In which Yankel dresses himself

I am laughing so hard I'm crying. For a belated Hannukah present, I bought my beloved Yankel (at his suggestion) a computer game: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06. In this exciting game, you learn how to play virtual golf on virtual golf courses etc. (Don't worry - it was cheap).

Yankel has been playing for two hours already and he has not yet played a single game of virtual golf. How can this be, you ask? Well, bundled into Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 are not only a zillion virtual golf courses, but a virtual clothing shop and a virtual plastic surgery clinic. After choosing your gender, race, and age, you can use literally 100 different sliding variables to make your golfer look like you (or like whoever you want). You can give yourself a unibrow, arching eyebrows, or straight eyebrows. You can have a triple chin or a chiseled jaw. You can have eyes tilted up or down at the corners, crow's feet, or any variation on laugh lines around your mouth.

Yankel and I have spent the last 45 minutes trying to design his golfer avatar a face that looks like him. This is very tricky work. I liked it when he accidentally slid the slider too far and gave himself gigantic ears (whose angle against your head can also be modified). We have done pretty well, I think - my only complaints about his character's current face are that he looks too old to be Yankel and he has suspiciously tight-looking eyelids. Maybe that's a given these days. Anyway, he's a little sleazy, but he'll pass.

As we remodel his face, faux-Yankel struts back and forth, preening and simpering, admiring his high-tech gloves and his biceps, and angling his jaw up toward us, examining his chin in the mirror to make sure we didn't give him too much neck fat.

Then we had to dress faux-Yankel, which is also tricky. Yankel starts the game with only $3,600 in the bank (presumably he gets more by winning tournaments), and if he drops half of that in the pro shop before he even gets onto the course, how the hell is he going to afford any golf lessons? On the other hand, Yankel finds the pleated-front pants and white belt that faux-Yankel already owns unbearably tacky.

Sports, like life, are full of tough tradeoffs. If we don't buy faux-Yankel some better-looking flat-front pants, will the other golfer avatars point and jeer at faux-Yankel's ugly clothes as he hits the links, damaging his self esteem and distracting him from his golf game? And if he gets distracted and loses the game, how will he ever afford those name-brand $300 sunglasses? On the other hand, we have no evidence that faux-Yankel has any wealthy relatives who can afford to step in if he maxes out his faux-credit card. I would feel guilty if faux-Yankel ended up having to live on the virtual golf course, particularly with his plastic surgery starting to go wrong.

All I'm saying is that this exact same software could be used to make a Design Your Own Barbie computer game, and nobody would bat an eye. But what does this say about the state of virtual-sports? Are the glory days of computer golf gone? Will Yankel ever find the time to actually play a virtual game? Also, if real Tiger Woods had anything to do with this game (which is doubtful) is he the vainest man ever to walk the earth?


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At 4:20 PM, Blogger Hannah said...

I find us very confusing.


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