When I was younger, I really liked playing text-based computer games. I played a lot of Adventure, a game without any graphics in which you controlled the story by typing commands, like Open Door or Take Gold. Often, you needed to be very specific about your commands. Unlock Door might not be work where Use Key In Door did work, which led to pretty frustrating semantic arguments with my computer.
Sierra also did a bunch of text-based games, like the first few Kings’ Quest games. These games are why I almost always play a theif in games like Icewind Dale or WoW… I just feel the need to steal everything that’s not nailed down.
The other day, Stick and I were in a “Western” restaurant, and we wanted to get a plain pizza. Pizza’s pretty popular in most places I’ve visited in Shandong, and the menu had a vegetable pizza, a seafood pizza and a mayonaise fruit salad pizza.
I asked for a plain pizza. The waitress told me that that wasn’t possible, since a plain pizza wouldn’t taste good. I thought that perhaps one of us was using the wrong word for something, so we had the same conversation in broken Chinese and broken English. Yes, we have pizza. Yes, we cook it here. No, you can’t have a plain pizza because you won’t like it.
After promising not to complain if the plain pizza was unpalatable, and offering to pay the veggie pizza price for a plain pie, I wasn’t making any headway. A plain pizza, she assured me, would not taste good.
“Can I have a vegetable pizza with no tomatoes?” I asked, in broken Chinese.
“Can I have a vegetable pizza with no onions?”
“Can I have a vegetable pizza with no peppers?”
“Can I have a vegetable pizza with no corn?”
“Can I have a vegetable pizza with no tomato, onion, peppers or corn?”
“Ok, that’s what I want.”
I went back to making googly eye with Stick, secure ing the knowledge that years of playing text-based games are finally paying off.