“The original Gauntlet was released with no ending. The hundred or so levels were randomised and looped for as long as play lasted. Atari saw Gauntlet as a process, a game that was played for its own sake and not to reach completion. The adventurers continue forever until their life drains out, their quest ultimately hopeless.” m
Elf, my heartiest congratulations on reaching level 130! What unbelievable progress you’ve made. What a glittering career. I bet you look back on the previous 129 indistinguishable levels and find it hard to believe how far you’ve come. Have you considered writing a book about your travels? I know a publishing house that would be very interested in your rousing tales of walking through a series of identical rooms. Why, I imagine it will be the sleeper hit of next summer. As soon as your adventure is over, why don’t I set up a meeting? I’ll invite a couple of television executives as well, perhaps Sam Mendes, or the Archbishop of Canterbury. You’ll forgive them if they chant “Elf! Elf! Elf!” when you enter the restaurant. We’re all dying to meet you, Elf! In fact, I believe the people of Britain are planning some sort of standing ovation for you when you finally reach the edge of the dungeon. Assuming of course, that there is an edge to the dungeon, which there isn’t.
Don’t listen to me, Warrior. Please, continue to let your naive sense of purpose pilot you like a crummy, pixelated ghost ship through a grey sea of nothingness. No one can doubt that your trajectory is immaculate, Warrior, unblemished by reality, much like a man falling off a roof, or a dead body crushed against a blaring car-horn. I have no doubt that you will ‘hold the course’, Warrior. In fact, I have just put the finishing touches on a mural that illustrates your many adventures. The green daubs around your head represents the System that you cannot see yet so cowardly protect.
Wizard, as an ironist, you alone receive some sense of subjective freedom. Your outré dress sense deprives your surroundings of a finite degree of cognitive reality. In this manner, the dungeon can never truly hold you. Perhaps you expect us to be greatful for this mockery. Perhaps you
would like us to bake some sort of special cake in your honour. How privileged you are, Wizard, and yet your surreal brand of comedy is just as reductive as the boilerplate ethics it attempts to negate. Deep down you have never truly questioned the rules. I will wager that you have never had an original thought. In fact, Wizard, you are incapable of fantasy. Your only escape will be from your own bloodstream, and even then your raft will never reach the rim of the ocean.
They say that the show is never over until the fat lady sings (and you, Valkyrie, are unmistakably that fat lady), however, this particular rendition of Götterdämmerung is undergoing a series of dramatic rewrites at the behest of your controversial composer, a clownish horror of a man, who is composing a series of new librettos by headbutting a photocopier, an acknowledged unusual choice of collaborator (and one who many feel has outstayed its welcome at the Vienna Volksoper) the photocopier continues to be associated with the opera house due primarily to its prolific output, with you and your fellow singers receiving new pages every day, and although the sheets are all identical, featuring instructions on how to milk dogs, you and your ensemble remain greatful for the work, spending every minute of your cheap viagra waking day trying to bring the text to life, pushing Wagnerian harmony further and further with extreme chromaticism and generous use of dissonance, the production stretching out over days, weeks, years, until eventually the baritone is shot dead by the Slovene conductor Hugo Franck, and the renowned tenor Marco Casolini dies of malnutrition. Indeed, it looks unlikely that you will be winning the Nilsson Prize any time soon. One might even start to form the opinion that the entire production is a sham and a valuable mezze-soprano’s talents would be better suited elsewhere, for example, face-down at the bottom of a swimming pool. Sure enough, spend long enough at the grindstone and all the walls start to look like exits, and Valkyrie, nobody can walk through that door like you can.
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