There was a front page story in The Wall Street Journal last week about a 19-year-old computer whiz from Boston named Jonathan Rotenberg, who, among other endeavors, is designing a video game in which a player wins by "building something rather than destroying it." To appreciate the significance of this project, one must realize how much time video game addicts spend simulating violent acts. When they're not demolishing space ships (Galaxians and Space Invaders) or obliterating intergalactic objects (Asteroids), they're doing battle with a giant ape (Donkey Kong) or trying to destroy monsters before being destroyed themselves (Pac-Man).
And for violence that modern man can really relate to, there's a new video game called Firebug, in which players pretend to race through buildings and use cans of gasoline to set them ablaze. After that one drew the ire of Ohio Senator John Glenn and the International Association of Arson Investigators, Firebug's largest distributor, Softsel Computer Products of Inglewood, Calif., said last week that it would no longer handle the game. Now if only the same results could be achieved with an "adult" video game called Custer's Revenge, which feminist groups and American Indian activists oppose on the grounds that it glorifies rape and is racist. The object of Custer's Revenge is to overcome various obstacles to reach and ravish an Indian maiden; on the game's display carton, the maiden is shown tied to a stake. A spokesman for the manufacturer, American Multiple Industries of Northridge, Calif., says the game is "meant to be funny."
THE WORLD'S LONGEST RUNNER
In addition to being a major sports event (page 24), the New York Marathon is equal parts Middle Eastern bazaar, sales convention, trade show and corporate promotional outing. Consider the pre-marathon activities of the Du Pont Company, which provided the carpeting used to partially cover the grating that forms the roadbed of two of the bridges along the race route. Although that might seem a relatively modest contribution, the fact that Du Pont Antron nylon carpeting was put to such use was ballyhooed at no fewer than five media events and "photo opportunities."
The press was invited to cover the installation of carpeting on both the Queensboro Bridge—this 3,975-foot strip was billed as the "world's longest runner"—and the Willis Avenue Bridge. It was also alerted to the display at the New York Road Runners Club's big Saturday night pasta party of a strip of carpeting and a section of steel bridge grating that Du Pont thoughtfully brought in so as to enable competitors to decide in advance whether they wanted to run the next day on bare or carpeted grating.
Another event on Du Pont's hectic schedule was the "Antron Sprint," featuring "internationally recognized superstar" Rod Dixon. Undeterred by a calf injury that kept him out of the race itself, Dixon, a New Zealander who won the bronze medal in the 1,500 meters at the 1972 Olympics and later switched to road racing, received $1,000 to "warm up" the carpeting on the Queensboro Bridge and to shmooze with Du Pont executives, who defied a frigid wind and don't walk signs (the signs said nothing about running) to join him. Also present was a reporter from Carpet and Rug Industry magazine, who vacuumed up quotes. Whatever the value of Antron carpeting in protecting runners' feet from what Du Pont called the "unforgiving" surface of the Queensboro Bridge and the "fierce, almost unrunnable" grating of the Willis Avenue Bridge, everybody who attended the media events agreed on one thing: Freshly laid carpeting sure has an appealing smell.