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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #72: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

This is a story about revenge. Cheap, tawdry, juvenile, unworthy. More on that in a bit.


I never owned this game. Which, in retrospect, baffles me. It has a lot of what I like: geography, trivia, critical thinking, puzzles. Cool nerdy stuff.


Back to the revenge bit.


As I said, I never owned this game. My first exposure to it was in the basement of my next door neighbor's house. This kid was a good guy, and we would hang out quite a bit. He was a sporty type, so hanging out usually involved him kicking my ass at basketball or soccer or wiffle ball. So on that rainy day when we retreated into his family's cellar, he fired up their computer - I remember it wasn't our familiar Commodore but something else, an Apple or something - and introduced me to Carmen. I had heard of it from kids at school - this was probably 1986 or '87, and the most common way to hear about a computer game was word of mouth (or maybe full-page ads in Marvel comics). I liked it right away (see above).


The best part? My neighbor struggled with this thing. It simply wasn't his jam. I was bopping around the world nabbing henchmen while he was still wrestling with maps and questions that seemed elemental to me. We were in my octagon now. I think, in retrospect, it was one of the earliest times I remember being keenly aware of weaponizing my mind. It wasn't particularly savory of me, but I had a lot of driveway hoops losses to avenge. And avenge them I did. Have I mentioned that this kid was about three years younger than me? That made the athletic defeats and this intellectual victory all the more shameful.


It wasn't long before my neighbor lost interest and switched the game off. Victory, however small and ugly, was fleetingly mine. I don't think I've ever played Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? again. Once was enough.

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