Monday, December 2, 2013

Spiritual And Physical Preparation (Defender World Record Saga - Part Four Of Five)

Repetitive stress injuries suck.

When I started this experience on Saturday morning (11/16/13), playing the game was the last thing I'd have trouble with. That part was going to be a cakewalk. 

I was extremely good at Defender and had never had a place in the game where I was having difficulty getting myself extricated from. I had "clocked" the score (it resets to 0 at a million points), the Smart Bombs (reset to 0 after getting 256 Smart Bombs), and the waves (reset at 256 back to 0, so the game "starts over") plenty of times so it didn't seem like it would be too difficult. 

My play was good enough to get over a million points on a ship in the 1980s, and nowadays I could do pretty well, so I figured I could handle this. I'd even played a 4.5 hour mini marathon to get my head around what I was up against. No problem. 

Or so I had thought. 
Add Physical Space and Real Life, too
By the end of the game, I had simply been overpowered by the game. I didn't ever have enough ships or Smart Bombs to roll them. But the game itself wasn't all I was fighting.

During a battle like this, you are up against a lot of adversaries that you might not realize... your body, your mind, physical space, and anything that has to do with "real life."

Okay. That sounds extreme. Maybe we can break it down a little bit. 

I had been exercising regularly, gone vegan, done yoga, and been eating a reasonably healthy diet for a long time. I had played a lot of Defender, guitar, and other finger-friendly things like typing on keyboards for years ahead of this, so I thought that my hands and body were good. 
Not quite, but I tried!

Earlier this year I had broken two of the fingers on my left hand, so I was pretty concerned about that all year. Turned out to not be a problem. 

My marathon mentors suggested a couple of types of chairs / stools, so I tried those as well. I had stood up, sat down, and used chairs and stools quite well during my practice run. And I bought padded kitchen-type mats, and it made a huge difference.

Food-wise, the plan was smoothies, celery, and carrot sticks. Straight up. And Creamy Jalapeno. That plan worked nicely, except that it became obvious that there really wasn't enough time to put anything up to my own mouth if I didn't want to sacrifice a ship. Having to ask people to feed you? Not cool. Next time... need another solution. Whatever it is, it has to be bite sized or come out of an immovable crazy straw. 

During the event somewhere around 25-30 hours, the friends and family kicked in their physical support because my body itself was starting to give indications of failure. 

Jacque added Icy Hot to my back. Lucas Shultz and Josh Jones held ice packs on my hands and forearms. Greta Gardner gave me a standing massage. Jenny Bendel bought and applied a wrist brace to my right hand. 

I was hurting for certain. 
AWESOME!Wrist Brace!

Finally, once it was over, I added ice and Icy Hot to my wrists. 

My wrists were killing me. There was some tendon pain that was UNDER my carpel tunnel tendons that usually hurt. In this link, it's the farthest BIG blue one on the right. On both hands. 

Repetitive stress injury for sure. Ouch. They STILL hurt (12/2/13)

When I got away from the machine, I realized my trapezium muscles were super tight. 

If I was paying attention to my body during play, I would have stopped myself before the game bucked me off. 

You have to find ways to keep yourself entertained inside your head. Music, counting, thinking. Just anything besides thinking about how LONG it will take

I had friends to talk to and was engaged most of the time. It was VERY nice to have support during the entire time. People worked in shifts around the clock to keep me occupied. The only time I wasn't talking was when I was in real trouble in the game, and then... people left and kept others away. 

Counting the score was pretty discouraging at first, but as it racked up past 19 million, it got exciting!

The machine was set in a place where I could see the light from outside. It gave me an idea of what time it was, although I would rather have had the entire room pitch black the entire time. It was much better playing when it was the middle of the night for me. My mind put me in an arcade as well as added an element of "saving the world" from inside a command center. 

The location of the machine was important. You have 7 seconds to do ANYTHING before you lose a life / ship.
The stool to my left was also a drink table after a while

Was the arcade cabinet close enough to the bathroom? I was a few steps away from the bathroom door. Every second counts when you have to leave the cabinet. 

Were the chairs close enough to grab? I had two chairs to choose from, and swapping them had to be super easy. Eventually, I found that I would rather stand and use them for short breaks. And they were good to have handy.

Could you easily get to food and drink? I wound up using the stool I had been sitting on as a table because it was very handy. Time yourself picking up a drink, drinking, and setting it down. Depending on what you're drinking, you might exceed 7 seconds. I want a long straw for the next time I try this insanity.

Where are the cameras located? I had one facing the controls, one facing the side of the machine, and one that was facing the screen itself. The one that was facing the screen was on a microphone stand and I wound up hitting it quite a bit. That needs re-thinking on future attempts. Most people attach them to their machine. 

Is the screen getting glare from lights? You want to be sure that no light will affect your screen. I faced my machine away from the windows.

No matter how you slice it, your health, time off from work, support from friends, and all the associated other stuff, like emergencies have to be working in tandem. 


Want to read each part? Well, here's your chance!



  1. Here's where my limited amount of biking expertise comes in handy, my friend. You need a Camelbak.

    1. I thought/still think the same thing, but my mentors disagree. I figure it would be great for fluids but people say the weight isn't worth it.

      Hell I don't have to wear it all the time. It will be a part of next time, I am sure of it.