[Insert witty and slightly ribald comment using the words “pole” and “position”]

Sorry, this post is neither about poles nor positions, or inserting for that matter.  Yet, I still have several paragraphs to go, so we’ll see where this thing ends up.

I like racing games. I really do. Though I’ve played very few with any intent to become a champion virtual race car driver, a number of racing games have flitted in and out of my gaming life: several Gran Turismo titles, Burnout (2, I think. Less racing, more destruction), a couple Ridge Racer titles, maybe a couple demos here and there. My fiancé will usually pick up a new racing title every now and then with the intent to play against each other; but then games like Call of Duty and Batman come out, and the racing games go back onto their lonely shelves with all the other games we “intend” to play again someday. The last one we got, Gran Turismo 5 for the PS3 is insanely fun; and I really thought that I might actually try to play through the game and develop my own car. But no, it’s on the lonely shelves, just waiting. Don’t worry little GT5, your day will come.

So what started this long, strange interest in racing games? Why that classic Pole Position!

Pole Position cover art © Atari (source)

We had a version of the game (Pole Position II, I think – that cover looks the most familiar) in the mid 1980s for our trusty Atari and it quickly became one of my favorites.  I really wasn’t that good at it, but boy, did I want to become a race car driver every time after playing!  The game itself was very simple, unlike today’s Forza Motorsport , Need for Speed, and other monumental racing titles.  Pole Position featured your car and other cars on various racetracks ranging from easy to stupidly hard.  There were no flaming obstacles, no pedestrians to squash, no killer clowns, no turbo power-ups to snatch.  Not much of anything except a few mountains in the background and a green 8-bit landscape.  And sky, there was blue at the top of the screen, with clouds.  But really, the only thing that mattered was winning.  Not Charlie Sheen !winning!…just winning.

Look at him…go? (source)

All cars were viewed from the rear, so you could see everything that was in front of your.  I do recall that I never payed any attention to what was coming up behind me.  That was a bad habit, and one that translated into many facets of my regular life.

Remember that kids, always look out behind you.

Peripheral vision, what the hell is that?!

And what the hell is this? (source)

Getting back on “track” (ha ha), I also remember being terribly upset every time I got passed by another car. Did these drivers not know that I was the ultimate-most-awesome-eat-your-face-off-best driver in the whole goddamn world?

I’m pushing down on that red button like my life depended on it. Just say go dammit! (source)

And I think Pole Position was the first game that got me in trouble due to controller (joystick) flinging and fragile objects.

Like the later Super Mario Brothers, Pole Position was a game that I really played just for fun.  I may have played with my siblings…not sure on that one, they were a little young at the time.  Maybe I played with my Dad?  Nah.  Probably, it was just me, ignoring my homework or the sun as usual.

Oh my.  After seeing that, I now have a strong urge to see WarGames – the original one with Matthew Broderick.  I really can’t say why other than 80s nostalgia and green computer text.

You’ll notice that I also never went the dirty route with poles and positions; but don’t fret.  There’s a whole internet just waiting for your twisted Google search.  If you landed here looking for strippers, I’m terribly sorry.  Just hit the back button and I’m sure you’ll find Pole Positions 8: Candy vs. Ariel without any problems.

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