Traveling to the city in a cab is a tiresome affair, especially on weekends. There's also a peak period surcharge, and traffic usually moves at a snail's pace because of the crowd. I was stuck in a middle of a jam one day when I had the itch to play Daigasso! Band Brothers - basically a portable Rock Band for the Nintendo DS. It had been my favored game for a week at that point, but I could feel my interest level waning with each button press. I wasn't making the grade, and the session was fast becoming repetitive. I needed variety - a different game mode, perhaps.
At the menu, I deliberated over the options. A little voice at the back of my head told me that it was as good a time as any to try out the karaoke mode for the first time. What's the worst that can happen? it said. This had to be the ultimate achievement all that training from voice-activated games has prepared me for.
Like a kid who's been dared to say a bad word in class, I felt a slight surge of adrenaline coursing through my hands. I tapped Start and chose a song. Someday, I thought, I'll look back at this and laugh about it. I opened my mouth and let out the first few words in a voice no louder than my regular speaking tone.
"What did you say? Turn left?"
"Huh? Oh, that. Uh, no. Straight. Straight ahead please."
I made a mental note to myself to pick a more melodic song with fewer pauses between stanzas next time.
At the train station one day on the way to work, I shared a bench with a preppy-looking guy in shirt and tie who had just determined his Brain Age.
"Great game, huh?"
"Yea, it is. I need the mental workout," he smiled.
"Have you tried the speaking mode?"
"Yea, it's funny!"
"Have you tried it in public?"
When Jiahui Cai isn't indulging in virtual stupidity on her blog at www.thecollectiveus.com, she can be found around the streets engaging in real life stupidity.