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Bombs Away: An Enormous Game Of Minesweeper

“Bigger is better,” opined the zeitgeist of the ‘eighties. “More is more,” the people cried back. “Let us wear ever-larger shoulder pads that we may be better people and construct ever-larger temples made from Minesweeper to our new digital gods.”

Today I learned that either that has been a real ongoing project for the last three decades or that a company called CineMassive really wants to promote the fact that they have HD video wall technology. Maybe both. Either way, “Minesweeper Super Challenge” now exists. It spreads across 24 screens with a total of 38,799 mines to deal with on expert mode.

Minesweeper was probably the first PC game I ever played. I must have spent hours on it before I graduated to Spider Solitaire, a game so addictive that I have had to uninstall it from several operating systems over the course of my life.

Minesweeper was a simple way to teach people to use a mouse interface but it was no Spider Solitaire. Minesweeper for me was joyless. The combination of luck and logic were far more frustrating than they were pleasing and the victories and defeats felt equally nothingy. I wonder if playing such an enormous version would trigger some kind of existential panic over the sheer awful pointlessness, the waste of hours of life.

Were I to want to experience such hopelessness I could complete a form requesting to play the challenge. I’m currently filling it in with Alice’s details and here are a few thoughts:

1. The whole thing is purportedly “In honor of the 30th anniversary of Minesweeper”. Microsoft’s version of Minesweeper which is the one they are talking about is regularly given a release date around 1990 so it’d be good to know where the 30th anniversary thing even comes from.

2. “Test your skills on our video wall – from the comfort of your home!” – so you… what? Take a mouse and just play a sprawling multiscreen game of Minesweeper designed to advertise a giant video wall on your regular screen at home? If you as the player don’t need the video wall who is it for? Who is anything for? What is the point of anything?

3. There is no prize or reward. Potentially you could find a yawning chasm of existential despair though so that’s something.

4. The terms and conditions stipulate that the game will be played out on a 16xHD wall. So that’s 8 fewer screens than the one in the trailer, right? So are the cells being scaled down or are there fewer mines or what?

5. “Total playing time is limited to no more than 12 hours per individual.”

Imagine.
Imagine being in your room at home for twelve hours playing that one game of Minesweeper.
Imagine your finger slipping eleven hours in as you start to lose concentration.
Imagine your cat jumping up, seeking attention, food, warmth, putting a paw on the controls and… click.
Imagine all the things you could do in those twelve hours.
Imagine being on your death bed and whispering to the empty air “well, at least I played twelve hours of Minesweeper”.

6. “By submitting a contact form, you agree to release CineMassive from any liability resulting from, or related to using the Minesweeper Super Challenge game.” Presumably this means RSI is totally your problem, kid.

7. I guess Alice can let us know how it goes if she gets accepted.

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Philippa Warr

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