347: Brick Archway
Title text: The TI-86 was bad enough. I don't know how I'd have gotten through high school if I'd had a laptop+wifi.
Breakout is a game first created in 1976 and since then has gained much popularity and has been recreated in many different versions. In the game, the player controls a horizontal 'bat' at the bottom of the screen to make it move left or right. Above it are several layers of bricks which are destroyed when hit by the ball. The ball is not affected by gravity and will float around, bouncing off the walls, bricks and bat. The aim of the game is to keep the ball from touching the bottom of the screen (by deflecting it with the bat) long enough for the ball to hit and destroy all of the bricks.
Cueball's approach to the game is to actually stand underneath a brick archway and throw a tennis ball at the structure above him in an attempt to destroy the bricks. Naturally, the physics in the game don't work in real life, and the aftermath of Cueball's actions is that one of the bricks in the archway comes loose and falls onto Cueball's head, causing possibly fatal damage.
The sentence at the bottom of the comic points out the illogical nature of the game when compared to real life.
The title text relates to a programmable calculator from the late '90s which could have a Breakout-like game easily programmed into. This calculator and others like this were a requirement in many high schools in the United States after the early 1990s in spite of its $100+ price. Randall speculates that, given the amount of distraction this simple game provided him back then, he would not be able to focus on study at all with modern technical instruments like laptops using wireless LANs.
- [An inset panel to the left shows Cueball getting ready to throw a tennis ball upward.]
- [Cueball lies on the ground, underneath the titular archway, next to two halves of a brick. A pool of blood is coming from his head. Dust falls from the place in the archway where the he knocked the brick from with the tennis ball. The ball, meanwhile, has rolled about a meter away.]
- "Breakout" is a stupid game.
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