I knew it had to happen sooner or later - that I would eventually be the victim of some sort of animal attack. Tonight while carrying my gear through the forest looking for somewhere to camp I stepped on an old log and was swarmed by flying stinging insects. I have no idea what they were as I was in no mood to stop to perform a proper scientific analysis. They were small and black and many.
In all I think I've been stung about seventeen times - eight on the ankles, six on the thighs and ass, and three times on the back. For some reason they didn't sting my bare skin, they ignored my face, arms and knees, and opted to sting through my shirt, shorts and socks - weird! The sting kind of felt like a tiny burning needle being inserted into my flesh, quite painful and distressing at the time, but now (an hour later) they're just itchy and sore. I bet they'll be gone tomorrow.
Incidentally, when I've had the time I've been playing a little old school NES role-playing game on my computer by the name of Dragon Warrior II. I can't help but think how much it parallels my life. Just like the characters in the game I travel from town to town, collect experience, acquire resources, upgrade my gear, learn new skills, and build some muscle. Tonight I battled hideous monsters in the hinterlands (if they were part of a Dragon Warrior game they'd be called "Sting-Bees" or "Wasp Wings") and came out victorious, though down a few hit points.
The TurboGraphix 16 had a couple of cool RPGs based almost entirely on the Dragon Warrior model. But they weren't about killing monsters and saving the world - one was a tennis game and the other was about racing. In the tennis game the character wanders an overworld of mountains, forests, plains, and of course towns. The "enemies" are hostile tennis opponents who challenge you to a one game match. If you win you live to enjoy strawberries and cream another day - if not your career is over. "Bosses" require you to win a whole set, but by the time you get to them you've hopefully upgraded to a new racket and a decent pair of shoes. The racing RPG was basically identical, except replace shoes with tires, games with laps, and Martina Navratilova with Danica Patrick.
Which all made me think - why isn't there a bicycle touring video game? Let me toss out a few random ideas. You start with a character and a budget, both of which are entirely customizable. You can set off in any direction and go anywhere. You are then subject to all the contingencies, risks and rewards of a real bicycle traveler. Can you ride from Moscow to Irkutsk before the weather turns bad? Can you find enlightenment while traveling the subcontinent? If you leave New York with just $1000 will you ever get to see the sunset over Malibu? We already have the entire world in virtual form courtesy of Google. How hard could it be to make a realistic, fun and exciting bike tour simulator? Are there any software designers out there looking for a project? Here is the first problem to work on: How do we simulate my itchy swollen ankles???