PainStation Pong at the Berlin Computer Play Museum

The following is a guest post by: Ellen Robertson who lives in sunny Oakland with her husband and son and can’t wait for some Weather – Zen!
It may be a bit off topic from our game development activities, we think you will enjoy!

Computerspielemuseum

Berlin’s Computer Play Museum

Last August in Berlin, Weather Zen™’s Mastermind, Dale Strickler, and my son and I took an afternoon off from visiting the weighty historical sites – the Wall, the book-burning square, the war memorial – and headed over to the Computer Play Museum for some fun. We weren’t sure what to expect, though we knew there was a “Pain Pong” game somewhere in the museum.

Old School Game Machines

We paid and entered a computer hall of fame of sorts — old computers and game consoles from the seventies and eighties displayed in glowing green cubbies. We spent time looking through the history of computer gaming. “There’s the Radio Shack TRS–80”, Dale said. “I worked on that.” We passed another display. “I programmed on that one too, the Commodore VIC 20. And the Commodore 64 too,” he said. “Is there anything you didn’t program on?” I asked. He just smiled.

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Centipede Lives!

Centipede shirt

A little later, Dale noticed an eighties style arcade room up ahead and went in. My son and I stayed in the main hall and looked at a display of recent games. Ten minutes later, Dale found us again, looking slightly disappointed. “They have a Centipede, but the game controller is too worn to play well. Too bad. I won a t-shirt as a top prize in a regional Centipede competition back in the day,” he said.

PainStation Pong—The Gom Jabbar Experience

We looked around and noticed something near the back that might be the “Pain Pong” we’d heard about. It was. PainStation Pong. A large sign above the console warned —The PainStation causes real pain. Both players must be 18 to play. And you had to sign a waiver. A hopeful young German man waited by the console. “I’ll play you,” Dale said. They found a museum employee who gave them the forms. They signed them, and then placed right hand on the control, left on the metal grate of the PainStation. The first to lift his PainStation hand would lose.

Painstation Warning!

The Weather Zen™ Mastermind Triumphs

The game started. Each miss was met with intense heat, a shock, or a rubber hose that spun around and hit the top of their hands. Ouch! They played, round after round. Bright lights from the console began to flash in their eyes, as if keeping your hand on the PainStation weren’t hard enough. Then one bright flash and a whack from the rubber hose and the young man flinched. They rubbed their bruised hands, but both were smiling. “Run cold water over your hand,” a museum employee said, directing them to the restroom next to the PainStation. “It will make the pain go away faster.” “I figured he’d give up quicker than he did!” Dale laughed when he returned from running water over his hand.

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We spent the rest of our museum visit playing less painful games. I asked Dale, recently, if he liked the museum. “Yes,” he said. “It was cool to see the equipment I used to use. And I really liked how some of the exhibits blended the virtual world with the real world, like the one with the virtual balls that bounced off real, moveable blocks. I would love to see a whole arcade of games that mixed the virtual world with the physical.” “And the Pain Pong?” I asked “Yeah” he laughed. “That was interesting. That blended the virtual with the physical. The Pong was virtual. The Pain was real.”

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