Exercising Demons

It wasn't easy. It required hours and hours of discipline and focus. The task pretty much swallowed up my entire weekend. However, after thirty years and countless efforts I finally beat the original Castlevania on Sunday afternoon. More importantly, I did it by myself. I didn't use any cheats, I didn't search YouTube for strategy videos, and I didn't call the old Nintendo Gaming Hotline in Seattle for hints (although I think they deactivated that service in 1989). Castlevania wasn't just one of my favorite NES games growing up, it was the first game I played after learning who Mario was. I fell madly in love with it and I've pretty much been obsessed with Dracula ever since. There was only one problem back then: Castlevania was and continues to be a very, very difficult game. If you're under the age of thirty I'm not sure you'll understand how classic gaming worked back then, but let me give you the short version: there were no directions, no walkthroughs, and no built-in teaching manuals that allowed you to get the hang of things as you played. It was classic kill and drill action; trial by fire. You died over, and over, and over, and over, and over again until you learned not to. You either toughed it out and adapted your strategy, or you screamed and cried and threw the controllers against the wall until it broke (I was notorious for doing the latter).

I had never even faced Dracula until earlier today when I made it to his lair for the first time. It took me hours of losses to figure out his pattern until I finally broke the code and lopped off his head. But then I got the ultimate surprise: after all that work, he didn't die; he simply morphed into a flying demon (with a fresh set of energy) that I then had to defeat again. I about fell over! After another two hours, I finally slayed the beast and put three decades of contrition behind me. You see: I was often a quitter when I was younger. I would usually only work as hard as my natural talent would take me, then walk away when adversity struck and things got really difficult. I would look for the easy way out, or find a short cut that would hopefully lead to quicker results. Unfortunately, that level of dedication never got me where I wanted to go—big surprise! It wasn't until I turned twenty-four that I completely broke down my motivations, retooled my head, and started changing my mindset. Today, I'm so far removed from my former self that it's almost difficult to look back. I try to pride myself on perseverance now. As a result, however, I often have little tolerance for those who won't put in the extra effort or go the extra mile with their work. It's more of a gut reaction to my own inner embarrassment, I think. Rather than relate to my former behavior, I try to cover it up with resentment and elbow grease. 

Sometimes I like to go back to old tasks and see how far I've come; to give my demons a little exercise. Remember Castlevania? You gave up on that game as a kid, David. It was too hard. But how about now? Do you have the patience, the determination, and the fortitude to sit down and see the job through? Beating Castlevania should be a resume requirement for employment today. If you can sit down and beat this game without assistance, you can be my assistant. If you can beat the first Megaman, hell....you can have my job!

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll