It brought me back — waayyyy back — to my college days, when I used to go to the arcade and play Mortal Kombat II in an effort to meet boys. I figured that as the lone girl in a dark dungeon full of boys, I would have my pick of dates. That strategy turned out to be a bomb. The only reason my fellow players there paid any attention to me at all was that I was an easy-to-beat opponent.
If you know anything about Mortal Kombat, you know that it pits highly lethal — and belligerent — characters against each other in a duel to the death. You also know that by manipulating the punch and kick buttons and the joystick in certain combinations, you can get the characters to perform certain “moves” and “fatalities.” I always played the same character — Mileena — and I only really knew how to do one signature move for her. I could make her do a “roll” by moving the joystick Back-Back-Down and then pressing ‘High Kick.’ Onscreen, Mileena would go into a tuck and “cannonball” through her opponent.
Needless to say, my one move didn’t get me very far. I remember one boy, Eugene, who was always happy to play me. Tall, dark, and pimply, Eugene would light up when I came around. “Hi Mare,” he would say, “ready to finance my gaming afternoon?” Because that’s what I did — in an arena where the loser always paid, I would insert quarter after quarter after quarter, all for the pleasure of getting decapitated, frozen, uppercut, and exploded by him. Eugene’s personal favorite fatality was to turn his character into a dragon and bite Mileena’s head off. So much for romance.
After one of these afternoon sessions, Eugene told me, “Maybe you should branch out more…you know, learn more than one move. Because you’re kind of predictable. And besides, it wouldn’t be so hard on your wallet.” Well, doggoneit, it was a good lesson then and it’s a good lesson now, one that applies particularly well to my current industry — data integration.
Just like my Mortal Kombat skillset, most IT departments have a limited repertoire when it comes to data integration. Typically, they will research a bunch of Eclipse-based integration platforms that require extensive knowledge of Java to use, throw highly technical (and precious) developers at the problem, have them write a lot of custom code, and then pay the Eclipse-based vendors a lot of money for consultants to maintain and upkeep it every year. For 30 years now, that’s been their “one move.”
I can’t blame IT 100%, though…the integration software industry has been slow to develop easy-to-use tools, and custom coders have been reluctant to give up their stranglehold on spaghetti code development — after all, it guarantees job security when you are the only one who can decipher your own code. So it’s the fault of the integration software vendors, really, that IT is stuck with one move. They could have, for example, figured out a simple way for business users to do integrations, allowing highly technical programmers to focus on more strategic initiatives. Just sayin’.
What I’m doing is letting myself off the hook, because what I’m really saying is that Mortal Kombat II was just too hard of a platform for me to play, with its complex combinations of button-mashing and joystick-wrenching. It kept the expertise firmly in the hands of the highly dexterous and coordinated, while leaving wannabes like me in the dust.
The good news is that Mortal Kombat X is apparently a) free to play and b) heavily simplified, allowing you to attack by simply touching the screen. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Eugene better watch out — I’m going to kick his digital hiney at our 25-year college reunion.