Growing up, the seemingly interminable school-week gave way to an anxious car drive home from the rental store with the weekend’s score. You remember those, right?
Usually the rental would include the instruction manual. On the ride home, I’d pour over the manual, trying to glean useful information to supplement my Nintendo Power-fueled strategies to maximize my fun in the limited time I had with the game. Often I’d get so engrossed with the manual, learning the universe for the game, I’d let my brother or a friend play the game first.
The looming question, not covered in the manual, was always: When will my turn end? When will my brother run out of lives, so I can get a turn?
We developed a vocabulary to deal with the count down to game over. On your first play-through it was unclear whether the last life was when your stock counter read 1 or 0. If you had one life left, you could play extra hard, using a rush of adrenaline to try to stay alive longer.
Sometimes, it was game over when the stock counter ticked over from 1 to 0. In other games, when the stock counter reads 0, zero is a life.
The name of this blog comes from that reassuring sense that you have an extra chance. “Don’t worry, zero’s a life.”