. No Extra Lives While all his friends were learning skills To gain them wives or pay their bills, John fought with monsters on a screen, Got knighted by a game world’s queen, Amassing troves of digi-treasure That bought eight bits of gaming pleasure. But as the habit lasted longer, John’s dungeon shackles grew much stronger. His friends moved on and all gained wives While he sat gaining extra lives— One-upped by men just half his age Who’d put in time and earned life’s wage. One day, much older, John awoke And felt his electronic yoke: No friends, no wife, and children none, His life still stalled at World 1-1. No princess wishes to be saved By a gaming hero thus enslaved. John’s game-themed room now seemed a waste, An emblem of his time misplaced. No dragon’s hoard of jewels and gold Could buy back time and youth he’d sold For shiny bits of program code— He wept beside perdition’s road. But, leaving home and breaking free, He had no guide for strategy. The social world seemed too complex To a man who lived in pixel specks, And so he ran back home to game, Never quitting, to his shame. The moral of this tale in rhyme? Work while you’re young, don’t waste your time. Don’t put your life goals off till later; Shoot down your schedule’s space-invaders, Or, like our captured gamer guy, You’ll find your life has passed you by. . Poet's Notes: Eight bits: Early video games were run on processors that could only run eight bits (binary digits) per data block; this constraint gave rise to their distinctive graphics and sound effects. Extra lives: additional chances to play, gained by obtaining certain items or otherwise playing well; also known as “1-ups,” hence the next line. World 1-1: the first obstacle course in the first themed section of a finite video game using a particular coordinate system. Strategy guide: a step-by-step manual detailing solutions to a particular video game. . . Joshua C. Frank works in the field of statistics and lives near Austin, Texas. His poetry has also been published in the Asahi Haikuist Network.