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PaperDude VR

All available technology used to create an immersive version of Paperboy

By John Teti • August 2, 2013

Cultural commentators will argue for years over the various causes that precipitated the rapid decline of print media, but why bother? We all know the moment that marked the beginning of the end for newspapers. It was Atari’s 1984 release of the sinister interactive video propaganda known as Paperboy. The anti-journalistic screed portrayed the nation’s young paper-delivery boys as heedless scofflaws who disrupted traffic, befouled lawns, and terrorized non-subscribers with their tightly rolled missiles of inky newsprint destruction. Is it any wonder that Americans everywhere turned their backs on this thuggish enterprise?

Although Atari’s primary goal was the ruination of modern journalism, Paperboy also succeeded as an amusing arcade game—that handlebar-shaped joystick was hard to resist. And now word comes by way of Wired that a marketing outfit in Toronto has created a modern, unofficial tribute to Paperboy. It’s called PaperDude VR, and it combines the quaint newsprint charms of Paperboy with the modern gaming trend of making you look like an enormous dork. Players of the custom rig simply strap a virtual-reality box on their head, mount a bicycle that only has one wheel, and activate the NSA-approved Kinect camera to immerse themselves in a Paperboy-like world. From there, you pedal the bike and make throwing motions with your empty hand to play, while everybody else in the room laughs and tags photos of your goofy half-bicycle-riding ass on Facebook.

Still, looking silly is probably a small price to pay for what appears to be a heck of a lot of fun. As the Wired article points out, PaperDude VR offers the chance to recreate an experience—a kid’s paper route—that is vanishingly rare in 2013. That’s a nice thought. But the marketing honcho behind the game does a better job of expressing PaperDude’s appeal. “It’s amazingly satisfying when you get one of the papers in a mailbox,” he says. “It’s also entertaining throwing one through a window and hearing the smashing sound.” That’s right. Paperboy has never been about the delivering, or the bike-riding. It has always been about the smashing.

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  • mizerock

    You get points for smashing the windows of non-subscribers, the ones living in creepy, black houses that look like Addams Family lives there. They deserve punishment! Or are those are ex-subscribers, the ones that cancelled their subscription because you missed their driveway / broke their window the previous week? Hmmm. I think I only got past level 2 once, and mostly I would play it in Breezewood during the rest break for the Greyhound driver.

    • http://starttocrate.tumblr.com/ Http Lovecraft

      I don’t think I ever made it past the first obstacle in the construction site, which I seem to recall required completing a 5 day cycle of deliveries…?

  • Mike Mariano

    They should have the bike include rumble for when you get attacked by a dog or run over an oil slick.  Or they can just hire someone to knock you over.

  • Destroy Him My Robots

    Thanks Gameological! I immediately forwarded this to my dad (ex-paperboy and ex-Paperboy player) and now he loves me more!

    • SamPlays

      Come along folks, our work here is done.

  • DrFlimFlam

    You know, you could do this for real and make (very poor) money if you prefer. This is like Virtual Virtual Skee Ball.

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    Hooray, more fun stories of growing up in the armpit of Maine!

    One day when I was around 9 or 10, my father and I were visiting some cousins.  I was bored, so I asked for permission to walk over to 7-11 a couple blocks away to play some arcade games.  I was given a whole $1 to spend.

    I headed down the street, entered and asked the cashier for change.  She scowled at me and said she could only give me THREE quarters for my dollar.  Yeah, if I’d been a little older and/or more assertive I would have threatened to call the cops about that one.  As it was, I dejectedly accepted the lesser amount of change, and checked out the arcade games available.

    They had Paperboy and either Donkey Kong or Pac-Man.  I had played the latter games before, but had never tried Paperboy yet, so went for that one, thinking the handlebar controller was neat.

    About the time I inserted my coin, two older kids came over and started heckling me.  I ignored them, which according to all of the anti-bully advice I’d been given should have defused them, but naturally that never worked.  They resorted to shoving the side of the handlebar controller and ruining the game for me instead.  I yelled at the cashier to stop them, which of course she couldn’t be bothered to do.

    I walked back to my cousin’s house, pissed off and hurt at the same time, a common occurrence in that time of my life.

    The moral of the story?  Sanford, Maine is a cesspool with no redeeming qualities and should be razed to make room for empty fields and forests.

    • Joey.blowey

       Sounds like somebody has a case of the Mondays.

    • SamPlays

      When you mentioned armpit, I automatically thought you grew up in New Brunswick. After further contemplation, New Brunswick is more like the giant, slightly discolored mole sitting on the perimeter of the armpit.

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        Ah, the Bath area is pretty poor scenery-wise, if I recall.  But Sanford takes the cake for the worst people, IMHO.  I had ten times more problems with jerks and bullies in Sanford than in any other part of southern Maine I lived in.  (Portland, Westbrook and Waterboro were okay.)

        • SamPlays

          My only memories of visiting Maine include shopping in Houlton, eating at the Bonanza in Presque Isle, and pining to visit the Toys R Us in Bangor. The drive to those places was pretty enjoyable. There was always this convenience store/gas bar we stop at and I remember buying the Batman (1989) trading cards out at the time.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          1989 was the year I finally got OUT of Maine and moved to central California.

          The drive to pretty much anywhere in the state is nice, unless you’re trying to go through Wells or Ogunquit on Route 1 during the summer.  Two hour waits to travel 5-10 miles really suck.  I was pleased with myself when I went back to visit on my own for the first time in 2001 and was able to remember most of the back road shortcuts my parents had driven on when I was younger, but had never driven myself.

          Every time I go back to visit, we take my grandmother to eat at the Bonanza in Sanford, as it’s her favorite restaurant.

  • boardgameguy

    i liked this line so much i’d just like to highlight it again: “From there, you pedal the bike and make throwing motions with your empty hand to play, while everybody else in the room laughs and tags photos of your goofy half-bicycle-riding ass on Facebook.”

  • Joey.blowey

    Holy shit this is cool
    I used to play Paperboy back when I was an actual paperboy.
    In real life paperboy I hit more mailboxes than in arcade paperboy.

  • SamPlays

    I’m still waiting for a simulator that will allow me to go door-to-door as a Jehovah’s Witness soliciting for “thoughts” on divisive, morally-ambivalent topics (“What are your thoughts on sin in today’s world?”) and handing out printed materials that end up in the paper recycling bin.