I Learned Something Today: Dig Dug

If it weren’t for Dig Dug, I’m pretty sure that I would have made the mistake of calling either the exterminator or the X-COM team if I discovered Pookas and Fygars in the sub-surface of my front yard.  Fortunately, I had Dig Dug to teach me in the early days of gaming that the proper way to eliminate these pests is not by hiring subcontractors or highly-trained, monster-hunting government agents but by employing pneumatic pumps and carefully placed deadfalls.

The Lessons of Dig Dug

  1. Monsters are inflatable
  2. Falling rocks are not always bad
  3. Environmental suits are not fireproof
  4. When in doubt, stun and run

Cute and deadly...but inflatable.

Monsters are inflatable

Terry Pratchett once said that mankind has never invented a finer weapon for dispatching monsters than the double-barreled shotgun, including holy water and maybe even Jesus.  He was wrong.  Monsters are most effectively dispatched with a slightly modified bicycle pump.  It turns out that whatever their resistance to things like wooden stakes and silver bullets, monsters are incredibly vulnerable to being filled with air until they pop like a hot sausage and their viscera decorate the walls of your carefully excavated tunnel.  Whether they’re fire breathing dragons or bespectacled orange balls of hatred, no hellish creature can stand up to five pumps from a Serfas Floor Pump mated with a sharpened turkey baster.  I used to keep a shotgun under the bed and a silver crucifix on the wall, figuring I had zombies, werewolves, vampires and aliens all pretty well handled, but now I know better.  Thanks, Dig Dug.

Falling rocks are not always bad

You only need a bike pump to vivisect a Pooka.

Driving along mountain highways, the yellow caution signs warning of falling rocks always made me think that falling rocks were a hazard to be avoided.  Someone really needs to start a campaign to get a big, fat * inserted onto all of those signs because not only are falling rocks helpful in escaping hideous subterranean pursuers and squishing them into goo, if you dislodge two boulders, they provide the vegetable goodness that the FDA keeps recommending we consume more of.  When something can serve as both a deadfall capable of shuffling attackers loose their mortal coils and as a source of a healthy and balanced diet, careful examination of the public policy illustrating falling rocks as harmful to your health is necessary.  I always thought that carrots, turnips and garlic were fibrous, edible roots; zucchini, eggplant and watermelon were types of squash; and green pepper, tomato and pineapple fruits, all produced by plants in order to store energy or reproduce.  How wrong I was – all of those consumables are actually created ex nihilo as soon as you remove the support base of two buried rocks.  Thanks, Dig Dug.

Environmental Suits are not fireproof

I work for a company that regularly handles hazardous materials and, on top of that, I’m the Environmental, Health & Safety compliance guy…so you’d think that I would know the properties of modified Level A Personal Protective Equipment.  Unfortunately, Dig Dug has shown me that manufacturers of safety equipment and OSHA cannot be trusted to rate the effectiveness of suits like this, especially if fire-resistance is in the mix.  While it’s possible that Fygar flames are imbued with magical properties that bypass the fireproofiness of enviro-suits or that their flames are somehow hotter than normal man-made flames without passing into a full-fledged plasma state, I think it is more likely that Dig Dug is accurately portraying the true performance range of these so-called “fireproof” suits.  I used to buy into the conspiracy, but now I know better than to trust mylar-impregnated cloth against fire.  Thanks, Dig Dug.

Just like the cake, the protective nature of this suit is a lie.

When in doubt, stun and run

Historically, events like the Battle of Thermopylae and the Charge of the Light Brigade have been lauded as courageous stands against seemingly insurmountable odds that establish the proper mindset when facing a superior enemy.  Dig Dug, on the other hand, teaches us that history has obviously been heavily edited by meat-heads with no geek-cred (Note: the opposite of Ethan at 1:02:39) because the best way to deal with being overrun by a numerically superior enemy is running, firing in one or two quick pumps of air into your pursuer and running away again, repeating the cycle until an overhanging boulder comes handy or your pursuers separate and allow you to divide et impera.  Forget Leonidas and the 300 Spartans holding the Hot Gates with fearless abandon and follow the dictates of the tactical simulation involving Fygars and Pookas: Stun & Run.  Thanks, Dig Dug.


While it’s impossible to be sure whether those are mole tracks in the vadose zone of the soil or early indicators of an infestation of monsters, it’s critical that you have the right tools to effectively protect your home, family and pets from underground hazards whether they’re ankle-breakers or vicious, evil creatures bent on bloodshed and flesh-rending.  Just like it’s important to keep your receipts and buckle up for safety, keeping abreast of personal safety information like, “How Do You Best Fight Monsters?” and “What Is Really Fireproof?” is something a responsible person does.  The first step to answering these questions is research to gain knowledge (since knowing is half the battle) and resources like Dig Dug are a great place to start.  Thanks, video games.

I Learned Something Today – Who says that video games can’t teach you life skills? Sure they may get you put in prison or banished from society, but they are skills nonetheless. We take an over-the-top look at some of the potential applications of what video games have taught us.