Gone are the days of Solitaire. Hearts and Minesweeper are all but obsolete. Classic computer procrastination techniques of yore have been usurped by flashy new Internet games on countless media-related sites. By putting up with a few MSN ads, the joy of online Jeopardy and "Las Vegas Casino" can be yours. Contestants beware: game chat rooms can suck hours (and e-mail addresses) away.
Boxerjam.com, the most elementary of Internet diversions, has four word games for self-proclaimed anagram and crossword aficionados. "Out of Order," seemingly the most popular with over 2,000 players at one time, scrambles words in sentences and famous quotes--the first to unscramble the words gets the most points. Linguistics concentrators and English majors may be stumped however; these words are supremely pop-culturesque or simply arcane. Chatting away in a box below the game action, contestants try to destroy each other's concentration with annoying comments.
Upping the ante of the Internet game-venues isn't hard. Sonygames.com takes all its regularly televised shows and converts them into cyber-contests. "College Jeopardy," "Wheel of Fortune" and "Trivial Pursuit" can all be accessed via a glitzy game page. Compete with BABYSNATCH from Arkansas and Slappy05 from Pittsburgh for world domination with a virtual Alex Trebek. Otherwise, the most intriguing SonyGame is obviously "The Dating Game." By creating a "virtual you" with Japanimation body parts and facial features, meet the love of your life by answering questions such as "what is the most erotic thing about a spoon?" By beating hussies like flirtygirl33 and the veteran lilkutie4u, you'll have a private chat room and a match made in...cyberspace.
For even more trashy games and retro chic, head to virgin.net/games for mini-golf, pool, football and celebrity trivia, and the world-renowned "big ass card game." For the Garbage-Pail-Kid generation, Pacman, Frogger and Arkanoid are still alive and kicking. Chat rooms are not integrated into these games--but did you ever want to hand over the joystick to Player Two?
--F. G. TILNEY