Atari Poop – Sneak ‘n’ Peek
When someone (tried asking who it was, but I never got a reply… sorry, whoever you are) first suggested on Twitter that I review Sneak ‘n’ Peek, I decided to head to Youtube to have a look. I’d never played the game as a kid and actually hadn’t heard much about it before. I had a vague idea that it was basically hide and seek, but that’s it. It sounded like a really stupid concept to turn into a game, and thus perfect Atari Poop fodder.
Here’s the video I found:
I thought to myself, “How hadn’t I heard about this absurd Atari sex game?!” Damn, I was sure I had discovered all of the terrible 2600 sex games, but it appears I was wrong. To top it off, the game looked much better than those other ones, didn’t feature the humiliation, degradation, and objectification of women, and better yet, since the game features only two male characters, manages to be decades ahead of not only the video game industry, but also mainstream popular culture with its positive portrayal of homosexuality.
What? Oh… that’s supposed to be a second arm and not some pixelated boner? But why is it so… long? It just seems… weird. I mean, come on, look at the dude in the middle of the Atari Poop banner and tell me that doesn’t look like a grey 2600 wang. Well, if I can’t run around with a mega-boner in this game, I’ll go listen to some Devo.
I then promptly forgot about the game for a couple of months, but then it all came back to Devo. I know what you’re thinking: It always does.
You see, while on my Devo fix, I listened to “Whip It” and remembered how the song was about the subjugation of Latin America by the United States, and that got me thinking about Sneak ‘N’ Peek, and the the hidden subtext to the game just hit me. Sneak ‘n’ Peek is a game where you play hide and seek alright, but only on the surface. Behind yet another masterfully disguised veil of mundane and gimmicky gameplay in an Atari game, waited a much deeper and uglier truth: Sneak ‘n’ Peek is, at its core, an allegorical video game about privacy and government’s intrusion into the lives of its citizens.
In Sneak ‘n’ Peek, one player hides in one of three areas: living room, bedroom, and front yard, each with 5 hiding spots. The other player then has to go find him. In 2 player mode, player 1 literally has to close his or her eyes or look away; otherwise, they will see where player 2 is going to hide. Essentially, you have to trust the other player and believe they won’t peek. That small bit of doubt from a single two player game is all it takes for Sneak n’n Oeek to get into your head, and before you know it, you’re wearing a tinfoil hat.
You see, the fact that you doubt player 2 kept his eyes closed while you hid seeps into your thoughts later while you’re playing against the computer. It doesn’t help that the computer always seems to have no trouble finding you, making you wonder if the game isn’t rigged. It only gets worse from there as it slowly dawns on you that each of the three areas in the game represent an aspect of your life. The front yard represents your public life, the living room represents your day-to-day private life, and the bedroom represents your sex life.
“The Cold War, Watergate, McCarthyism: Spies were everywhere! Holy shit! Every time I use the phone, send a letter, borrow a book from the library, or even just talk to someone, someone is watching me. I can feel it. Time to head to the grocery store for some tinfoil.”
In all honesty, if this game were rebooted today, the Internet age with its Anonymous and Wikileaks, I believe it would cause mass hysteria.