Crapshoot: The edutainment game that expects you to ‘learn English Or DIE!’

Crapshoot: The edutainment game that expects you to ‘learn English Or DIE!’


From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random obscure games back into the light. This week, there’s only one language some people understand—the language of fear. Welcome to the ESL course Frank Miller would approve of.

Mean City. Don’t worry, they said, it’s just a name. Maybe they’re just proud of their mean population density, or they make a mean curry. What did they mean? There was was only one way to find out, and while nobody had specifically said it would be an idea to bring a fedora, I figured a fedora would be appropriate. If only to cut a mean style…

Mean City. Nice place for a relaxing holiday. If you’re, you know, Batman or someone.

Her name was The Jinx, or so the television said. Terrorist by trade, and that was a first in my line of work—professional troubleshooting for the edutainment industry. You may have heard of my work. The capture of Carmen Sandiego? That zombie invasion from a few years back? You’re welcome, you and your delicious brain. Let’s forget that whole BlobJob incident. That one was weird.

An outright terrorist though? That was the big leagues. I knew this would take more than rudimentary English language skills, just as I knew without the slightest doubt that it would, in fact, not. But would this challenge be? What fresh hell awaited in this decaying dump of the damned?

Aside from that, obviously. That kinda went without saying.

Arriving, I saw my first friendly face—a taxi driver, holding up a sign to let all who saw it know that he was a driver, and had a taxi. My cover for this assignment involved pretending not to speak English, it would not have been… appropriate… simply to wander up and say, “Good morrow, sirrah, please could you see your way to providing swift conveyance throughout your fine metropolis?”

You think these mirrors are good? Got one on the left that lets you see right up my anus, if you like.

“Do you want a taxi?” he asked. I did want a taxi. I didn’t want to blow my cover, or at least, wanted to save such blowage for any femme fatales who happened to be around. To cover, I reached for my phrase book and in my most stilted pronunciation confirmed, “I want some chocolate.”