How do you run the 100 meters in 7.90 seconds? It turns out the answer is: with sex toys and engineering.
Those of us of a certain age will remember playing Track and Field, an athletics game from Konami available in arcades and on virtually every computer and console of the 1980s. While the gameplay mechanics varied slightly between each event and between platforms, anything that involved sprinting usually came down to nothing more than banging two buttons in an alternating sequence as quickly as possible — hence the development of the term “button masher”.
While some players relied on natural physical skill or brute force (which led to many broken cabinets in arcades), others looked for more creative ways to pound the buttons most effectively.
Indeed, I learned an early physics lesson from a similar game, Daley Thomson’s Decathlon, in which the sprinting mechanism involved waggling a joystick from side to side rather than hammering buttons. My friend Imad and I figured out that the obvious answer was to use the Spectrum joystick’s sucker-pad feet to attach it to a glass-topped table, lift the table in the air, have Imad’s younger brother hold the joystick in place, and then Imad and I each take an end of the table and pull it up and down in rapid succession.
In effect we learned how to use leverage to turn our larger but gentle movements into small but powerful movements of the stick (or rather the base). We also learned exactly how loud Imad’s mum could shout when she walked in on us.
Which brings us to staff at the RocketNews24 site in Japan who figured out that using a Hitachi Wand — promoted euphemistically as a “neck massager” — on a high setting could create vibrations that hit the buttons on a Famicon controller at a rate of 24 prods per second.
That allowed them to destroy real world records in every event in the game, including a 100 meter run in 8.55 seconds.
Of course, that wasn’t quite enough, so they then attached a dildo (non-vibrating) to a power tool and shaved another 0.65 seconds off their time.