War Games

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"I did it for almost a year, spent a ton of money on it. And it was probably all just because of the game," he says a few days after Desert Bash, hanging out with Czechowski and fellow LanCamper Brian Lick in the front yard of his north Phoenix home. "I went out and dropped 15 grand on flying lessons I'll probably never use in my future. It's not something I wanna do with my life. But when I learned how to fly in the game, I just wanted to compare it to the real thing. And sure enough," he adds, in his amiable country drawl, "it was dang close!"

The real flying experience, Young feels, has given him an edge at piloting the helicopters in the game. "TeNjin's the other good pilot in LanCamp," he says, motioning toward Czechowski, "but he hasn't flown the real thing."

"That doesn't make you better!" Czechowski protests.

"You say it doesn't, I say it does."

Young criticizes the latest update to his favorite game for making it just a little too easy for players to keep the choppers steady. "In Battlefield Vietnam, when you pull up on the collective, it'll stay up," he says. "But in real life, if you let go of the collective, the helicopter starts to come down. And in Desert Combat, that's the way it was: You had to cap to keep it up.

"Now," Young says, "anybody can fly the helicopters. And that's not the way it should be. I spent a year of training on flying -- not just in the game, but in real life, too -- and I was considered the best pilot. Now, in Battlefield Vietnam, anybody can be the best pilot."

Young still thinks his actual chopper experience puts him at an advantage in the game, if only because his understanding of helicopter dynamics gives him a better idea of how to take one out from the ground.

"What do you think, TeNj?" he finally says at one point. "Could I take down a helicopter with an RPG?"

"You mean, in real life?" Czechowski asks.

"Yeah," Young answers, extending his left arm up under an imaginary rocket-propelled grenade launcher. "I mean, if I ever got the chance to shoot a real RPG at a helicopter. I think I could probably lead it enough to take it down by at least the fourth shot."

"Yeah," Lick offers, sitting down on the porch with his wife and young son. "You might have to take a couple of practice rounds, but you might be able to take it out."

Young just smiles.

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Jimmy Magahern
Contact: Jimmy Magahern