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John C. Reilly, actor and Atari aficionado

By Jen Chaney
The Washington Post

John C. Reilly – the Academy Award-nominated actor, musician and one-time on-screen “step brother” of Will Ferrell – surely knows something about video games. He provides the voice of the main character in Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph,” a movie steeped heavily in arcade culture.

He was a teenager during the Atari era and seems like the kind of guy who would do well on a trivia quiz, which is why we attempted to give him one … until he heard some of the questions.

“Let’s skip the quiz,” Reilly, 47, suggested after we got to question No. 3. (Which journalist endorsed the home video game console Intellivision? Answer: George Plimpton.

Yes, the questions might have been a little obscure.) “All the gamers will be mad at me” for not knowing the answers.

It’s hard to be angry with Reilly, especially when he confesses that he once was obsessed with “Space Invaders” and enjoys a quality round of “Touch Tanks” on his iPad.

Q: Were you ever really into video games?

I was of the first generation of people that had video games come into their lives. I remember when “Space Invaders” arrived in the bowling alley where I used to hang out. Going from pinball machines to “Space Invaders” was such a quantum leap. It was super-exciting. So needless to say, I spent a lot of money and time . . .

Q: At the bowling alley.

At the bowling alley, and then at the convenience store on the corner. Wherever. Those games used to be everywhere. You could go into any kind of hot dog place and there would be a couple of machines in there.

Q: Do you play video games now?

Every once in a while, if I have a cold or something and I’m laid up in bed. I ended up playing “Touch Tanks,” which is … basically just moving a tank around a board and blowing up other tanks. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that.

In general, those are the sorts of things that I’m drawn to, as opposed to things where you need to memorize the technical aspects of different weapons systems.

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