I do not know for certain that I have ever played Arkanoid before. And yet it is as familiar to me as anything. It's a classic Breakout clone - a genre of games that constitute an almost primordial stage of video games, the barest sliver of content separating them from Pong. It's the default game on the Blackberry, for God's sake. I can play it like I was born for the task. I don't remember the first time I played a Breakout style game. There is no trick to it for me. There is no lag of unfamiliarity, or feeling about for my way. There are only my fingers twitching out their already known moves.
Arkista's Ring is more complex - a sort of action puzzler based on clearing monsters out of an area, grabbing the key, and exiting. It is a game I had never heard of, little yet played. This too, however, eases down to a familiar patter - a few minutes of finding a rhythm and I can work my way through the levels. I cannot express this rhythm through any means other than play. It is known only by my fingers. But I slip into it easily enough, my body inhabiting this external role.
This is more than muscle memory. My nervous system becomes the completion of an entire circuit of processing and strategy. Well below the level of thought I dance my thumbs along the buttons. Change controllers, change levels, the result is the same. My nervous system is as programmed as the cartridges themselves, circuitry wired into a lump of flesh instead of plastic. The particulars of the game barely matters. I can thumb out the rhythm of a new game as easily as I can walk down an unfamiliar street. My nervous system plays games, the same way it walks, eats, and sleeps. My eyes see paths of movement and timing like they see social situations or tools. I play games with my genetic memory.
I cannot have been born doing this, even if I do not remember a time when I did not play video games. But I may as well have been. Arkanoid's paddle may as well be a mastodon thundering over the horizon, scattering avenues of escape across the landscape. The ball bounces off the paddle, and I dutifully kindle fire for my dinner. I did not write myself. I am Player 2 in my own body.