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These Pen Pals Have Been Playing Mortal Kombat Turn-by-Turn via Mail Since 1993


NAPERVILLE, Ill. — Long-distance friends Milton Schmidt and Clayton Houston have been playing the same match of the video game Mortal Kombat for almost thirty years by painstakingly mailing moves to one another, sources familiar with the story and vintage video games report.

“We both keep a Sega Genesis on pause in each of our homes. When you get a letter you enter the move into the 2nd player controller, then decide the counter move, write it down on a postcard and mail it back,” Schmidt explained after opening the latest letter from Houston. “See here Clayton wrote ←, → + LK and since he has been playing as Johnny Cage for decade I know it is a shadow kick. I am Raiden, so I am going to reply with ↓, ↑ to teleport away from his move.”

Houston, who lives almost one thousand miles away in Wyoming, appears to be just as involved in their match as his opponent.

“This isn’t about how fast you are or how many codes you know. This is a battle of wits where you have to think four or five moves ahead of the other guy,” Houston said while playing Mortal Kombat 11 online on his other television. “But to say it has been a stalemate for thirty years is an understatement. It’s not quite like 3-D chess because I don’t have to think four moves ahead. I already know what he is going to do. No one has landed a blow since I accidentally misread a B for a D.”

Video game historian Dewey Rodriguez stated that this actually isn’t all that uncommon. 

“Chess isn’t the only game played by mail. I have heard of people playing Twilight Imperium via postcards and there are a few veterans that play Call of Duty via intricate thirteen-page play-by-play letters. Just because they are called Video Games doesn’t mean you have to play them at the same time on the same system. Don’t get me started on the LARPing community of Stardew Valley. Some people just call them farmers but we know the truth.”

As of press time, Schmidt replied with a Torpedo move that will devastate Houston in 7-9 business days.