Dig Dug was an arcade game published in 1982. It was later ported over to different home video consoles. You control Taizo Hori as he digs through the ground to fight off Pookas and Fygars by dropping boulders on them or pumping them with air until they pop. Today I’ll look into why Taizo Hori can dig into the ground and why he can attack the animals that live underground.

In the United States we passed the General Mining Act of 1872 after the big California gold rush so we could get some rules in place. It lays out the guidelines on how to mine for economic minerals on federal public lands. States can also make specific rules about land they own, and there are restrictions on what you can do on your private land. You’ve probably seen commercials warning you to call 811 before you dig to make sure there are no utilities buried under where you want to dig. The world of Dig Dug seems like it has not gotten as far as we have technologically. Though the Pookas and Fygars can transform into a scary pair of eyes and travel through undug ground; there are never any underground utilities that Taizo Hori has to be worried about breaking. So it may be a land of magic, but it is not a land of plumbing or electricity. It also does not seem to have laws about where you can dig. The General Mining Act of 1872 actually cares about you taking economic minerals from the ground. Taizo Hori never takes anything from the ground; he just goes down there to hunt. Sometimes a fruit or vegetable will appear in the middle of the screen for Taizo Hori to grab, but he definitely did not go down there to gather some fruits and vegetables. Since there is no risk of damaging property when digging in Dig Dug land, and because it looks like there are no valuable minerals in the ground either, people are allowed to dig wherever they would like to.

Dig Dug begins
Dig Dug begins

While Taizo Hori is underground he attacks and kills a lot of Pookas and Fygars. The Fygars look like dragons, and the Pookas look like balloons that wear goggles. I am not sure of what would be a good real world equivalent for either of these. It seems reasonable to believe these animals are not endangered. There are quite a lot of them encountered throughout the game. Also the animals do attack Taizo Hori. If you just sit in the middle of the map and don’t move the Pookas and Fygars will come after you. This is a battle for survival. Taizo Hori should be able to argue self-defense. He has no safe way to escape. You are not allowed to leave the level ever. More digging has to be done after each round. There is simply no escape. If this is Taizo Hori’s property he has an even stronger argument to make.

Taizo Hori pumping up a Pooka
Taizo Hori pumping up a Pooka

There is not that much that happens in Dig Dug. Boulders being dropped on enemies could possibly change the self-defense conversation. Is a boulder excessive force? Probably not. It is probably the same as pumping a monster full of air. The monster is coming at Taizo Hori with deadly force. He should be permitted to return deadly force to it.

There we go. Nothing too crazy this week. In Dig Dug there are no regulations on where people may dig and that is because there is not much personal benefit to it. There are no economic minerals underground and there are monsters that can float through the ground as a pair of creepy eyes trying to kill you the whole time you are down there. No one has a problem with you attacking these monsters in rather fanciful ways to defend yourself. That’s it and that’s all.


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