Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Though I've considered myself a gamer for the vast majority of my life, I've only recently gotten into console gaming.  When I was a kid, my parents bought the Magnovox Odyssey in 1977 or 1978 and Odyssey II in 1981, we played Pong on the first one, and had a vast array of mostly educational cartridges for the second. 

I was total crap at playing them.  Big, stinking piles of crap.  I'd push the button and nothing would happen, so I'd push again, and again and again and again and then I'd be dead or have missed throwing the strike in the one baseball game we had.  Frustration plus ADD and the overwhelming need to do experimental archeology (before I knew it was a "thing") generally meant that I was off in the Wilds of Suburban (insert name of whatever town we were living in Here....) doing what I hoped counted as science as I taught myself about the world around me.  And there were the occasional board and card games to play with my folks.  I recall totally cut throat sessions of Uno! that tempered my insatiable competitve streak into something more manageable and sportsman like. 

Needless to say, I didn't have an auspicious start into video gaming. 

At the age of nine, my then best friend Cindy's two older brothers Beau and Patrick introduced my family to Dungeons and Dragons, which lead to being an RPG/tabletop gamer for pretty much the rest of my life.  It also meant that one of my first DMs was my Mom, who played to see what it was that my brother Phillip and I were chittering about a mile at a minute.  RPGs lead me to meet my ex-husband, and introduce my mother to her domestic partner, bonding with my HeLP and daughters...The family that games together, and all that....

When I was in Sixth grade, we got an Apple IIc home computer, and I did some graphics programmes on it, but in the end for my use of it was as my first word processor, even though we had Oregon Trail, Zork! and the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy text based games.  I wasn't overly interested in it after the new tech smell wore off and I got tired of having to fight for my share of time with it. 

It was the same way with the Odyssey II, if it wasn't a two player game, I almost never played because I couldn't get my hands on a controller, or my brother whined like Luke being told to go see to the new droids.  My folks never invested in an Atari or Nintendo anything.  The only Texas Instruments tech we had was a Speak and Spell and a Speak and Math, no TRS-80's for us.

I grew up, continued to use the Apple IIc as a then out of date word processor, and had better things to do than play computer games.  Things like Star Wars RPG, GURPS, D&D, Paranoia, and going to Conventions.  Then I met my ex-husband, we started a family and I didn't have time for Other Gaming.

I opted out of the Magic: The Gathering craze, but did help beta test the first version of the Whitewolf's Vampire: The Masquerade LARP at Magnum Opus Con-8.  And there were occasional bouts of NERO along with the tabletop, and the SCA, conventions, writing and Child molding.

When the PlayStation 1 came out, my ex got hold of one and played Resident Evil until the girls had nightmares (and beyond, really) and yeah, we all cried when Aeris died in Final Fantasy VII, though he was the only one playing it.  I didn't have time for console games, I had discovered the Internet, and that on the internet there is Forum RPGs, free-form writing, chat-room gaming, MUSHes, MOOs and MUXes. 

Every minute of time I wasn't doing something else, like not being awake, or cooking meals for the family, I was connected to a game and typing.  While it did wonders for my typing and spelling (more than the Speak and Spell ever did), I'm sure it contributed to my crumbling marriage.  The more miserable I became, the more I sought an escape, the more I tried to claw my way away from the escape and deal with the issues at hand.

In any case, I kept up the text based gaming for a number of years after the end of the marriage, and into the relationship with the HeLP.  Since he was a gamer too (not a sometimes gamer like the ex) he for the most part has understood.  I generally don't whine that he's not spending time with me when he's on his console if he doesn't wenge about the fact that I've got one more sentence to write before I can send my pose, go AFK and come to dinner.

WOW and DDO came out, and I balked at paying an initial fee for a game, and then a monthly fee to maintain.  He got hooked on DDO, I kept playing with words.  Then DDO went Free to Play, and suddenly my arguement about the cost was gone.  So, since I had my own computer at that point, I tried it out.  Free can't hurt, right?

I was hooked.  Started playing DDO when I wasn't RPing on one of my MUSHes, then it got to the point where it was going to start costing us in micro-transactions to be able to play the next sets of quests, so I became a subscriber.  Even then, I didn't consider myself a video gamer, it's a computer game, DUH! 

Other friends tried to get me into console gaming with HALO and this game or that, usually First Person Shooters, which I totally suck at.  The same frustration I experienced as a tomboy desperate to compete with her male counterparts resurfaced, I was terrible.  Or was it that the tech had yet to catch up to my reaction time?  I push the button, nothing happens, wash, rinse, repeat, death.

The HeLP and I start watching Tech TV and then G4, so I was aware of the games that were coming out for consoles that I wasn't playing.  One day, Morgan Webb reviewed Borderlands, and I had the urge to play this First Person Shooter/RPG mash-up game.  Someone in our peer-group got it, we all played and I didn't feel that same overwhelming sense of 'I'm just points for the other team' and 'no one likes to be the weak link'.  I had to admit at that point, at nearly 37 years old, I became a Video Gamer. 

Then Portal came out.  Now, you have to understand that I love puzzles and puzzle games.  My Windows Phone shows it, as the vast majority of the games on there are puzzle games.  I'm not that fond of games of chance, I prefer games of skill, always testing myself, keeping my mind occupied with something new and interesting to try.  Slowly, my Xbox gamer score crept up because of the games on my phone.

Then in Portal I hit one of those test rooms that for some unknown reason, though you know what you need to do, you just can't seem to get the controller to do what you want it to do.  Days and days passed with me putting the blue portal here, the orange one there, pressing the button, run between, push the other button and then just about the time I've got the reticle centred on where the next portal goes, the doors close and I've failed this set of tasks yet again.  I put the game down and went back to DDO or DCU or both frustrated and too proud to ask for help.

Before I became interested in (or obsessed with, as some might say) Minecraft, we had two Xboxes in the house, one that served to watch Netflix on in the bedroom, as the disk reader's gone more than a bit barmy.  And the other is the one that the HeLP is on nearly every night, generally playing First Person Shooters.  We went through an Odyssey to get the old, half working barmy Xbox working for me to play Minecraft on.  Eventually, a month of laying blocks gets boring, no matter how cool what your building is.  So he loaded Portal onto my Xbox.

Three years have gone by since I played Borderlands for the first time, and was finally able to say with truth in my voice that I'm a video gamer.  Now I'm nearly 40, stepping through the threshold into Middle Age.  It must seem like three years have crept past since I started this post, to you.  But I felt I had to go through my whole sordid Origin Story so that you understand how cool it is to me that, for the first time ever, despite playing other video games...I finally finished my first console game ever.

Tonight, I destroyed GLaDOS.  I beat the first Portal Game.  I AM a Video Gamer....

(No Bibliography tonight, no pictures, just games.  All kinds of games.)

No comments:

Post a Comment