Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Gaming Monster: Story of Girl Gamer #1138

I've decided to keep this one (blog) general, not really directed at anyone or focusing on any one thing. If anyone happens to stumble upon it that's great. But, mostly, I'm blogging this one for myself, to keep track of my feelings on games and the act of gaming as it evolves for me and as I evolve for it. To try and figure out why is it that people look at me sideways when they discover my interest in games goes beyond shooting bubbles at other bubbles in stupid Facebook games. As it were.

So, without further ado, here's the impact gaming has had on me growing up.

Curse these damn lizard fingers!
I've always been a gamer. Even when I was little I would get so upset because my mother frowned at buying me videogames, not because they were violent or lacked educational value but because they were expensive and she didn't see the point. I remember really begging for Diablo when it came out and what I got was something called Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny.

I never could play more than 10 minutes of the thing as my proficiency with the English language was, at the time, somewhat lacking and I could not, for the life of me, understand why I was suddenly turned into a lizard and bashed to death by.. whatever it was that did the bashing. Why was the game doing this to me? My meager language skills could propel me only so far and, all of a sudden, it would rob me of whatever knowledge I had gathered and bounce me into a completely different set of rules. I do remember the image on the manual and box, the face of a man perpetually locked in uncontrolable terror by the power he wielded. I dreamed of the day when I would find out what exactly lay beyond that lizard-turning cave. But I never did. Bottom line is, I have no idea what that game was about, whether it was good or utter shit but it was a milestone. It was my first complete noob experience.

Later I played Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital (I miss Bullfrog...), Constructor and Age of Empires. I had never realised until recently how all those games fall under the same genre. I also played a lot of Command&Conquer: Red Alert (Westwood again) and I remember how I perched on the edge of my seat as I placed my Tesla Coils and my eyes lit up when my dogs mauled enemies to pieces. Until this day I still have a very particular way of saying "acknowledged" and often I'll blurt out, for no reason at all, "ready and waiting" or "on hold... cancelled."
"Warning! Incoming patients with Bloaty Head."
But later, as I got older and my role as a female in modern society was made clear to me, I realized I was the only girl in my class who knew of the latest releases, who knew a few gaming company names, who shared the boys' enthusiasm when a new console came out. It was a bit lonely, especially when you come to that age when boys and girls aren't platonic friends anymore. I was the weird one. I wasn't much into shopping or gossiping or makeup or high heels or being the first one to get to wear a bra. I took part of those conversations as a neutral observer, the wise-ass joke-cracker. I'm pretty sure that it was this tage of my life that made me grow up to be the objective bystander I am today.

It wasn't until I discovered the internet that I found somewhere I belonged. I don't know exactly what drove me to do it or how it happened but I remember going through the motions of setting up an ISP account by myself without realizing that what I was doing would have serious repercussions in our phone bill. My mother and I would have epic bouts of yelling and we would end up hiding the modem cable from each other. A few years ago I confessed to her that my hiding place was inside my Lego box. Oh, how we laughed.

Online I found a world of information about my second favorite hobby and, most importantly, I found a community where I felt like I belonged, a community where I was, in fact, considered a good catch. I can safely say that the bulk of my current pool of friends stemmed from that first interaction with the virtual world.

When I turned 15 though, my gaming was down to Maxis (The Sims and the god-like Sim City 3). Although it entertained me to no end and influenced my taste in music greatly, I still felt like there was something missing. A boyfriend introduced me to the world of pirated Playstation games and, man, those were the days.

You must realize that, at the time, some very good games (namely some j-rpgs) were not released in Europe and, even if they were, they never reached the western most corner. His room was crowded with spindles filled with copies of both NTSC and PAL copies of games, some in English, some in Japanese, most of them good but not all, of course. Suddenly my room was crowded with empty cases and unmarked recordable CDs, battered by neglect and the forces of the elements, now left forgotten inside boxes in my mother's house.
It was only much later, though, that I finally delved into MMOs.

But that's a story for another day.

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