Gaming, fatherhood, a brotherhood of gamers

Gaming, fatherhood, a brotherhood of gamers

So here’s a little story, from my perspective, about gaming and how it’s affected my friends and I. It’s been ever-present, and important, despite what outsiders might think.

I think gaming is great. I still remember being drawn like a moth to the flame when I saw the tabletop Pac Man at Fuddruckers on North Albert in Regina. (yeah, dating myself here, the restaurant no longer exists.)

Why do I have such vivid memories of arcades and video games? They are seared into my brain. I still remember traveling to Minot, North Dakota for a basketball tournament we had no hope of winning. My favourite part of the entire trip? Saddling up to the Alien versus Predator arcade game with a pocketful of quarters and a gleam in my eye.

I sunk more than $7 worth of quarters (this was when games still cost a quarter to play and “continue”) into that machine. I even bankrolled a couple of the other kids at the other controls so they could keep fighting the Alien Queen in the end-boss fight. We won, we all high-5′d. The feeling of victory was worth it. I still look back upon that memory fondly.

This will make me sound even older to some of you guys, but my dad helped me hook up an old Atari to a black and white TV in my bedroom. (He wouldn’t allow the Atari to be hooked up to the colour TV because it could burn images into the screen.) Those little, dusty, black cartridges held games like Pong, Ms. Pac Man, Centipede, Space Invaders, Dungeons and Dragons and Beserk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntZj5UYGfzs). I played for so long on that old beater of a black and white TV that you could smell the tubes burning in the back after a long session. If the TV acted up, a swift slap on the side would likely fix it.

When I was 7-years-old I got a NES system. My favourite memory from that? My mom waking me up at 3 a.m. to show me that she’d defeated Bowser and rescued the princess. (She swore off video games after that, hasn’t played one since.)

It’s because of gaming that I’m where I am professionally.

Why did I learn DOS? So I could play Duke Nukem, Math Wars and all the other Apogee games on PC.

When my friends wanted to play Command and Conquer, Starsiege Tribes or Starcraft 1, we’d inevitably have to pull apart our machines and install the latest video card, RAM chipset or replace fans and power supplies. Our love of gaming nurtured a fearless curiosity to rip apart those mysterious boxes and learn how the pieces inside worked.

I remember when we set up our first LAN session to play SC1 because the 28.8k dial up was so slow we’d get jammed up on even our basic build orders with “waiting for player” screens. 56k modems were a godsend by comparison. Having to do “without” meant we had to learn and improvise, research and study the technology. All we wanted to do was eat pizza and play video games but we were unknowingly engaged in the best forms of learning: discovery, trial and error, hands on experience.

In highschool, all we wanted to do was program games with Basic, VBasic and C+. I remember my friend’s mom sitting there, mouth agog, fork in mashed potatoes as we scratched out some code on a piece of paper, talking about arrays, sets, IF THEN statements, objects and more. It was all Greek to her.

We learned how to Navigate the various iterations of the dog’s breakfast OS known as Windows. All for games.

The various wives, parents and girlfriends struggle to understand (the same friends’ mother with the mashed potatoes once held an ‘intervention’ with us because she thought our obsession with Diablo 1-2 was the Devil’s work, that our talk of demons and magic was unholy, leading us away from God and confusing the ‘true faith.’ Apparently, when you play until 7 a.m. during summer break, fueled by Mountain Dew and Doritos, eyes dry and red from sleep deprivation, you’re on your way to Hell.)

I shit you not. Nice lady. Didn’t understand computers at all.

Being a gamer has led to jobs! I wouldn’t be working in IT now without the natural interest founded by video games.

Gaming has shaped me as a father, and my son’s development.

Now that I have a kid, I realize he’s growing up in a world where this is all taken for granted. He’ll never know the smell of burned transistor tubes or have to blow the dust out of an NES cartridge to play a game. Wireless will just be a thing, not a revolution.

Coen takes up a lot of time, time I would have otherwise spent gaming, but it’s rewarding in its own way and revelatory in others. He’s a watcher and a learner.

At 12 months, he’s already a techno-baby. He insists on banging away on the keyboard, grabbing at the mouse. We’ve given him our old cell phones sans batteries and he pretends to make phone calls by holding the phone up to his face and jabbering away. He points remotes at the TV and presses buttons and he insists on holding the other Xbox controller when I’m playing. If I leave the battery pack in and actually let him scroll through the menus he gets super excited because he can control the images on the TV.)

I made this video for my cousin-in-law in Wisconsin who used to work for Bioware, he’s a total gamer and he “gets” it. Gets the culture. Gets the headspace of being a gamer:

We’re a brotherhood of sorts:

The whole semblance of being a gamer has meant a global community of people have come together, transcending borders, religious, ideology, race, everything, (because who cares about that stuff when Onyxia needs slaying or those damn Terrans are dropping your mineral line and you’ve got team mates.)

Recently, while a cruise for family vacation, one of the Indonesian crew members spotted my Zerg t-shirt. He got really excited and pointed and me and proclaimed “Zerg!” and then he pointed to himself and said “Protoss!” It was awesome. Here I was on a cruise ship of geriatrics (average age, 65) and the way I made a connection with the crew on the ship was gaming.

Even though his English was broken (my Bahasa is much worse) we were able to sit down and talk about all the games we love. It turned out he was a kitchen manager on the ship and his galley mates had set up a LAN down below in the crew quarters to play Starcraft 2 when they weren’t working. I met with all of them and after a few days I was on a first-name basis with almost all of the kitchen staff. All because of gaming.

Even you guys, the members of Saskgamers, gaming has brought all of us together. Chaos, JLew and many others have spent time teaching me and helping me play catch up on all my builds and timing in SC2. We’re technically strangers, but where else can you sit down at the Uni or barcrafts and shoot the breeze about SC2 without the pretense of formal introductions? I’ve seen various Saskgamers guys around the city since some of the tournaments and barcrafts, my wife sometimes recognizes them before I do,

“Hey, isn’t that the guy from the tournament at the Zone?” and of course, she’s right.

so, yeah, anyway, that’s pretty much the end of my train of thought, feel free to comment below,

TL:DR Gaming’s good. My kid’s going to be a gamer probably.

Original post by Ezekial

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