Friday, July 27, 2012

Game. Gamer. Gamest.

About 15 years ago my dad had lunch with some former business associate. My dad told me this man asked about me; asked if I was still playing games by myself. What? Who is this guy? I have never heard of him. I don’t recall ever meeting him. He apparently met me when I was a kid and this is what he remembers? How did this man know?

I have always been able to entertain myself. I have always played games by myself. All I needed was a little time and my imagination. Props were nice but not required. I was imagining games by myself long before there was such a thing as video games.

When I became a teenager arcade games were just coming into their own. I would ride my bike several miles to a shopping mall that had a video arcade. Missile Command. Galaga. Star Castle. Asteroids. We got an Atari and Pitfall was the game of choice. Arcade games were fun but they lacked depth.

In my early to mid-high school years I was friends with some guys that introduced me to bookcase games. Bookcase games came in boxes that resembled large books, and you stored them on a shelf, on their sides, like books. These games had depth; often too much complexity. These were all top-down strategy games. You can still find them in the computer gaming world. Markers that represent units, moved around a map (usually with hexagons). We played a World War II in the Pacific game where the game map was 12 feet by 12 feet! Setup in one guy’s garage. Accompanied by a thick rule book.

Didn’t do much gaming during college. Too busy drinking every Wednesday thru Sunday nights. But after college I returned to gaming. I found a few bookcase games designed to play solo. My favorite one concerning carrier battles during the Solomon Islands campaigns.

In the early 90’s I began to search for a computer game to play. This was before the multi-media explosion. I found it in Empire Deluxe. An easy to play, top down strategy game. You could play solo, or exchange turns via email, or even play live over the world wide web. I played the shit out of that game.

Then multi-media was ushered in. Lots of people had computers, and then you could upgrade with a CD-ROM, a sound card, and speakers. Usually a few games were included, like Myst. Seems kinda lame now, but in its time Myst was pretty dang good. So, computer gaming here I come; perfect for the little boy who has no problem playing alone.  I mostly played strategy games and first-person shooters. Civilization. Masters of Orion. Half-life. Doom.

I knew of online games, the massively multiplayer online games; World of Warcraft being the dominate player. I was never much into games with magic; I preferred sci-fi elements. I was reluctant to jump into online gaming because I knew once I started I would be all in. So I hesitated, and waited for something that really interested me.

I had heard of EVE Online, and knew that when I did jump into online gaming it would be with the space-based EVE. One afternoon I was reading a science fiction novel dealing with space travel, and I just set down the book and signed up for EVE Online. That was 2007.

Just as I figured, EVE is pretty much the only computer game I play, much to the chagrin of my son who used to like to watch me play certain games, they were like movies to him. Course, now he just plays his own.

I haven’t watch network television since around 2000. I only got back into TV shows once I could stream entire seasons over Netlfix in one weekend. I watch a few shows now but do so because my kids are into them. Something we share and discuss. Where some people watch TV most evenings I play EVE. Where some people might go to the movies I play EVE. I haven’t played any other computer game in years. If I am spending a few hours with computer gaming  then I spend it on EVE.

And what is EVE Online? It is anything you want it to be. You fly around in space ships and do what you want; not without consequences, of course. You can build, buy, sell, destroy, repeat as necessary. Mine, manufacture, invent, pirate, mercenary, whatever.  I choose to be an industrialists. I procure different raw materials, sell some and use some in manufacturing.

What I like about Eve is the accomplishments. Completing tasks, achieving goals, acquiring certain things. Heck, it is just like life.

Whether you see it as a strength or as a character flaw, I have no problem being alone. I can always find ways to entertain myself.

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