How I spend the better part of my life

I have always been a gamer. When Atari hit the shelves back in the early 80’s, or when it hit our television set to be more specific, I was absolutely hooked. I was intrigued especially by the game Adventure. The game wasn’t much to look at, and seems beyond horribly cheesy by today’s standards, but back in the day that was my first experience with honest-to-gosh action/adventure games. My fascination with Adventure would actually go on to influence my console purchases over the next decade or so.

I must have been about 14 or so when we got our first Nintendo. There were several games that came along with it (I believe we bought the system with games at a yard sale), one of which was The Legend of Zelda. I was an instant addict. Here was an adventure game that was far more expansive than my previous experience in the genre, and there were actual graphics and gameplay! Many times I stayed up overnight playing that game, forever trying to save the princess.

There were a couple of other games for the Nintendo that caught my fancy for a time back then. Faxanadu is the first one that leaps to mind. That stands out in memory as the only adventure type game that I was never able to complete. This may have been because I never actually owned the game, so my play was limited to the 24 hours I could get it from the video store back then.

I was 16 at this point, and had just started working. When I decided to buy a console of my own, Zelda and Faxanadu would influence my decision a great deal. In an odd twist however, they would actually lead me away from the Nintendo platform.

A teenage gamer is a pretty shallow creature, and I was of that group. My friends were based more on their machines and game selection than their character or even whether I actually liked them. The next generation of consoles was just hitting the market, the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo were in competition for my paycheck and in due diligence, I made it my mission to play every title I could on both systems before making a purchase.

I chose the Sega. I made that choice for basically two reasons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun and Shadowrun. Warriors of the Eternal Sun carried on my love for the fantasy genre. It was the next similar to Zelda, but with better graphics, a better interface, all the things that influence my game purchases today. Shadowrun was completely different. This was my first experience with a more Sci-Fi type fantasy. I absolutely loved this game, but was never able to get involved in any other games from this genre (although I am still anxiously anticipating the release of Hellgate:London, just to see if the fire still burns).

When I moved to Arizona, I came without a console. The Playstation was released a couple of years after I got here, and I bought one of those as soon as I could. This would be my first experience with Final Fantasy, and it would last for many releases thereafter. There were many, many other similar games for the playstation platform. While I remember Suikoden and Vandal Hearts as being a couple other favorites, I also remember that they were just the ones I happened to grab out of dozens of similarly themed games.

When my wife and I got our first PC, I was still playing games on the playstation. As a result of that, she spent a lot of time playing games on the PC. She started playing a game called Diablo. While I played it in bits and pieces, I was never able to get as involved in it as she was -what with my neverending quest to save my girlfriend awaiting me on the playstation. However intrigued I may have been by the initial Diablo game, I was still a console gamer.

Sometime in the year 2000, my wife made mention that she would really like to get a new game for the PC. It was Diablo II. Being the loving husband, I bought the game for her. Our PC was so ancient at the time though that I often had to tweak a lot of settings to make games run, so I wanted to install it and make sure it was playable before she made it home from work that day. That was what I would really consider the precise moment that my gaming went from a pass time to an (unhealthy?) obsession. I just stepped out of the little village to make sure everything was loading correctly, make sure the machine wouldn’t freeze up, etc. Hours passed. It was with reluctance that I let her play it when she got home later that day.

I bought a laptop computer later that year, as well as another copy of Diablo II. That way we could both play it at the same time. When the Lord of Destruction expansion was released, we got two copies, on the day they were released. When we moved from our studio apartment to an actual house, we set up a room for the PC, but I mostly played on the laptop so that I could watch TV with her in the living room.

I continued playing Diablo II: Lord of Destruction well after she had given it up. And would probably still be playing it were it not for a chance click-through on an ad at the website. “E3 for everyone!” it said. A demo weekend of a new game called Guild Wars. We both enjoyed that game so much that by the time of its release, we had a second computer set up in the “office”. We would go on to get headsets to communicate with other people in the game and eventually buy multiple accounts..each..

The simplicity of Guild Wars would lead to it falling out of favor in our house. Character level max was only 20, so it was possible to take a character from creation to max level in a day (if helped) and with a limited amount of gear and skills, your character was no different than anyone else’s. With one patch they started offering titles for certain goals. Protector of Tyria, for instance, was available to those who had completed all missions and bonuses on the Tyrian continent. This was what we did to keep ourselves playing the game after having completed it on multiple characters.

Then Guild Wars made a huge mistake. They were going to implement difficulty levels. You would have to complete all the missions and bonuses on Hard to get a title. So we would have to go back and replay every mission to get the title. This pissed off the wife something fierce. In fact I think it was on that very day that she downloaded World of Warcraft.

With multiple characters, multiple professions, and 70 character levels, this one takes a while to get through. I don’t remember exactly when we started playing it, but we have been playing it ever since leaving Guild Wars. 1 person from our old guild made the switch with us, and it has been a lot of fun bringing up our new characters from lowly n00bs -especially so after having had all the elite gear that Guild Wars had to offer.

So that is where I have been all this time, and where I will likely be going as soon as I hit publish on this post. While I have made it to level 70 with one character, I have others at 53, 51, 46, 35 & 15 that I still need to play. Plus even the highest level one (a mage named Nukenheimer ((I wanted to name him Oppenheimer but didn’t think anyone would know who that was))) hasn’t maxed his professions yet.

And once I have completed all the goals I have in this game, I am sure that there will be another to take its place.

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