Parallel Universe   

We've both had our share...of believing too long, when the whole situation was wrong...

If you're not sure what I'm referring to, hop over and read Sunday and Monday's Double Agent columns.

Normally I don't get involved when people start arguing the merits and dismerits of gaming as a hobby, a lifetime pursuit or even a career. I really don't care about any of the media and hype, both positive and negative, surrounding the industry, and I'm probably far from what anyone would consider "hardcore".

On the other hand, gaming has probably molded my life more than anything else in the world - it's probably tied with music for the number one spot. My involvement in gaming, and especially with the GIA, has resulted in some of the greatest friends and lovers my life has ever known. Yes, I'm being completely serious - and you're still free to scroll past this at any time.

Funny fact: I have never dated, or even kissed, someone that was not a gamer. And every serious relationship of mine, and at least 3/4's of my closest friends, have been/are gamers. Granted, some are more avid than others, but the numbers still talk.

Why is this?

Why is it that I've dated people who are different religions and family backgrounds than me? Who are not musicians, writers or artists...but I just can't imagine dating someone who isn't a gamer?

Is gaming that ingrained in who I am?

Maybe it's because people can respect me for being a musician or a writer without being one themselves - it's still usually something they have enough experience with in the world at large to understand where I'm coming from. But if a person is not a gamer, it's highly unlikely they will respect you for being one, or understand what motivates you to be so involved in such a thing - unlike something like music or art. Maybe it's the negative publicity gaming receives - or maybe it's simply because it just hasn't been around for centuries.

Does that make sense? no? Well, it's the only explanation I can come up with based on my experiences.

Speaking of experience, let me tell you about gaming as my personal hobby, and not in such an abstract sense. This relates to further on in this rant, I promise.

We did have an Atari when I was a child - I remember Kaboom, specifically - but the real first impact would be the NES my younger brother received for his birthday the year I turned nine. We had just moved to a new town in a new state, and starting third grade, I was somewhat shy and utterly friendless. The three cliques of girls in my class shunned me because I was new, and so for the first few weeks of school, I spoke to no one. One fine day, right after lunch, a circle of boys stood crowded around some desks, looking at a map, arguing the location of a certain blue ring in a certain second quest of The Legend of Zelda. Now, I was never fond of the fighting/shooting games my brother indulged in, but when Zelda entered our house, the NES stole my attention away from my own story writing. My brother assigned me to reading every Nintendo Power that came in the mail, so that I would know how to get him out of wherever he was lost. My father even hand drew maps for all the dungeons, complete with enemy names and colour coded staircases. So when I heard these boys argue, I walked right up, elbowed my way into the circle, and thrust a finger at the map. Incredulous that a girl would dare to know something about a game that they didn't, I'm sure they must have all gone home that night to see if I was right. The very next day I was accepted into their circle, and so I sat with the boys for the rest of the year.

It's no wonder I've never been interested in "normal" girl things like clothes, make-up and those ridiculous magazines.

At any rate, I can't say another game really hooked me until the SNES Zelda came along. I always spent more time watching my brother and reading than playing, so when he got stuck getting through the thorny maze to the first Dark World palace and I had no easy answer, he promptly gave up and went outside to play basketball. I think this was the first time I had ever dared play one of *his* games without him. (My parents had always given me games like Barbie, Mickey Mouse and Wheel of Fortune, most of which bored me very quickly.) I promptly got my ass kicked several times in a row before I managed to get the hang of it, and find my way through that thorn maze. My brother was so overjoyed when I called him inside that he snatched the controller back, and I happily watched him play the next ten hours of it.

Are you bored yet? The offer to scroll down is still there!

The real turning point for me didn't come until I was in HS. One boring summer, my brother started trading games with a friend down the street. I was restless, and on my own, popped Final Fantasy III into the SNES. I was totally clueless at first, but yet that opening image of the snow, with Terra's theme, remains so engraved upon my mind that I'll never forget it. My brother, of course, took the controller right out of my hands the moment he came inside, but in two player mode, I could at least get to play the battles. And as the story unfolded, I saw myself in Terra...lost and constantly questioning everything around her. Oh, and I fell madly and completely in love with Locke. We played through the opera scene three times so that I could tape record the music and write down all the words. My fledgling skills as an arranger were born the day I tried to pick the tune of Aria de Mezzo Caraterre out on my piano.

And then tragedy struck.

I took the game to a friend's house, after suffering through the Floating Continent, to work on leveling. When I turned the game on, the file was gone. Vanished without explanation. We had a second save, ten hours back, but my brother was so mad at the game having deleted itself that he threatened to return it to his friend tomorrow. I couldn't bear never knowing what happened to poor Terra, and so, in the dead of night I snuck into his room and stole the game, hiding it in the one place a little brother is least likely to ever look - my underwear drawer. He'd forgotten all about it by the next morning, and I spent every moment he wasn't home playing and leveling to get us back to where we were. When I presented it to him, we joyously went on to kick Kefka's ass together. I'll also never forget my gleeful laughter watching Terra pull that damn scrunchie out of her hair at the end of the game.

My brother and I were an RPG team for a long time - we blew through FFIV, Chrono Trigger, Illusion of Gaia, Secret of Mana...but by the time he got to HS, both of us had gotten more involved in music and drama, and our interest dwindled.

I fully blame one of my best friends for getting me back into gaming at the one time in my life when I might have left for good. Right before Senior year of HS, we bumped into each other outside the school office. He invited me over to see his new PSX and Final Fantasy VII. Never one to waste a dramatic moment, he created an entire show for me - making me watch interviews and part of Wild Arms before putting VII in. We were more than an hour late for my other best friend's birthday party. And I was hooked again. Not only was the PSX and FFVII my entire 18th birthday present, but that was the year I decided I *was* Aeris. I'd post the pictures of that Halloween, but if you're that desperate to see how silly I look as Aeris, you can find them yourself digging through my website.

You can find that on your own too.

Senior year of HS was when I first wrote a fanfic, and then going off to college, I stumbled into GIA not long after. It's an even longer story from there, and I've left so much out just in telling you this much. I certainly don't have the extensive knowledge that some of my fellow staffers do, but I love games more than just about anyone could. Stories, characters, music... And maybe you can't even call me as avid a gamer anymore - but I think it's more current money and time situations than my lack of desire to play. Cause I do want to play. I'll always want to play.

I also notice that despite the ever-increasing amount of RPGS out there, it's still only the highest quality and most intriguing games that inspire fanfics and fanart. There's plenty of RPGs that come and go like the wind, and that's the end. But I'm still getting fanfics for FFVI and FFVII and Xenogears ages and ages after everyone's beaten them to death.

It's like they were saying in the column - movies may be prettier, books may have better plot - but nothing else allows you to get in there, take control, and exist inside this other world.

Games have inspired my writing, my art and my music. I can think of all the people I have met and become close to as a result of gaming. The escapism and fantasy of gaming, as well as the real friends I've made through it, have saved my life on more than one occassion, and I do mean that literally.

But how do you explain this to someone else unless they too have experienced the things I tried to describe above?

You can't. I can't explain that anymore than I can explain why certain songs stir the chords of my heart to laugh or cry - why an amazing song, a well-written novel, a brand new game, a bowl of chocolate ice cream on a hot day -

- can often be more satisfying to me than sex? or winning the lotto? or a vacation to some exotic paradise? or clubbing, drinking, dancing, playing baseball, basketball, football, golf? better than a political debate or a scientific formula or the discovery of some comet out in section x of the universe? And certainly better than spinach or pickles? (really, I can't stand pickles!)

What stirs the human psyche?

What makes each of us unique?

Perhaps that is the real question behind why we do anything.

Asking why someone games is as silly as asking them why they eat eggs for breakfast. If they even eat breakfast.

You'll get as many different reasons as you will people in the world, even if some are similar.

For we all are unique.

Gaming, like anything else in the world, is something that can bring people together and allow them to understand each other. It's just a medium like any other in the world - whether you're bonding over a new painting in an art gallery, or in a locker room after winning the big game. Whether you're curled in a corner reading the latest trashy best seller, or you're whooping it up kicking all your friends asses by being Jigglypuff in Super Smash Brothers.

To each his own.

I'm reminded of something I wrote awhile back, it's on my webpage, and it's called "Upon Happiness" - it's an evening's worth of thought about what makes life fulfilling for people, after having my younger brother tell me that I waste my life on writing stories and playing games.

and the last line is "My happiness is not like yours, little brother, but yours is not like mine."

So why do I game?

Why do I do anything I do in life?

Why do certain things move me when others don't?

Honestly, that's probably a question that none of us will ever have the answer to.

And I'm glad.

The world would be infinitely boring if everyone was exactly the same.

And so the answer to the question of "will I be gaming 30 years from now" is "yes" - but the answer to "why?" is the same and unanswerable reply to why I game now.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

any cute gamers want to take me to the homecoming dance?
Date Title Game Author Genre
07.30.01 American Aibo Final Fantasy VIII Fritz Fraundorf Comic

WARNING! If you have a problem with yaoi, kagu ai, or perverse and sexual references, please do not click on this link. Otherwise, hurry up and click because it's one of the funniest things I've ever read! Fritz rocks! After you're done reading, write to Fritz and tell him how awesome he is, because he's getting his wisdom teeth out today and certainly has nothing better to do than read email!

*waits for Fritz to come and kill her now*

Date Title Game Author Genre
07.30.01 Mystical Roots Chrono Trigger Prince Io Serious
07.30.01 Falling Through A Strangled Darkness Final Fantasy VIII Kupo_22 Serious
07.30.01 Eden Final Fantasy VIII Carme Serious
07.30.01 Hey Mister, wanna buy a t-shirt? Final Fantasy VII The Thryll Killer Serious
07.30.01 Eternity Final Fantasy VIII Anna Owomoyela Serious
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