Friday, January 05, 2007

On Gaming & Computers

Thanks to Proxima's comment I've come up with a new/old topic to write about. She commented about not finding many other female gamers. I don't know that I would really call myself that, but there are a few times I've been completely hooked by a game. It probably started when our family got an Intellivision. I would spend hours playing Astrosmash, Auto Racing, Dungeons and Dragons, Frogger, Pitfall and even Football. Since I lived in the middle of nowhere (i.e. the country) and had nothing else to do, it helped pass by many hours. On my 11th or 12th birthday I wanted a little mini-pacman game and I got it. I loved that thing. I played it for hours as well. Eventually I developed a bit of a life when I got into high school and didn't play much in the way of games. I was in band and speech and between the two, I didn't have time for much else.

When my family got a Commodore 64 computer we found ourselves playing text-based adventure games like Deadline - which was very addicting and we never did solve it. I bought that CD a few years ago and tried playing it again - still with no results. When I first moved out on my own in college (after a year in the dorm), I got to take the Commodore computer with me. (My parents must have upgraded) I became obsessed with a game called Impossible Mission. It's one of the few games I ever actually mastered on my own. I also played a few other games like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, but those 5 1/4 inch floppy disks didn't hold a lot of data so you ended up either putting in disk after disk or eventually going through all the possible games quickly. Eventually I got busy in college (and had a baby too) and no longer used the outdated Commodore. I would use the Mac lab at the University to write my papers and such and didn't have time for games.

When I finally graduated (after 7 years) and got my first teaching job, I decided that I needed my own "real" computer. I was pretty set on getting a Mac because I had grown accustomed to the "windows" type interface. My brother, however, talked me into getting a PC proclaiming how amazing the new windows system was. (It was Windows 3.1 at the time) I got a loan for about $2000 to buy a computer and a desk and my brother put a machine together for me. Here's a little segue into a story about Josh and the computer.

Josh was about 4 years old when I got the computer. I bought him some games that he could play to learn the alphabet and some phonics games. Of course by the time he was four he could already spell almost any dinosaur you could think of and was reading Dr. Suess's The Foot Book on his own. On my computer back in the day when you booted it came up with a startup menu and you could choose whether you wanted to go into windows or Dos or some other program. It was basically a "Welcome" screen before you went into windows. My child somehow got into the settings for the welcome screen and made some changes. When I booted up my computer it said: "Welcome to Jurassic Prak" (spelling as is) "Good evening CD Man" I discovered that he also added a password to it and I couldn't undo what he had done. I tried every dinosaur name I could think of and couldn't get it changed. My brother had to finally come over and go through some back door thing and reset it for me. I then had to add my own password so he couldn't make any more changes.

Back to computing and gaming--

So in 1994-1995-ish I had a pretty new computer for the time. (Keep in mind it was a 386 processor and probably a 400 MB hard drive.) I couldn't believe that I could play my music CD's in it (although I only had one or two at the time) I could do all sorts of school work on it and print things out on my new HP600 ink jet printer. I was in heaven! And then I got another game - Myst. It was amazing. I understand Proxima's comment about starting to play in the morning and then all of a sudden realizing that everything's dark. I would stay up until 3 in the morning and play it during the summer. (no school of course) At one point in fact I turned my love seat around to face my computer so I could be more comfortable playing since I spent so many hours on it. I eventually finished the game (though I admit to needed some of the hints to complete it) but I enjoyed it. In fact several years ago I bought the sequal to it, Riven, but I still haven't played it. Maybe one of these days I will. I still have it in my shelf. My dad made me a copy of Sim City 2000 at one point and I got hooked on that for a while.

I got online for the first time in either late 1995 or early 1996. I ended up using AOL because of it's easy interface, but had to really watch myself because that's when everybody still charged by the minute. When I met Richard (my ex-husband) in April of 1996, he helped me switch to a local provider that had unlimited time and a monthly cost of less that $20 for teachers. It was still dial-up and horribly slow, but I could surf for hours. While on AOL I got really hooked on chatting and even ended up having a guy come from California to visit me. Looking back I realize that might have been pretty stupid. Eventually I got married to Richard and in 2000 I finally had the means to upgrade computers again. I orded a new computer through Dell and spent 4 years paying it off. But I still have it... it is my ancient desktop that is sitting in my old office now craft room. It still works but had been upgraded from time to time and had Windows ME on it which sucked. I think I eventually got XP on there.

After I got that computer and I started my rollercoaster phase, I got the Rollercoaster Tycoon game when it first came out. It was so addicting. I remember playing it all summer (again have to do it during my breaks). I mastered all the levels of the basic game. I then got RCT2 and played it, but never did complete all the levels I don't think. I ended up using my Jostens laptop as my main computer for a while and then had to go back to my old one after I quit. That prompted me to buy my current laptop when I got my tax refund last year. I've played a few other games over the years like Scrabble, Boggle, Card Games, Solitaire and such, but none have been as addicting as some of those early ones.

So would you call me a gamer? I don't know. I play every once in a while, but not regularly. When I go back to school I'll have to give it up as I'll be too busy. But now that I've written this, I'm very tempted to go back and play some of those old games again!


Cheryl said...

Great post. I used to play pac-man way back when, but have never been a gamer. I'm just not good at them. For a while I was addicted to solitare on the computer, but that's about it. I play card games with my daughter, but more so we can do something together than for the actual game. First time I've ever commented on your site, but I feel like I know you thru, Andrew, Abbagirl, etc...

Anonymous said...

Your still a gamer in my book, just not the stinky, hard-core, consume my pathetic excuse for a life kind.

I did an old post called "Proxima's Picks" that was my own tongue-in-cheek awards event, I hope you like it!

Terri said...

Great post! I love games: pc and game systems and I so remember Myst! I loved that game. In fact I'm intrigued that they seem to have a new version of it online. I'm going to have to check it out.

My kids laugh at me because I usually have to be the first one to try their newest xbox 360, PS2 and Gamecube games! Guitar Hero is the most addictive.

I got your blog link from Andrew and I love reading both of you!