Friday, April 8, 2011

Curriculum Vitae: Gaming

With me just pretty much killing time on EQ2 in that I no longer have a desire to progress, just to hang with my Bro and my guildies, I have decided to take a look at my gaming history, the time I like to spend gaming and the games I have enjoyed indulging in past and present.

When I very first started gaming my interests lay in ‘the game of the moment’. There simply wasn’t enough choice back then to become involved in a huge amount of variation. Of course, I spent a huge amount of time playing ZXSpectrum games, of which Gargoyle Games, Tir Na Nog and BugBytes/Software Projects Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy were my absolute faves. Man, remember those cassettes that the games were stored on? Oh, yeah, I also spent a load of time on Skool Daze, Back 2 Skool and Monty Mole games. Auf Wiedersehen, Monty! was my fave. Damn I loved the ZXSpectrum. I moved on to a mega drive at some point and Sonic the Hedgehog was my choice of game for the most part and also spent a huge amount of time on my first proper gaming RPG, Shining in the Darkness (if I had owned a snes I am sure it would have been Mario instead). Anyhow, you can play all your old ZX Spectrum games here for free online.

As my brother became more and more involved with PC ownership and I was (as most younger brothers are) a parasite to his time and pretty much hung around whilst he played on his antique PC, the next interest I had was perfect for a young adolescent looking for gaming and horniness. Yes, the original Tomb Raider game was a revelation to me. I thought it was so realistic and the way you could move Lara Croft was unprecedented in game play for me. That and you could adjust the camera angle to get a great look at her polygonal arse. I was 12 or 13 FFS, don’t be so judgemental! Hehe.

Of course, the very next ‘hook’ for me in PC gaming was Doom. By this time PCs were a little more easily available and most of my friends had one. Of course I did not and still had to pester my Bro when I wanted to play. But, Doom was the flavour of the moment and it was played to death by all gamers I know. We all loved it. Doom 2 was again a revelation and in particular this time round we all got hooked on a particular aspect of this which was the LAN game play. We had never really experienced LAN before, my Bro had been to a few LAN parties, but I hadn’t and playing Doom 2 on LAN was simply gaming bliss back then. Yeah, we also dabbled in some mods for Doom.

After the Doom franchise got a little boring, thankfully we were then treated to the amazing world of Quake and in my case more importantly when Quake II came on the scene, an amazing mod, Action Quake. This mod of the game became the mainstay of our online game play for quite some time. My Bro started a ‘clan’ for Action Quake called Funk Soul Brothers and we gathered our team from our mates who we already played the game with on LAN. There was my Bro, Daddy Cool, Me as Fat Toni, My buddies were Superfly, Errol Brown, and Huggy Bear initially. We had some late comers to the clan, but essentially those were the founding members. Before we knew it we had been entered in to a European league for the game and twice weekly we bashed it out with other teams in a bid to become AQ top dogs. We didn’t do too badly really. We got to the top of the second division at the end of the first season. Then were promoted to the first for the second season we completed.

The second time round we didn’t do so well in the first division. The quality of opponent was much higher and we stayed right at the bottom of the league I think. By the time we had all got bored with Action Quake I had bought myself a PS2 and the order of the day is now one of my most loved gaming genres, which is racing games. I started with Colin McRae rallying and never really left that game and it’s successors until I stopped using the PS2 console. The original Gran Tourismo is one game that holds a huge amount of nostalgia for me. I recall living in my first house that I owned, with my two lodgers who just happened to be my best buds (Superfly and Errol Brown as mentioned above) and spending huge huge amounts of time progressing through those racing games together, taking it in turns to race. From what I recall standards usually dropped in the late evening as the alcohol used to set in!

Eventually Action Quake fell by the way side and for me, the next few years were spent indulging in various Grand Theft Auto games on the PS2. GTA is one of my very favourite franchises and I genuinely get excited when I know a new edition is to be released. GTA V is one of my most anticipated titles. I have spent hours on those games. From hard core play to simply popping on the game to beat up a few prostitutes and steal their money. What? That’s a perfectly acceptable past-time! Yup I have spent so very long on that series of games, I can still picture every job, mission, location, event. I guess I like being a criminal if it means I only hurt pixels.

I also carried on my love for driving games and those (aside from GTA titles) pretty much became the only things I used my console for. Need For Speed, Burnout, CMcRaeRally, Gran Turismo, Carmageddon and many many more. That genre has always stuck with me since I discovered it. I'm not sure but my love for driving fast cars at ridiculous speeds without the worry of total death is probably to blame.

The next game I became immersed in was Everquest on my brother’s recommendation. It was my first brush with an MMO and to be honest when I started playing, I didn’t really understand what that meant. I’ve been trying to recall my very first experience of the game. I can’t even recall where I purchased it from. I do know that without my Bro having started a week or so before me, I would have been totally lost. It was hard enough to get to grips with all of the mechanics and actions with some help, so those pioneers like my Bro must have had a real arduous time learning everything about the game. One thing I did learn though was it’s easy to run up a massive telephone bill when you play an MMO on the old pay per minute setup. Think about it. We all use the internet mostly on broadband nowadays, and that monthly cost gets us access to the internet whenever we choose. So we have say a £20 charge per month for full access to the web, then pay about £10 for our monthly subs on our MMO of choice. Back then, EQ was costing me my subs of about £10 per month plus my £300 phone bill, £50 of which was probably normal use. So my love for EQ had me paying in total, about £260 a month. I have never thought about it like that before. That’s almost more expensive than Golf for a hobby!

I guess it was worth it though. I adored EQ. It was a frustrating game all told with lots of restrictions to my generation’s attitude of ‘I want it and I want it now’. I had to change my philosophy to ‘I want it now but am willing to camp this mobs spawn spot for three days only to have it stolen from me whilst I’m making a cup of tea’. It taught me a bit of patience and extra frustration all in one. But the thing that really hit home about this game and genre? I could all of a sudden BE the Dwarven Warrior I had played in tabletop D&D for an eternity. I could play his life and become so immersed it almost was like a second life (would be a great name for an MMO). EQ was hard. It was a time sink at a time when internet connection cost a lot, when I was very busy with a developing career path and needed time to study for my vocational exams. But did this stop me from playing? NO, of course not. Because Udrath Stormheart the Dwarf from Kaladim did not have to worry about those other wordly things. It was the great escape (would be a good name for a movie). It was the way I vented from having to deal with all those pressures of real life. EQ brought a huge amount to my gaming and real life, some negative, mostly good I would say.

Everquest 2 followed on from EQ, but not without a three year break between the two from playing any MMO or indeed any computer games at all really. At that point I did focus on my RL and am still feeling the benefits of that hard work today, so it was well worth it. But EQ2 was the perfect swansong for me after a few years of intense career focus. The perfect way to unwind and enjoy some ‘play’ time once again. I have yet to ask myself if I still get so much out of it. I do know I feel I miss my friends online if I don’t log in for a few days so at least I know I am getting some decent interaction with my friends and indeed my brother because of it. As for the content? Well, suffice to say I am enjoying spending time with my brother back in tier 7 much more than I am exploring Velious.

So, there it is. My gaming life pretty much in full. Right. I’m off to play Elite on the Spectrum emulator.

Be well.


  1. Brilliant post! Some really great memories there, especially the Action Quake clan - those Sunday nights spent fighting in the Euro league were brilliant - I got so nervous before matches!

    Got to love a bit of nostalgia!

  2. That's right! We didn't play in the league a couple of times a week. It was twice on a Sunday evening. Once on their home map, once on ours. Great great times. I remember our clan. You and Superfly were the best with Errol Brown close behind. Huggy Bear was pretty consistant, but I was like a yo-yo.

    Remember the sessions where I couldn't do anything right then at some point when the whole of my team were dead, I had a flash and moment of brilliance and would totally lord it over the other team on my own? Didn't happen to often though huh, lol. Still, it didn't matter that you guys were all better at it than me, it was the being a part of our clan that was amazing.

    Happy times :)

  3. Now THAT was a GREAT post!