I Coulda Been a Con­tender

Hyper - - CONTENTS - U by Ter­rence Jar­rad

nlike many gamers my age, my love of FPS didn’t ar­rive with Wolfen­stein. Sure, it was cool, but it was also a game I couldn’t play for very long with­out get­ting lost or bored. Sim­i­larly I let Doom pass me by; another neat game, but I found I still had lit­tle pa­tience for key-hunt­ing. Duke Nukem 3D’s puerile hu­mour and par­tial nu­dity added a layer of the for­bid­den over the whole ap­proach, and I played it a lot for that rea­son rather than any love of the genre.

Quake was the game changer for me, but not for its full 3D, or its dark sa­tanic tone and Reznor­built sound­track; it was the first time I ex­pe­ri­enced com­pet­i­tive on­line gam­ing. Not that I was par­tic­u­larly com­pet­i­tive to be­gin with, be­cause I played key­boar­d­only and it took weeks of get­ting my butt kicked, be­fore I con­ceded that a mouse might be nec­es­sary, and things got se­ri­ous.

I heard about a thing called Team Fortress – a “mod” for Quake - and that be­came my life. I played a lot. The kind of “a lot” where I knew player move­ment so well that even with a ping of 250+ on di­alup I could snipe en­e­mies through the opaque sur­face (no fancy OpenGL ef­fects on my crappy lap­top) of the wa­ter sep­a­rat­ing 2Forts and Rock. I ob­sessed over my stats on The Cham­pion’s League for Quake (the­clq.com – now de­funct) which mon­i­tored tens of thou­sands of servers and hun­dreds of thou­sands of play­ers world­wide amongst which I ranked some­where in the top 3-400. I was thor­oughly ad­dicted to be­ing bet­ter at shoot­ing peo­ple than they were at shoot­ing me. But it was more than that too, be­cause it could be done co­op­er­a­tively, as a team, each mem­ber play­ing a vi­tal role to se­cure vic­tory. At the time it seemed gam­ing would never get bet­ter than this.

Then a friend in­tro­duced me to Counter-Strike (1.3), and I for­got all about Team Fortress. Since this dis­cov­ery oc­curred im­me­di­ately prior to my mov­ing out of home to at­tend univer­sity, you can prob­a­bly guess what my av­er­age day con­sisted of: a lec­ture or two, and Counter-Strike. Fur­ther­ing my habit, a LAN café opened up near the uni, and since a lot of in­ter­net was still di­alup in those days, I spent a lot of time there play­ing over high speed in­ter­net or on the lo­cal net­work. I got pretty good. Café pa­trons knew me, and whis­pers rip­pled around the room when I walked in. I guess it was cool in a “king of geeks” kind of way, and it fed my de­sire to be the best FPS player I could. I once started a ses­sion at 11am on Fri­day, and walked out of the café at 11am Sun­day morn­ing with maybe a cou­ple of hours sleep in be­tween. My bike, left at the train sta­tion for two days, had the seat stolen.

Life’s dif­fer­ent now. I don’t have much free time and I tend to pre­fer my FPS with a start and end, rather than the con­tin­ual chase of unattain­able per­fec­tion in never end­ing rounds. I some­times won­der if there’s a ver­sion of me in the mul­ti­verse who fol­lowed through and be­came a pro-gamer. Hmmm… maybe I’ll just play a cou­ple more rounds in Over­watch…

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.