My First Online Gaming Experience
August 9th, 2007

I’ve never been big on online gaming, or even traditional multiplayer gaming for that matter. Everyone knows that sitting in a dark, quiet room completely alone is the only way to truly enjoy a videogame.

But as my elders used to say, anything is worth trying at least once. My elders were stupid.

In 1997, my parents bought a new PC complete with a 56k modem and AOL 3.0, putting us right on the cutting edge of technology, though all this meant to me was, “sweet, another videogame system!” My father felt otherwise and justified the purchase with a lecture about how the wonderful device would increase our ability to gather information and communicate with others. He then promptly became addicted to Solitare and Freecell for the next eight months.

The simple wonders of electronic card games just didn’t cut it for me, however, I needed a real game, damn it! So one day, with about $55 in my pocket and a burning need for entertainment without physical activity, I browsed for my first PC game.

Being ignorant of the existence of online game reviews, but too stubborn to piss away money on a gaming magazine, I was at the mercy of the box art and descriptions. I had to be careful, one little misjudgment and it could be Primal Rage all over again (the box had a bloodthirsty gorilla on it; there was no way it could suck!).

I skimmed the shelves judging anything that caught my attention. Nascar…no, Tomb Raider…boring, Sim Copter…fuck that bullshit.

Then I saw it. A box with a man from the bronze age clenching his sword in defiance, ready for battle. The descriptions promised experiences of accumulating wealth and conquering enemy civilizations. It was Age of Empires, I had found my game.

From the moment I began playing, I instantly became hooked and my addiction grew rapidly from there. As the weeks passed, I found myself building increasingly intricate cities, commanding powerful armies and generally destroying all computer-controlled opposition.

With respect to skill in the game, my ego had become huge. I knew that the only thing left to do was go online and challenge other human players. A few day later, I logged onto an online network, browsing the hundreds of different opponents available, feeling relieved that I was by no means the only person wasting a beautiful, autumn Saturday afternoon of my youth.

Before I knew it, I had officially begun my first online game. I frantically set out to build my greatest city yet and an all-powerful army. This was going to be glorious.

Twenty-seven minutes later, my buildings were all destroyed and every one of my characters lay slaughtered.

The words were not frequently used at the time, but I was a total noob and I had been owned. I was too upset to even appreciate the cool blood and skeleton graphics all over the screen.

Being the pre-teen of good character that I was, I graciously accepted my humiliation by concluding that anyone skilled at online gaming was a total fucking loser.

In all seriousness, the experience showed me that online gaming just wasn’t for me. Therefore, I took myself offline and permanently returned to making artificial intelligence my bitch.

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- 8.09.2007

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