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Vol. 2, Issue 2
November 16, 1999

Birth of a Gamer:

Are you sure you want me to do this?

by Heather "elki" Haselkorn



y original intention was to stay as far away from loonygames as possible. It just wasn't my scene, I didn't understand any of it, and I just didn't care enough to, say, get pissed off about Lara Croft. But I eventually found myself actually reading loonygames and wanting to play some of the games that were mentioned in its articles. On the whole, I thought it was very well done, even though I still had no idea what was going on. Heck, I even wrote in to the mailbag and won a t-shirt.

So when loony called me and asked if I wanted to take over the "Birth of a Gamer" column, my first response was yes. Followed by, "Are you sure you want me to do this," as though I'd break the server or something. I guess part of my reaction was because after months of being surrounded by his surreal world, I sort of wanted in. I'd also finally have a legitimate reason for spending hours in front of my computer for "research" purposes. And of course, I can't deny the fact that I'm a pretentious English major who just wants her own byline. Regardless of my motives, here I am, writing what I hope will become a regular column about gaming from a non-gamer's perspective.

This column isn't really giving birth to a gamer; it's more like a "rebirth." Up until the last couple of years of high school, I played lots of games, mostly badly, and solely on consoles. When I was four years old my dad bought me an Atari. Actually, I think he really bought it for himself, but he told my mother it was for me and my infant brother. I spent hours playing Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, you name it. I kept buying games for that thing up until I was about twelve. I still quiver at the memory of my mother throwing it away when we moved to a new apartment. How I mourn the loss of my precious Pong!

Anyway, said Atari was eventually replaced by the NES. From then on I realized that the only two games I'd ever be good at were Super Mario Bros. and Tetris, which I now have again, thanks to my Game Boy Color. Anyway, I played these games to exhaustion. I think that this was also about that time (correct me if I'm wrong--I probably am) that the wars began and new consoles seemed to be coming out in droves at exorbitant prices. My parents couldn't justify shelling out the money to buy these for me--they said I should spend my time doing other things.

You can imagine my ire when they bought my brothers a Sega Genesis later that year. Video games weren't an appropriate pastime for their tree-climbing, baseball-playing, mud-stained daughter, yet my brothers could take out all their aggression on a television screen any time. This was the first time that I realized there was a double standard when it came to video games. I don't think my parents meant any harm. They were probably looking out for my best interests, and trying to steer me toward "girl" activities that were more socially acceptable. I almost hit the roof when they bought my brothers a Super NES as well, but I eventually gave up the battle and settled into getting my ass whooped by a six-year-old.

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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Birth of a Gamer is © 1999 Heather Haselkorn. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you cartoonish villian, you.