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Vol. 2, Issue 2
November 19, 1999

Down the Pipe

Birth of a Gamer

by Russell "RadPipe" Lauzon


  want to call today’s column, “Birth of a Gamer”, because it fits in more way than one, but I think Heather Haselkorn would lop my head off. She owns the rights to that title here at loonygames and that’s fine. You go, girl.

Here’s why I wanted to use the aforementioned name. My son Zachary is a gamer. He’s been a gamer for over a year now. He plays games such as Total Annihilation, StarCraft, Quake, Quake II, the Unreal Tournament demo, and a host of others that I’ve dragged out of my archives for his enjoyment. Now, he’s not the greatest gamer in the world, and he has more trouble with RTS games in general because of the high level of concentration when it comes to resource management, but I think he does dang fine for his age. Oh and by the way, he’s a little over 3.

I remember the day when he sat down at the computer and with utter bewilderment, made the astounding leap of intelligence and noticed that when you move the mouse a little to the right, something on the screen changed. Same thing when moved to the left. Then up. Then down. I had been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Quake II was loaded and he was sitting at the start of Base1. (Instinctively I knew that the connection would occur faster if he were looking at an environment that felt familiar). Next was the first mouse key, which would fire that badass blaster in his virtual hands. That was an easy one. When he got used to looking around the place he was in, and shooting the blaster until all the walls, floor, and ceiling were quite dead, I showed him the Up arrow key. He never looked back. He was 2.

Thus, my story about Zachary is a true Birth of a Gamer story, in more way than one.

I quickly found that Zachary wasn’t fond of running around levels with monsters (they scared him), but I got lucky when I showed him Capture The Flag. Facing players just like himself didn’t seem to bother him at all, plus the maps were of simpler design. And he loved being on a team. It took him a while to figure out what it meant to capture the flag, and when he did, he almost ignored the objective. I’m not sure why. To save some grief over connecting to the Internet every time he wanted to play (plus dealing with the confusion of dealing with real people coming and going), I downloaded the Eraser bot with the funky front-end loader. I created a batch file that would load him up with q2ctf and 6 bots per team. Zachary knew which desktop icon was “Zach’s CTF”, and after that I didn’t even have to turn the computer on for him. He could spend hours playing the game and I wouldn’t once have to check on him.

Now I’m sure every parent is proud of their kids, and Zach’s playing Q2CTF may not seem all that special, so let me get to the real point of this column. I consider myself old school because I’ve been around the community for a while. Anyone who says he played First Person Shooters more than 8 years ago is yanking your nose. So what am I talking about? The next generation of gamers, of course. These are our kids that rise up learning everything we teach them about games, and showing us what we’re doing wrong. Because they’re confident? Egotistical? Heck no.

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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Down the Pipe is © 1999 Russell Lauzon. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. So don't do it. Please? Pretty please? Okay, fine...be that way. But don't ask me for your allowance, young man.