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Birth of a Gamer:
Half-Life - No more butterflies.
By Heather "elki" Haselkorn
Vol. 2, Issue 6
December 14, 1999 

I finally found my suit. "So now what do I do?" I thought. Actually, no, I said it out loud. I've discovered I have this bad habit of talking to the computer screen, as though it'll answer me. I also curse, shout, and congratulate it accordingly. If I was home this wouldn't have been such a bad thing, but I wasn't. Those of you who have followed my adventures thus far already know that I own a PowerBook with a track pad, not a mouse, so I actually need to use someone else's computer to play most games. That someone is usually either my brother, or our awe-inspiring editor himself. In this case, I was at loony's Palace o' P.C. Pleasure. So of course, every time I said something to the computer, he thought I was talking to him and he just had to answer me. Every time I asked, rhetorically, "What next," he actually came over to tell me what I had to do. When I whined during the tutorial, "How come I can't jump straight," he came over and taught me how to jump. Which was nice of him, but I would rather have figured it out for myself. Eventually he realized that and said he shouldn't even be there. "So leave," I answered.

There. Now I was alone. Me and the game. Me and the freaky mutant monsters. Oh, not yet, actually. I still had to botch the big experiment. But first I had to get there. I found an elevator. There was a ladder next to it. Common sense would dictate that I go into the elevator and press the button. I have none, so I tried to climb down the ladder. And let go too early. Ouch! Ten minutes into the game and I was already dead. So I started over. I finally made it to the test lab, but I couldn't quite figure out what I had to do, and the technician, rather than providing helpful assistance over the P.A. system, just kept berating me and asking why I was taking so long. Sigh...I'll just have to figure it out myself. Big explosion, flashing lights, everything's read and green, lots of wounded and dead. Yay! I did it! I started bobbing up and down in my chair in glee.

Now it was me and the freaky mutant monsters. I started talking to people to try to find out what to do, and occasionally they would open doors so that I could pass from room to room. One of the scientists told me I had to get back to the surface. Now how the heck was I supposed to do that? I started wandering around aimlessly, going up and down elevators (probably just the same elevator over and over), grabbing guns when I could find them and shooting things. I have to admit, killing monsters is fun, and it seems to let out a lot of pent-up aggression. But I was still getting nowhere. I had learned how to smash my way through wreckage, duck and jump through small spaces, press buttons to open whatever doors still worked, talk to people in order to get them to operate the retinal scans, and wait for laser beams to open some of the doors that I couldn't open by other means. That still didn't help, and I began to feel like the proverbial rat in a maze. So I started using that old trick of following one wall of a maze to eventually find the way out. But then I was confronted with the ultimate dead-end: The door that wouldn't open. The button closest to it didn't work. I couldn't hack it open with my crowbar. I couldn't crouch and walk through the space at the bottom. I couldn't duck-jump through the space at the top. Aack! What do I do? I wandered around some more until I got nauseous again, and then I gave up.

I'm a quitter. For the moment, anyway. So many people have told me so many good things about Half-Life that I can't simply let it go. Just from the opening I can see that there really is the potential for a good plot to the game, and we all should know I'm a sucker for a good plot. I just have to figure out how to advance it. So I'll get back to it soon, probably over winter break, when I'll have time to spend an entire weekend playing a game. Maybe I'll even write about it again, just to keep you posted on where I am. Just cuz I know you care.

-Heather "elki" Haselkorn actually enjoys this.

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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.