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2, Issue 2
November 19, 1999
Birth of a Gamer
want to call todays 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 thats fine. You go, girl.
why I wanted to use the aforementioned name. My son Zachary is
a gamer. Hes 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 Ive dragged out of my archives for his enjoyment.
Now, hes 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, hes a
little over 3.
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.
my story about Zachary is a true Birth of a Gamer story, in more
way than one.
found that Zachary wasnt 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 didnt
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. Im 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 Zachs
CTF, and after that I didnt even have to turn the
computer on for him. He could spend hours playing the game and
I wouldnt once have to check on him.
sure every parent is proud of their kids, and Zachs 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 Ive
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 were doing wrong.
Because theyre confident? Egotistical? Heck no.
that age dont know how to be egotistical. Zach plays for
love of the game. I see traits in him that I see in great gamers.
He tries things just for the heck of it. He sees straight through
problems to simple solutions. I remember once in Q2CTF, he had
grabbed the flag and was heading back to base. I stood behind
him saying, Run! Back to your base! Run! He stopped
right in the middle of the map, despite my urging, and started
flipping through his weapons. What are you doing?
I cried. He switched to grenade launcher, resumed running, and
started laying a path of grenades to catch the enemies in his
wake. Shut me up pretty good.
come across Zach playing a game, completely oblivious to what
is going on in the game around him. Hes played for hours
upon hours with the grappling hook, seeing where this odd device
will take him. Ive found him sitting on wall lights, on
other players, on small outcroppings that cant be seen unless
youre standing on them. I once watched him play for over
an hour using nothing but the railgun. He was missing almost every
shot but it didnt bother him at all. He just kept shooting.
Ive only see dedication like that in hardcore gamers. Me,
Ill use the railgun for all of 5 minutes before giving up
in frustration and returning to a weapon I can actually use.
up the Unreal Tournament demo and was very pleased it had
a system for loading bots much like the Eraser. Zach loves it.
And it kills me the stuff he comes up with. He can show me something
I didnt know almost every day. For example, when you use
the Shock Rifle and secondary fire, it shoots an exploding ball
of, um, something that looks like electricity or plasma. Bud did
you know, if you quickly switch to primary fire (which shoots
kind of like a railgun) and shoot, you can use it to detonate
the ball before it hits? I came across Zach using this technique
just other day. There was an enemy shooting out of his line of
sight, so, he shot the ball, then exploded it after it passed
a corner. It makes me want to shout, Kid, youre only
3 years old! Who do you think you are? Stop it already!
no fanfare. No bravado. He doesnt jump and shout, Look
what I can do Daddy! He doesnt gather his friends
around so he can gloat on some technique he has learned. He does
it because it works. He does it for love of the game. And he moves
does it end? I came home the other day and found Zach checking
my e-mail. He cant read, and cant make heads or tails
of whats coming in, but that doesnt matter. He dials
the ISP, loads e-mail, clicks Send and Receive, and
watches it come in. I have to be careful and stop him before he
starts trying things, though.
what youre thinking. Can he whup me? No. The reflexes of
young children are nowhere near as refined as adults or teenagers
at such an early stage. My 8 year old can show some resistance,
but hes got a ways to go too. I own them every time.
is Zach? As I said before, Im a parent and so Im proud
as all heck of my little boy, as Im sure all parents are.
So Ill give the masses the benefit of the doubt, and its
why I talk about the next generation of gamers. If our kids are
all like Zach, whats in store for us? Will we one day fall
prey to our little tykes, as they jump online and own
us in droves? Will we one day start all our stories with, in
my day... while we watch the next generation inherit the
online community? I dunno. I bet this is how it starts.
Russell "RadPipe" Lauzon is currently exhausting all
his free time researching Beer Goggles.
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