This is how I imagine it, if I close my eyes.
In the basement of an average neighborhood church, members of a seemingly normal-looking group of Boomer-aged people are sequestered away…for some secret meeting. Glancing at this gathering of people, one might not immediately discern their relationship to one another. There’s a lawyer, a plumber, a retired nurse, a teacher, a domestic engineer, an IT technician, a retired career Marine Sergeant, and a grandpa . They all have one thing in common. The retired nurse pushes herself up into a standing position -- causing her folding chair to make a horrible metallic scraping noise on the linoleum floor. She takes a deep breath, holds her head high, and announces, “Hi, I’m Torrey and I’m a gamer chick.” The group responds in monotone, 8-bit unison, “Greetings and salutations, Torrey!”
Yes, my friends, I’m here to tell you that the world of video games is NOT limited to those under the age of 20.
I am a gamer chick from, well…from the very dawn of the video game. I was there when the primeval video game Pong™ (insert registered trademark symbols behind everything I list from here on out) first emerged from its primordial ooze. Yeah, we had one. In fact, we were the ONLY family on the block that had one. This made me a very popular girl. I can’t tell you how many HOURS we spent gleefully staring at those two little vertical lines and moving, bleeping blip. That is how it all started.
From there sprang iconic games like Pac Man, Space Invaders, Joust, Frogger, and Qbert. I was in HEAVEN. Then, with the advent of personal game systems, these arcade games started to finger their way into the home market. And, I was right there. The first game system I invested in was the Intellivision by Mattel.
It. Was. AWESOME.
Just look at these quality graphics! (she says sarcastically)
Those are buildings and lakes on the left, and islands on the right, you have to use your imagination.
Now, instead of hanging out at the arcade, my friends and I could huddle around a giganto 17-inch TV and play wondrous games like Utopia, Shark Shark, Snafu, Bomb Squad (the code, THE CODE!!! Figure out the code!), and my all-time favorite Microsurgeon…in the comfort of our own homes! We would lose all track of time. Looking back, this would have been today’s parents’ dream…teenagers, safe at home, spending time with one another, laughing and having a blast without alcohol, drugs, violence or sex. We were nerds. We didn’t care.
Over the years, most of my friends stopped playing video games. Most of them traded in their Intellivisions, Ataris, and Commodores for “grown up” things…like cars, boats, getting married, having kids, buying houses.
While my friends were graduating from college, I was graduating from Intellivision…to Nintendo. And, to this very day, Nintendo is still my game system of choice. Today, I could open my own personal Nintendo museum. I have ‘em all…from that original grey box Nintendo to the Wii (and every other iteration of Nintendo in between).
I still have all their games too, and they all still work. And yes, I did graduate from college (with high honors I might add), and I got a car and got married, but that is beside the point.
I was happy in Nintendoland for many, MANY years. Link, Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and Toad…they are my brothers. Then, a wonderful thing happened. The video game world evolved, yet again. Suddenly, with the exponential growth of the internet, a new generation of video games was created
(cue an angelic chorus laced with synthesized music).
MMORPG…Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.
I cut my MMORPG teeth on a cute little game called Maplestory. It’s innocuous enough—cutesy little 2-D virtual world where chubby little player-controlled characters go on a mindless (and endless) pursuit of their ever-elusive “next level”. It got really boring. I got tired of the grind. I craved better quests. I longed for awesome graphics. I hungered for more dimensions—3, to be exact.
Enter…WoW (cue legendary, EPIC music).
Let me see if I can illustrate the difference in an analogy. I like analogies. WoW is to Pong, as Michelangelo’s Pieta is to a 3-year-old’s drawing of a 5-legged dog. ‘Nuff said.
I love WoW. Sometimes I need a break from it for a few months, but, I always manage to find my way back. WoW has gotten me through some tough times in my life. Without going into great detail, it is a great distracter that allows me to place my focus away from pain. It’s a pretty powerful painkiller. WoW is also (as strange as it sounds) where I met my husband. We really did meet there about 5 years ago. Heck, I even got my 76-year-old dad to play (and we’re even in the same guild). I know there are many other MMORPGs out there. But, for me, my battle cry will always be, “For the Alliance!!” If nothing else, for less than $15/month, I have one incredibly affordable form of entertainment.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were cleaning out our garage. He opened a big pink plastic storage tub. Inside was my Intellivision system with all its games-- all complete, all in their original boxes. We brought it in and spent awhile on the internet trying to figure out how to hook it up to our “modern” TV. After a quick trip to Radio Shack, we had it all hooked up. I pressed the “ON” button, and that familiar, tinny 8-bit music filled our entertainment room. It immediately whisked me back to my youth… to where this journey all began, decades ago. I have come full circle and have returned to my “video” roots. Yep. I’m a gamer chick to my very core, and I will be to my dying day…only then will it be...