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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Newbies I Knew

Once upon a time I, Stephen Michael Tow, was a big fucking nerd.

They used to call me z3k. I was zek, zekky, zekalah, z3kzor, and lots of other things. One time I was shadow, and another I was black-n-white. Far into the dim reaches of teenaged memory I was also Rauko.

It all started for me with this game:



I was fourteen years old and played for hours at a time. My only friend at the time a 38 year old Austin policeman who's name I can't remember anymore. We played BGH (big game hunters) style matches. We also did footies, sometimes.

It was fun, and the friends from that game were my first in the whole online gaming experience that was to take over my life for a few years. Nowadays I don't know what they're up to.

After that game I went to:



No friends here. I was simply lost in a torrent of pubs (public games against random opponents). Playing game after game - some custom, some ladder, but all by myself. It was a lonely way to get my kicks, but at the time I was desperate.

My big time came with:



It was in this game that I got my nickname. Zek. It's a russian term for a soviet inmate who is a kind of prison-thief. At the time, I didn't know that's what it meant. I didn't find out until I'd had the nick for more than a year. Go figure.

All the friends I made here...good people everyone of them. Even the fucking bsing bastards started out as good people.

Daunt, Scourge, Curu, Shai, Kyndbuds, Insane, Trout, Talamotros, Ava, Mario, Valin, Tidal, Cele, Aeolis, and many others. There were so many others, and we became a tight-knit community, dedicated to playing one custom-made game above all: Ringwars.

There was a time when I could go into a pub and watch as the newbies and pubbers jockeyed for position to avoid being on the stacked side - which was whatever side I was on. We were all heavy-hitters at the game, not just me. And at the time, I felt a weird sort of pride to be feared in this area of competitive fantasy gaming.

The whole story of my time in RW is too long to go into in one blog, but as time wore on we broke away. People left for different games, school, girlfriends, parental pressure, growing up. Sooner or later real life happened to you and one day you'd be playing till three A.M. in a Euro server pub game, and the next you didn't show up for three months and everyone thought you died.

The deathknell of our time together came with the release of:



Everyone split up, playing different servers for whatever state/province they lived in. Some of us managed to stay together, but in the end it all fell away in the haze of MMORPG grinding.

Somedays I simply did not go to sleep. I skipped classes, dates, showers, food, even masturbation. My life got taken over in the need to progress further and further into the game. People started calling it warcrack after a while. The name says it all.

It got to the point where I had to choose between being a gamer, or being a person. Doesn't sound like a difficult choice, right? It was. I had been playing games all or nothing for nearly six years at that point. I didn't want to stop, and nobody really seemed to understand how much I needed to play.

But I gave it up. I wanted to write, play music, meet girls, sleep a little (and a lot). I just stopped, cold turkey, and since then I haven't scratched that itch running along the underside of my mind. It's always there though.

The whole point of this blog is to remember what it was like to be a pale, near-emaciated boy without a social life, hygiene, eating hot-pockets and coca-cola whenever I remembered to eat.

How far I've come since then. But I'm still the same person, always was a gamer inside, and I'll always have itchy fingers for it. The only thing that's changed is what I put ahead of that. Important things. Important people, too.

Still, I wish I could go back and relive it, just one more time. One more private with all the ringwars crowd, and me playing my favorite nation. I guess the past ain't really dead for me, but it's still past.

So it goes.

1 footnotes:

Alexandra said...

Respect the game..lol..I remember being addicted to that.I don't know where six weeks of my life went. It's just a hole. Lol thanks for bring back the memory or rather lack of.