My third grade teacher, when reading through some of my “journal” we were told to write in every day, introduced me to what was to be my fate – “jack of all trades, master at none”. In my 8 year old wisdom, I was a little offended that she said I wasn’t a master because dangit, I was going to be the best gymnast/waitress/math teacher/actress/dancer/artist – whatever my obsession of the week was. I was so into it, it was my dream, and I lived it and loved it and would be the best EVAR… until the next week when my “oooh shiney” mentality took me elsewhere. Some people just knew what they wanted to do when they grew up since birth practically (like Zliten), but I wanted to do EVERYTHING. I wanted it all, and I wanted to be the best at it.

While, sure, I’ve never won any olympic gold medals or waitress of the year awards, I have surely done a heck of a variety of things in my life. I have explored many, many facets of my soul. I’ve been athlete-Quix (hi there again, good to see ya), artsy-fartsy-Quix (trying to conjure you up again but my muse is elusive, that bitch!), logical-Quix (hi 2 u job), creative-storyteller-Quix (hi 2 u, secondary part of job), competitive-Quix (she never goes away), beatnik-poet-Quix… and many, many other Quix variants out there.

One of those interests that is really at my core is games. There is so much I love about the aspect of games of all types. First of all – you PLAY a game. Game = fun. Sure, I’ve had unfun times working on and even playing games, but you can’t really ever take the unfun too seriously because – you are PLAYING. And about the unfun part, that’s probably another soapbox for another day. Then, for better or for worse, competitive-Quix comes out to play, which is why Zliten and I only play co-op games. It’s just better because neither of us are good losers and I’m pretty sure there has been an utterance or two of “say my name, BITCH!!” after a rousing game of cards. Or, right as I’m about to win my first drunken chess game, the pieces magically get displaced by Zliten and we can’t continue the game. Or – the ridiculous stompings at Starcraft I was dealt OVER AND OVER. But as they say, the couple that plays together, stays together, so we play TOGETHER now. In games that do not involve me vs him.

This particular phase of gaming obsession started about six months before college graduation when I played the hell out of the Sims until the sun came up, Sega Swirl, and found and got ridiculously addicted to acrophobia and gamesville (which is not what it used to be – they used to offer huge prizes for all their games and $5000 was a huge draw for a broke college student when the other option was homework). After somehow keeping it together to a tune of a 4.0 senior year (I pretty much just took the year off sleep to make time for school, partying, and gaming) and moving out to San Diego, I got really really really really into EverQuest. We worked and played, and that was life. Hanging out with friends meant hanging out in guild chat (mostly with people we knew from work, but we met some other people along the way). We didn’t even have a real, functioning dining room table or anywhere to eat, we just ate at our desks. Our computers were easily the most valuable things in the apartment.

The game we were into changed from month to month but we were always pretty “hardcore”. We never were close to catassing or poopsocking (click on these at risk of being disgusting with humanity), but many a delivery pizza were accepted by one of us as quickly as possible as the other was manning all the characters so we didn’t die. We got sick of EQ after a while and picked up Dark Ages of Camelot. Then as SOE stuff came out we’d play those games (PlanetSide, Star Wars Galaxies, EverQuest II) hardcore for a while and then jump to something else. A typical Saturday was waking at the crack of noon, getting a delivery order of cheese stix with ranch, a chicken ceasar salad, a cheese pizza, and hoagies and fries for each of us, and cracking open a bottle of some adult beverage and playing until we couldn’t see straight or stay awake. No wonder my ass ended up the size of Texas, right?

But even staring at that last paragraph in disgust – I have fond memories of those days. Try it once. Give yourself permission to be a complete and utter waste of space to the rest of the world. Eat ridiculous amounts of fattening food that is brought to your door. Get so into something the lines of reality and virtual reality are blurred and you dream about it when you close your eyes. Don’t leave your chair except to perform biological functions (I do not condone or support poopsocking) and refill your drink. Make sure that drink is good and stiff, too!

Now, I don’t wish to get there again every day like I used to. I like not having to hide behind a sexy elvish avatar because I felt so horrible about the way I was taking care of my body. My friends are not pixelated, I can actually reach out and punch them when they make fun of me when we are hanging out! A big day out does not just include a trip to the grocery store or target. But there is a real commitment to playing games that you don’t realize until you’re trying to get back into playing something after a hiatus. As much as those days hold a dear spot in my (now much less prone to a coronary) heart, I just can’t spend a full day doing it anymore. We tried having a shut in gaming session one weekend, and put in a respectable 9 hours Saturday, and got to 4 hours Sunday and gave in and did something else. And that’s just playing Final Fantasy XII taking turns.

I’m not sure I’ll ever recapture the days where my ass was attached to my computer chair, swigging down knob creek, singing slurred 80’s songs into teamspeak, wolfing down Knockout Pizza (which apparently has gone WAY downhill since we left), and killing the same thing over and over for hours just to watch a little progress bar move to the right. But I’m a little disappointed in myself that things have gotten this far to the other end of the spectrum.

How un-nerdy am I now? Find out in Part 2, coming soon to a blog near you.