Snow Day

Snow Day
Twenty-seven Hours Later

JR Sutich | 6 Jun 2006 12:03
Snow Day - RSS 2.0

I purchased StarCraft a week after it was released with no intention of ever playing it. At the time, I was enthralled by Blizzard's highly successful Diablo. Diablo had introduced the world to Battle.net (b.net), and was the first experience with IRC-type chat channels for many, including myself. It was these channels that prompted me to shell out 50 bucks for something I didn't really need or want.

Diablo's online play was hacked to hell and back, meaning no one could legitimately defeat another person in a PvP battle. So, most of the PvP/PK guilds had resorted to IRC channel wars to exert their will over their enemies. Channel "bots," unmanned secondary accounts, were widely used to defend a guild's channel by keeping the channel's operator position in friendly hands, but getting two connections to Battle.net during the days of dial-up was often an exercise in futility. Until StarCraft came out. Using the StarCraft client to login a bot account allowed the player to still use his Diablo client to play. And so, I did just that, day after day, until something happened that would change my gaming habits forever: Battle.net was taken down for extended maintenance.

Left without a reason to be online, and having already killed the Lord of Terror on every difficulty level with every character class repeatedly, I double-clicked StarCraft's little spaceship icon, this time willing to give the game a chance and play through the single-player campaign. Twenty-seven hours later, with my right hand tightening up from mouseclaw, I finally shut down the game. I was addicted. It was the first game that not only completely overtook my will to do anything else; it also made me feel emotions that no other game had. I was truly enraged when Kerrigan was abandoned to her fate of being captured by the zerg. I felt a deep sense of loss, like a friend had been taken from me. The fact that this was caused by an RTS title, a game genre I had previously thought shallow, truly surprised me.

Over the next few weeks, my addiction became an obsession. I rarely logged into b.net using Diablo, and eventually stopped playing altogether. I was too enthralled with terrans, the protoss and the zerg. I gave names to my individual units. I found the recipe for Chinese Lemon Chicken hidden in the game. I played Ladder Matches on b.net constantly, keeping a close eye on my win/loss ratio, striving to get the 5-star chat icon.

It was during this time that I began to notice a trend in my losses. Asian players were defeating me with an alarming frequency. I tried new strategies, set up elaborately designed defenses, and used a number of different unit type groups, all to no avail.

I was no stranger to the highly competitive nature and competence of gamers from the Far East, having cut my hardcore MMOG teeth in Lineage's Korean beta, but some of these guys were taking it to a new level. Getting swarmed with a couple hundred Zerglings, or hearing "Nuclear launch detected" within the first five or 10 minutes of a match was becoming the extent of my experience on b.net, and it was frustrating; so much so that I considered using some of the cheat programs that were becoming more and more prevalent. I resisted, but eventually, the constant struggle to keep up my ever-dwindling win ratio wore me down to the point of dreading to play online. I spent most of my time playing against AI opponents and finally moved on completely.

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