About Last Night ...

About Last Night ...
The Gamer Within

Sean Sands | 20 Mar 2007 12:00
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My wife, a gamer so casual she's the boxers and T-shirt to my three-piece business suit of gaming, was one of the half dozen or so people on the planet who absolutely loved Black & White. In the six years since the game's release, she still speaks fondly of her once kind and benevolent cow, a pleasant beast I inadvertently shuffled to an untimely oblivion during a hard drive wipe. Whenever Black & White comes up in a discussion, my bovinicide is rarely omitted.

But during the weeks when she and her cow tripped the digital fandango, she was beguiled by the kind of hardcore gamer mania normally reserved for MMOG addicts and people who play Bejeweled. She would find excuses to settle in front of the computer and drag her obedient herbivore endlessly through the game space, as I was left in the unusual position of wondering when I was going to be allowed to play Diablo II.

Eventually she moved on and settled back into the familiar routine of ignoring games. I had briefly entertained the notion that my wife was an unrealized closet gamer, but as weeks became months, then years, I figured her addiction to Black & White was an aberration. Until, that is, I introduced her to Live Arcade and games like Hexic, Uno and the great time-killer Lumines Live!.

As she managed an endless flow of descending squares, I saw in her a glimpse of the feral gamer. Lumines was the full moon to her lycanthropic gamer side, and to see it revealed was both startling and glorious. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to see if I could draw the hardcore gamer from within her. Looking back, this may have been similar to what my wife thought the time she took me to swing dance classes.

Whether it was an experiment or an attempted indoctrination I'm not sure, but I resolved to introduce my wife to three popular games from the past couple years. She agreed with encouraging enthusiasm.

Game 1 - World of Warcraft
She took her seat at my computer, a cup of hot cocoa by her side and an eager expression on her face. After 10 minutes of character creation, her dwarf Hunter entered the world and spawned into a snowy village where her avatar manifested on top of a gnome whose user had apparently abandoned his keyboard. My wife's brain tried to interpret the oddity of two people occupying the same space, and in her confusion wrinkled her nose, glanced at me and asked, "Is that guy trying to give me a blowjob or something." It was an inauspicious start.

While I described the controls another question erupted for which I was not prepared. "Wait," she said. "I have to type moving?"
"Well, yeah."

I directed her toward her first quest, and she lumbered around like a drunk in a skating rink. The quest was standard MMOG fare: Kill some wolves and collect their pelts for purposes both mysterious and probably grotesque. She read the text. "Why am I supposed to kill wolves?"

"Because that guy asked you to," I said. I purposely avoided the more genuine answer, which was that killing wolves would let her accumulate experience and items, so she could become stronger and go on to kill even more, and bigger wolves. The tickle of a salient point poked at the back of my mind, but I shoved it back in a box before it took hold.

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