Forty-nine days to addiction

The first person shooter (or fps) is the bane of my existence. When Wolfenstein 3D was the coolest new game out there, I was the un-coolest kid I knew because I loathed it. The next big thing was Doom, and the only way I would play it was with ‘God mode’ on and full weapons and ammo. I avoided fps games for years before I tried Quake 3 Arena. I’m sure I would have enjoyed my experience with Q3 much more if I hadn’t freaked out, thrown the mouse across the desk to the floor where it came to rest on my cat’s sleeping body, and viciously hit alt-F4 until the computer was completely shut down. (I admit, I really should have been nicer to the computer – it wasn’t at fault, after all – and the cat didn’t even wake up.) I just couldn’t deal with the pressure. The game made me dizzy and my hand-eye co-ordination was less than impressive when I played in the first person perspective. Maybe, just maybe, I overreacted a touch, but I went for a walk on the beach to calm down, and decided to leave the world of first person shooters to my boyfriend Jay.

I think that would have been the end of my exploration into first person shooters, considering how traumatized I was by the Quake incident. That is, until I discovered Counterstrike, an online counter-terrorism modification for Half-life. This is how it happened…

Week One, Day 1 12:43 p.m.
Went to bed an hour ago listening to Jay play Counterstrike again. I think I was somewhere in that space between awake and asleep when I started seeing what I was hearing from his computer. I remember dreaming in Counterstrike at that point. Still don’t want to play though, too hard a game for me, and besides I hate first person shooters. Woke up and asked Jay to turn the sound down so I could sleep. I guess I’ll try again now.

Week One, Day 5 7:21 p.m.
Sat on the bed and watched Jay play Counterstrike for an hour or so. It looks interesting, and at least it’s team play instead of deathmatch. Oddly enough, I didn’t get all dizzy like I did when I tried to play Quake, so it’s less disorienting. I like the team aspect of it, even though half the time the team wasn’t listening. When they did listen, they won more… you’d think they’d learn from that. Oh well, what do I know – it’s not one of my games. I just watch.

Week Two, Day 12 5:15 p.m.
I watched Jay play a whole lot more Counterstrike this week. He’s really good at it. He plays it a lot though, so I guess he’s had time to get good at it. Still, if he’s any indication of regular Counterstrike players, then even if I did want to play I’d get myself blown away (fragged) within ten seconds of connecting. That is, if I wanted to play. But I don’t.

Week Five, Day 32 1:39 a.m.
Jay’s really good at this. I work in the morning, I should be sleeping instead of watching him play. Am I addicted to watching him play now? I kinda think maybe I want to play… but not really. Because I’d be really bad at it. I hate when I’m bad at a game. Jay thinks I should try anyhow, because everyone’s bad at it when they first start. Maybe I’ll think about it… I don’t know.

Week Six, Day 38 4:30 p.m.
I told Jay today that I maybe want to try playing. He got all excited and happy (“Woohoo, a game we can play online together!”) Now I just have to go buy my own copy of Half-life, so that we can both play at the same time.

Week Six, Day 39 5:48 p.m.
I went to the store this afternoon with a friend of mine. When I asked the salesguy about the game, he gave me that perplexed “why do you want that game?” look. Left the store annoyed and disappointed, since they didn’t have the version that I wanted anyhow. I’m also in the process of infiltrating Jay’s clan, Jedi With Guns, [JwG] for short. I just visit their IRC channel, I figure it can’t really hurt, it might even help when I start playing… you know, instead of ‘Gang up on the Newbie,’ they might actually show me some tactics (like how to buy a weapon, to start off with.) They seem to like me… they could just be humoring me because I’m Jay’s girlfriend, though.

Week Six, Day 40 7:02 p.m.
Staring at my computer, no Half-life, no Counterstrike. Getting frustrated and sick of waiting. Going to bed.

Week Six, Day 41 8:30 p.m.
Defragging my hard drive and finding space for Half-life. Ever notice how hypnotic watching a defrag actually is? When it’s done I going to install Half-life (finally) and the Counterstrike mod then I can start fragging instead of defragging. (yes, I know… that was a really bad pun. I apologize.)

Week Six, Day 42 3:26 a.m.
When I finally got Half-life and Counterstrike installed and was connected to a game server, it was midnight. After all the waiting and trying to get everything working, I decided to play for a little while instead of going to bed. That was over three hours ago… I think I lost track of time. Before I go to bed, here is the screenshot of my first game – my name is Zith. Congratulations go out to Scout-Sniper for being my first three frags (hmm… did he say something about wanting his name changed to protect the guilty?) and to Laughing Boy for being the first to frag me. It’s more fun when you know who you’re playing against, I’ve decided.

Week Seven, Day 45 11:30 p.m.
[insert profuse amounts of expletives here]
My sound card died tonight. Granted, it was an ancient 16 bit sound card, probably not even a brand name, and it had to go sometime… but tonight we have a clan match. Oh, Jay’s clan voted me into Jedi With Guns two days ago. I feel like the girl on stage playing tambourine who’s only there because she’s the lead singer’s girlfriend. They assure me I’m not, but I’m not entirely convinced, since I’m really bad at the game.

Week Eight, Day 49 3:43 a.m.
I took a few days off, since trying to play without a sound card was beyond frustrating – it’s a whole lot easier to locate the enemy when you can hear where they’re firing at you from. Unfortunately, the addiction has its tentacles attached to me, and I broke down tonight after watching Jay play for about five minutes (gotta love my willpower…) With only the echo of Jay’s computer telling me what was going on in his end of the game (more disorienting than helpful), I tried to play again. Considering the relative silence I was playing in, I don’t think I did too badly… I’ve actually improved since my first night playing. This isn’t saying I was good, rather, I’m far from good, perhaps somewhere below average. But I am better. It’s taken me half an hour after playing to wind down enough to get to sleep… this is better than working out!

I could tell you that I play games for the fun of it, and I wouldn’t be lying. I could also tell you that winning doesn’t matter… but then I would be lying. No matter how much I play for the enjoyment of it, the adrenaline rush and the challenge, there just isn’t much more satisfying than fragging someone who I know for a fact is a far better player than I am. I play against people who are good so that I will learn and play better. Jay happens to be among the best players I know. Some of our other clan mates are equally as good. Pretty much all of them are better at the game than I am… but they’ve been playing longer. And if I claim that it’s not a big deal if (when?) I get a better score than they do, then I’m lying through my teeth. I’m actually trying pretty hard not to gloat, because that’s bad form, and they’ll only get me back. (shh, don’t tell them I said that!)

Oh, wait… I’m a nice girl. I’m not supposed to be telling you that. I’m supposed to graciously accept when the other players are better than me, right?

I don’t think so. And the day my frags outnumber Jay’s, even if it only happens once, can’t be too far off… all I need is to regain my hearing (get a new sound card), and maybe get about 50 more frags per round and I’m on my way. It could be a long trip, but now that I’m in, I don’t think I’m able to get back out…. Oh, gotta run, we’ve got a clan match in 20 minutes and we’re discussing strategy on IRC before we play, and I haven’t played in over ten hours…

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