Sunday, December 16, 2007

All In The Family

I've been wanting to make a post like this for a while, but a post over at WarMama (a blog which I have just recently stumbled across) has inspired me to actually write it! This is really an article in two parts; hopefully it doesn't get too long.

For starters, let me tell you a little bit about my gaming background. I have been playing video games since I was in diapers. You know those "baby books" where parents can record memories of their children as babies? There's a section in mine called "Favorite games", where one is, presumably, supposed to write down things like "Peek-a-Boo" and "Patty-cake". Mine says "Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Dig-Dug, Pitstop".

What can I attribute this long gaming history to? Easy. A Commodore 64 computer, a techie uncle, and my parents. This was the early-80s, and the Commodore 64 was the hot new tech toy on the market. My techie-uncle secured one for our family, and thus our love affair with gaming was born. My parents played video games on this thing all the time, and often my uncle would come over and play with them. Our family all huddled around the TV (we hooked our C64 up to it) playing video games together-- these are among my earliest memories.

My dad and uncle were hugely competitive about their video gaming; they would often challenge each other over and over to very spirited matches in various multiplayer games. But my mom had in herself a determined streak as well. We had an "Aliens" video game, based on the film of the same name, which included a particularly difficult maze-like level. My mom sat down one day with a bunch of graph paper and mapped out that entire huge level. We never had any problems with it after that, with my mom's guide always kept in a handy location.

We had another game called "H.E.R.O." which involved maneuvering a little guy with a jetpack around, blowing up walls and avoiding spiders and bats (which, apparently, our heavily-armed protagonist was no match for). My father and uncle managed to get to level 9 or so. My mom, however, practiced this game in secret when they didn't know, and one day told them that she could get to level 18. They laughed and didn't believe her, and then she sat down and proved them wrong. To this day we still talk about my mom, the legendary H.E.R.O. Champion.

Those were my early years of childhood. Since then, a lot of things have changed. My uncle stopped making weekly visits, gaming got more and more sophisticated, and my parents stopped playing video games altogether (for the most part). But they instilled a love of gaming in all six of their children, I being the oldest, and perhaps more importantly, they taught us in our earliest memories that gaming was not only fun, but could give you a sense of accomplishment as well.

Now let me tell you about my brother and sisters and World of WarCraft.

My brother is 21, he is the next oldest after me. He was the first to get into WoW, he'd been excited about it since some of the earliest trailers and I think he played the beta (but I'm not sure). I don't know about his early characters, but since Burning Crusade he has played a troll warrior on a PvP realm. He has his own guild (which many of my friends are also a part of), and is the main tank for their end-game raiding. Fiercely pro-Horde and pro-PvP, you could almost say his taste in the game is the opposite of mine. But we both share a deep respect for players who become good at their chosen class. (And now that I think about it, I like PvP and the Horde too, so maybe we're not so different after all!)

Then we have my 16 year old sister. She does a very good job at balancing WoW and several other activities such as dance, band, and her many other talents. She actually took all of November off from WoW so she could concentrate on NaNoWriMo. She sort of drifts between her characters on WoW. She had a resto druid that she got up to about level 40 or so, at which point she got bored and began playing a hunter (woot!) who she got up to a decent level as well. Currently she enjoys playing a resto shaman. (She likes healing.) She is very versatile, comfortably switching between Alliance and Horde and various classes and party roles and realm types. She's even given roleplaying a shot. Certainly a joy to group with and play with should you happen to cross paths with her.

Moving on now to my 13 year old sister. She is a fairly high-level balance druid, and lemme tell you, she is dangerous. She loves PvP. She pretty much only ever plays on PvP realms, and from the moment she logs in to the moment she logs off she can usually be found in the war room in Stormwind, queued up for AB, AV, and WSG. I can't help but wonder how many people she plays against would guess that the moonkin who just kicked their butt is actually a cheerful and good-natured 13-year-old girl. Her overall enthusiasm for the game is refreshing; she really plays to have fun, and have fun is what she does.

My 10 year old sister just started playing recently. She is highly intelligent with a fiery personality, so perhaps it only made sense that she would pick a blood elf warlock as her main character. She has since developed a tendency to blurt out "For the Horde!" at random intervals, and when she says it, she means it-- she seriously considered carving the Horde crest into her pumpkin this past Halloween. All I can say regarding her is: look out, Alliance.

My youngest sister has yet to really play the game much, but with her siblings around, she really has no escape, I'd think...

As you can probably imagine, our family get-togethers are... interesting, to say the least. Family dinners devolve into frenzied WoW discussion more often than not, much to the, erm, amusement of our parents. I think they probably think we're a bit crazy, shaking their heads and smiling and quoting Marge Simpson at us: "Let me enchant your pants!" But what they may or may not realize is that, really, they were our inspiration. I credit my parents, my mom especially, with teaching us that video games can be a fun, family affair and something that you can take pride in. Just as my mom once sat down and mapped out an entire game level in "Aliens", or devotedly honed her skills in "H.E.R.O."-- that is how I try to play my hunters in WoW.

So, thanks, mom and dad. Maybe it sounds silly, but we video-gaming kids owe ya one.


WyldKard said...

If your folks are "retired" gamers, consider getting together with your siblings and buying them a Wii if they don't already have one. The games are pretty easy to pick up, and more than one retired gamer I've known has enjoyed Nintendo's latest offering, even if it doesn't hold my own attention for more than a few minutes.

Pike said...

My parents do have a Wii at the house, they got it not too long ago. My dad has fun with it on occasion, but my mom has yet to try it out.

I would love to get one for myself to be honest... though I don't know if I'd have the time to play that plus the other games I try to make time for.

Baila said...

WoW! Great post! Thanks for the link. Just fyi tho, it's Warmama (not that Wow Mama isn't a wonderful name...kinda...for someone else.)

Ah yes...a Commodore 64, brings back memories. I had to set an alarm to remind me to get out of the Gopher Hole I was in. Back in the ancient time before advertising was allowed and going 1200 baud was sweet!

Pike said...

Eeep, sorry about that, fixed it for ya!