My Gaming Pedigree

I’d like to think I’m a casual gamer; That would be a vast mistruth. I’ve owned an Atari 2600, NES, SNES, N64, Xbox, PS, GBA, Xbox 360, and several gaming computers. While I don’t enjoy all types of games, there are certain genres that continually suck me in.

Board Games

I grew up on Candyland, Parchisi, and Shoots and Ladders. I played Checkers with my grandfather, and Othello on Florida vacations. I never really got into Chess, though I’d like to. I played a lot of Monopoly throughout my early teens, though its hard to find people to play it with lately. I’m also seriously disappointed with the ‘modernization’ of the game. Lately I’ve gotten into Settlers of Catan.

Role Playing Games

RPGs of all types I adore, and all I require is a decent story coupled with better than average gameplay. Dragon Warrior was my first, though I didn’t beat it until years later. I remember Final Fantasy and its successors with fondness, but lately its games like Fallout 3, Mass Effect, and Deus Ex which really interest me. Not so much the FPS interface or nonlinear approach, but the depth of the story is what I enjoy. The best RPG I’ve played in the past decade is by far Tales of Vesperia.

First Person Shooters

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a FPS lover. I played my share of Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament in the college dorms. I developed enough skill to hold my own, but I never really devoted enough time to become a great player. I’ve played most of the big names out there, but they just don’t hold any lasting interest for me.

Real-time Strategy

As for RTS games, I really only play Blizzard titles, and then only for the single player campaign. The gameplay is fun, but I don’t have it in me to learn to micro units well enough to ascend to the higher levels of play. In an odd offshoot of this genre, DotA has peaked my interest lately. I do favor the more refined approach of League of Legends over the complexities of the Heroes of Newerth style.

Turn-based Strategy

TBS games are very much my thing, particularly those of the 4X variety. I can sit back and play them like chess. I started off with Galcon in high school, and rediscovered the genre with Civilization in college. GalCiv and its sequel really got me hooked on the space 4X genre. My only real complaints are the lack of competent AI, and the fact that games last too long for multiplayer to really work. Final Fantasy Tactics is an old favorite as well.

Massively Multiplayer Games

Of all the game types out there, the consistent lure for me is the MMO. I remember well the $300 phone bill and $400 AOL dialup bill in high-school, playing the original Neverwinter Nights. In college I had a brief experience with Ultima Online, and but I grew annoyed with its skill system. Eventually I found my way into Everquest, and that truly sucked up a large chunk of my life. Brief sojourns were taken into Earth and Beyond, Final Fantasy XI, Neocron, Ragnarok Online, and every MMO beta I could get my hands on. I still log in to Eve Online every time they give me a few free days, just to train some skills. World of Warcraft was the game that convinced me to give up Everquest, and life forced me to give up WoW.

With MMOs, I tend to get a very involved. Despite my efforts to keep my head down and just be another player enjoying occasional groups and raids, I somehow always end up in a pivotal role in a large raiding guild. I’ve been a member of half a dozen guilds, a raid leader in three of those, a longterm officer in two. I’ve handled recruitment, come up with encounter strategies, designed custom UIs, built add-ons by the dozen, and even designed and built a DKP system. My early warning sign that its time to quit is when I realize I’m spending more of my time doing managerial work for the guild than I spend actually playing the game.

While I do the math for many of the games I play, I take it to another level with MMOs. I’m the guy with the custom spreadsheets to track theoretical dps and hps numbers. I assign valuations to all statistics, and calculate the dps increase per point of DKP spent. I’m the one who evaluates performance after every raid: I look for damage taken, survivability, dps, buff uptime, burst, cooldown usage, rotation, consumables usage, and other such minutia. Part of the fun for me is knowing the mechanics so well that I cease to become a follower in my class’s community, and I start to become a leader. I don’t copy some guide’s spec and gear mindlessly; I break it down and understand it. Eventually I start developing and publishing my own guides with confidence, theory, and numbers to back it up. Every new class you play is a chance to master another area of the game, and to help push your guild-mates to new heights.

What’s Next?

I’m sure I’ll spend some time in Diablo III, and occasional gems like Portal 2 will always end up on my radar. As for MMOs, I’m content to wait around for the next big thing. I’m hesitant to pour myself into something that’s going to suck up my nights and weekends, unless its really that good.

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