31 Aug

Growing up you don’t just become obsessed with gaming. We all have a moment of divine clarity where everything suddenly falls into place like a magnificent Banjo Kazooie puzzle piece. For some of us it could have been when we learned that you could go behind the scenery in Super Mario 3 and for others it might have been when you found out that you could sticky grenade someone from halfway across Blood Gulch during your first lan party. We had those moments too, and here are a few of them.

Randy Yasenchak (Eldest Geek)
I can’t remember NOT gaming. We had an Atari 2600 and a 286 PC when I was a kid and I really liked tinkering with both. I’ve always been a huge geek…. a huge gamer.

Gaming hasn’t always been as socially acceptable as it is right now. Most of us gamers in the 80s and 90s tried to hide our habits because of its negative social repercussions.  In fact, when I was kid, I gave myself milestones of when I was going to “stop gaming” because I would have things that were too important to do; being a gamer was going to seriously hinder my goals of getting a job, finishing school, getting a girlfriend, etc. Or so I thought. All of those milestones of course have long since passed, but it was probably Ultima Online (the greatest MMORPG ever created) that solidified the idea that I’d be a gamer for life. I was in college. I was juggling a job (or two or three). I had a girlfriend and a very active social life, and yet I was still a pretty avid UO player. In hindsight, I was probably TOO avid.

But UO required a LOT of time. I guess that was the game that taught me to balance games within the life that I wanted. Moderation is key with everything. It wasn’t the moment that I realized I wanted to be a gamer. It was the moment that I realized I could be a gamer if I just properly balanced my priorities.

Ultima Online

Can you figure out what's happening in this picture? Randy could and he was SIX.

Jesse Baguchinsky (Staff Writer)
The moment where gaming really clicked in my head is when I got the hang of random battles in RPGs. The first experience I had in this genre was Super Mario RPG and since you could always see the enemies in that game, I thought that was true for all other RPGs as well. When I tried to play Final Fantasy VI (III back in the SNES days) I hated the fact that I could not see the enemies before fighting them and stopped playing RPGs for a while.

After a while I decided to give FFVI another chance. I buckled down and persevered through the random battles and eventually I got the hang of them. I ended up playing straight through to Vargas without trouble, but then I had to ask my friend how to beat him. However, after that I was completely fine with playing through RPGs with random encounters and Final Fantasy VI became one of my favorite games.

According to Final Fantasy, this picture is riddled with monsters.

Justin Johnson (Staff Writer)
“Final Fantasy Tactics” has always been one of my favorite RPG’s, but it wasn’t until the 2007 PSP re-release “War of the Lions” that I was really able to sink my teeth into it.  When I saw the topic for this week, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a singular moment of clarity I experienced while playing this game.

Your best friend in the FFT re-release (aside from the still-absurdly OP swordsman Orlandeau) is the Arithmetician.  The Arithmetician is the most advanced job class a caster can have, and practitioners of this job are able to cast almost any spell they have learned without expending any mana and without waiting to charge the spell.  The catch is that you can only target units who fit certain characteristics.  For example, you could hit any and all units (friend or foe) whose current level is a multiple of 4.  In short, the benefit of hitting multiple enemies at once is balanced by friendly fire.

This all changed with a fateful visit to the outfitter.  As I browsed the inventory, I found the “Rubber Boots”, an accessory that nullifies all lighting damage dealt to the wearer.  Upon seeing this, it was as though a wave of warm light washed over me as a chorus of angels marveled at the revelation.  I equipped my entire team with rubber boots, marched them onto the field of battle sporting their new galoshes, and tasked my Arithmeticians with spamming lighting spells.  No longer checked by the threat of friendly fire, my Arithmeticians were able to do massive damage to multiple enemy units while their allies remained unharmed.  Since then, no battle in FFT has unvoluntarily taken more than 3 turns.  I admire FFT for its fantastic story, its innovative combat, and its amazing soundtrack, but mostly because of little moments like this one where you are proud to find a game-breaking exploit.

Rubber Boots

Forger the Knights of the Round, this is the most powerful weapon in the Final Fantasy Universe.

Robin Meijer (Staff Writer)
The realization that “this whole gaming thing” was probably the best invention since the introduction of sliced bread came right around the time when online multiplayer became common in games. Rather than just playing games with my regular friends (where all 4-way splitscreen shooter matches boiled down to who was best able to monitor all screens at the same time and thus determine where everybody else was hanging out), the Internet now provided me with an endless supply of new people to play with.

The games that first introduced me to “the magic of online multiplayer” (and the associated horrors of ragers, discussions about ones’ mother, and boundless racism) were Burnout 3: Takedown and Battlefield 1942. Even though these games have long since been replaced by newer installments in their respective series, they still mark the turning point between being “being a kid who plays videogames” and considering myself to be a “gamer”.

Battlefield 1942

He'll never hear the bullet over the thunderous roar of the F-Bombs being dropped.

Trevor Faulkner (Staff Writer)
I played games when I was younger, but never to any great degree. The exception to this rule was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the original gray fatty Gameboy. I loved this game and I would always play up the point where you explored the lost woods and met the little allergenic raccoon (about 30 minutes into the game). When you walked past the raccoon you would end up right back at the start of the same screen and I never put much weight into this occurrence. I would just go on with my day exploring the town, beach and what little forest I was allotted over and over again. I did this for about a year.

One day a friend of mine came over and wanted to try the game. I figured it was fine since I’d pretty much explored the whole thing and let him give it a go. Watching over his shoulder intently I witnessed him approach the raccoon who, for the thousandth time, rambled on about his aversion to dust. Doing something I always thought impossible, my friend whipped out the pouch of magic powder and sprinkled some on the raccoon who proceeded to freak out all over the screen and allow him to pass. I was astonished when he walked past him and received A COMPLETELY NEW SCREEN! Apparently, there was a whole world to be explored AFTER the lost woods. I could not fathom that a game could have a larger scale than that simple beach, town and forest and some crazy sense of exploration dawned on me that made me actually feel like I was this little monochrome Link sprite lost in a awe inspiring world I couldn’t fully understand. Ever since then, I have found the sheer vastness of character and environment that games are able to accomplish amazing and have never put the controller down.

Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Forget the SAT's and College; this was the hardest puzzle Trevor ever faced.

So what about you? What was the exact moment where light shined down from the heavens and burned gaming into your very genes. Let is know so we can ridicule you on how you tried to catch Mewtwo in an Ultra Ball…rookie.

17 thoughts on “Getting to Know Your Geek: Divine Clarity”

  1. I think I’m with Trevor. I had beaten games before like Top Gear and SF2, but I probably first became an actual gamer when I was 8. This is when I finished Links Awakening for the OG Gameboy (and cried during the beautiful ending). The sad thing is that I took a 2 year hiatus from the game because I couldn’t finish a room in the second dungeon (how is a 6 year old suppose to know what the creatures are called to be able to kill them in order? Can you tell me what a Pols Voice is?). That was my first moment of clarity.

    I had many others, including Mechwarrior 3, Xenogears, THPS2, and finally, MGS2. From then on, I was a hardcore gamer (even with the 3 varsity sports I did).

    1. I’m glad to see someone else had big moments in Link’s Awakening (The most underrated Zelda game in my opinion). I feel like our childhoods were pretty close because I had definite moments with Xenogears (although the lengthy dialogue prevents me from playing it now), THPS2 and, in my case, MGS1. I almost wrote the article on Mega Man because it was the only game I spent more time on. Other than that we’re basically the same person, if you asked us if we wanted an ice cream cone we’d both say yes.

      1. I am actually at the end of Link’s Awakening but cannot beat that shadow thing (I was young, and haven’t gone back to it recently). When I was younger I printed out an entire walkthrough for the game, and it included the exploit to get 60 bombs, arrows, and one other thing that has a use limit. It is probably my favorite Zelda since I could take it wherever I went. I think the Grey cart is superior to the DX version cause of it being in Black and White and not needing a gimmick to sell (the DX armor isn’t really that much better and the extra dungeon is not that stellar).

  2. I think the moment was when I would get up at like 6am on Saturday mornings to play the old gray box before the Cartoons were on. Those mornings turned into a code writing fest for games like Bubble Bobble (probably my favorite game; its just that tune). Also one morning I managed to get to the 23 level in Duck Hunt.

    Another time is probably right around when I was six or seven (right around 1996-7) when I asked my parents for a Game Boy. I got my GB Pocket, and it was glorious in all its no power light, until the day it decided to not work right and corrupted my Link’s Awakening cart (but all me and my dad did is drive up to Redmond and get it replaced). I can’t forget about getting Pokemon (Red Version first) for Xmas eve and then getting up at like 6am on Xmas day to sit and play PKMN and wonder what I was supposed to do for like 30 minutes until I looked at the manual and wandered about town for a bit. Later on Xmas day I got Blue Version (which is the one I played the most and have actually beaten; yes all 151 PKMN).

    I think those moments are what solidified me as a gamer, but I still need to work on a couple of things like a girlfriend, but that will come with time. Heck, university won’t start up until the end of September anyways so it is kinda slim pickings and I am busy with some other stuff, as well as going to PAX (another thing; going to cons).

    1. Short answer, no. The game phenomenal when it was first released, and it was still phenomenal when it was re-released 10 years later.

    2. No way. FFT is an utter masterpiece, my favorite of the non-numbered FF’s. I’ve found dozens of ways to exploit the game, from rubber boots to super speed-boosted thieves, and every time I play that game I do something completely different.

      BTW, my spelling in that article was atrocious. I apologize for that. I wrote it up in notepad and copy/pasted into gmail without proofreading.

      1. who needs rubber boots for a calculator(arithmetician) to pwn? I just mastered it out and said ‘screw it, if I kill 3 of my party members using holy or flare but ALL of my opponents, its worth it – right?’

        1. That’s a cool technique to learn in FFT. I never tried to figure out the Calculator/Arithmetician because I thought the process was a lot more involved, having to take brave, faith, location, elevation and more into account (you know, calcutating…)

          I think I’ll try this type of playthrough for my next game. Thanks for the idea!

          Also, glad to see fellow fans of the PSP version. The game might have some slowdown but you get used to it, and the portability factor combined with a far better translation hits it out of the park for me.

          1. My problem with the psp version was that the translation was WAY to ‘over-britishized’ to a point of being unrealistically so. Some of the comments sounded so stupid.

  3. I think the game that hooked me on gaming forever was the original Dragon Warrior. That and days of me and my brother beating our heads endlessly(and futilely) against the unbeatable goliath that was the original Gauntlet.

    After that, the beauty of ff2’s story and the insane fun of super bomberman helped to cement it….

    And then I lost my soul to Super Metroid and never wanted it back.

  4. My name is Bruce (AKA, Spindoc), and I have a gaming problem. 😉
    Many years ago some friends introduced me to the entry drugs, like Asteroids and Centipede, then it was Starcraft (1), UO, and before long was hooked on the hard stuff, Evercrack, WOW, and Eve.
    Thanks to the patience of my girlfriend (and work commitments) I’ve weened myself off the hard stuff (MMOs) and I’m back to casual gaming; SC2, GA, and BFBC2.
    I’m glad I found this place. I’ve been looking for a “support group” of gamers in the DC area.

    1. Haha! We’re not all from DC, but a good number of the staff is.

      I think it’s funny that you call BFBC2 “casual”, but I guess it is when you compare it to the time needed for MMO gaming.

  5. I’m not knocking MMOs, they’re swamping most other genres in shear ability to generate revenue, but I just don’t have the time right now to play them. I prefer FPS these days because I can jump on without having to complete the “key quest” or schedule a time to meet 40 of my “closet friends” to complete the next step in my epic quest.
    P.S. Nice to meet you, Randy. You have some great graphic arts skills. Does this site have forums or some other means of member interaction? I found the forum picture at http://elder-geek.com/forums/

    1. Pleasure to meet you too. Sadly the forums are no more. Long story, but we’re hoping to put something better in place soon. In the meantime, we all chat pretty regularly in the comments section.

      Personlly, I skip from one game to the next to try and keep up with our video reviews.

      DC local, eh? You’re hitting up MAGFest right?

    1. Right now EG has a booth. What we’ll be doing at that booth… god only knows. Hopefully we’ll have some T-shirts or DVDs by then.

      It’s so sad, but I’ve been itching for MAGFest since about June. It’s so damn fun.

Comments are closed.