I admit that I am a geek. I state this proudly, with no concern of the stereotypes that accompany the word.
I can repeat verbatim the movies “Princess Bride” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” My dogs do not chase tennis balls but rather large fuzzy 20-sided dice. I have read The Lord of the Rings several times, and spend most of Christmas watching the expanded film versions. I spent $20 on my birthday for a ticket to see full-screen showings of two episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The household is fully prepared for a zombie invasion. Finally, the ultimate giveaway of my geekiness is that I vote “The Avengers” as the number one film of the year.
I am a product of the late ’70s, early ’80s. I lived at the video arcade. I loved Matthew Broderick in “War Games.” As I grew, I found myself in the occasional Dungeons and Dragons game, but loved all forms of gaming. I played Pong when it first arrived, played a number of different games on Atari, and later, Nintendo. Mario fell many times under my guidance, while the music drove the household crazy.
With computers, I remember playing the first Wizardry in 1982. In 2001, Wizardry 8 came out. I was right there, keyboard ready, to take on the blobs of slime, skeletons and thieves hiding behind every rock and stone. I remained true to my old-school gaming roots.
Today, I am one of 8 million people who play World of Worldcraft or WoW. I hunt orcs and undead creatures. I try to do a variety of achievements such as complete certain series of quests that can involve killing evil dwarves or furry dog-like kobolds, and I have fun doing it.
I bring all this up because it is election season, and we all know that when it gets down to collecting that last vote, it is PvP – Politician vs. Politician, or a player vs. player duel to the ‘death.’ This year, in Maine, the State Senate race has become heated because the sock-knitting, WoW-playing Democrat contender Colleen Lachowicz has been identified by Republicans for playing a person of ill-repute in the game, a rogue that stabs and poisons, “behavior unbecoming of a state senator.”
“We need a senator who lives in our world, not Colleen’s world,” some said. There have also been quotes taken from forums where Lachowicz used foul language and discusses how much she enjoys playing her character since it can sneak up and backstab other characters.
A quick Google check finds the following: 80 percent of all households have home computers, 50 percent to 65 percent have some form of gaming console, and Angry Birds has been downloaded more than 1 billion times. Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Let’s Dance are just some of the top-selling games on all these systems. On Facebook (more than 600 million people use it on their phones, let alone computers), there are a number of games to chose from to enjoy and compete.
The reality is that there are so many avenues for playing games, it’s almost impossible to keep track of who is doing what where. Using the games a particular person plays as an example of their character is the same as using what books someone reads, the movies they watch, or what channels are programmed to their remote to determine their character. It is a small part of the kaleidoscope of who we are and how we spend our time, and if a little bit of fantasy role-playing just happens to come along, so be it. There are no laws being broken.
Personally, I want a senator who understands my world. I am a person who uses technology for both work and pleasure. The fact that at times I happen to be a cross-bow-carrying elf hunter who is tracking down a thief has nothing to do with how I interact with others or meet my monthly budget. I understand that there is a difference between my online character and the person controlling the keyboard. I have spent hours playing Tetris, Bookworm, Bejeweled, Zuma or Plants vs. Zombies. All of us have succumbed at some point to a state of mindless peace.
The image of stereotypical gamer is over. We are out of the basement and playing any time we have an available moment. We are playing on buses, planes and trains. We play while waiting for the doctor. We play during lunch break and when we think our boss is not looking.
And, late at night, if you happen to walk by my house and see the bedroom light on, you know that I am still looking for that thief when I should be sleeping. Because no geek likes to sleep when a quest is unfinished.