Saturday, 3 November 2012

About me

Who is the pedant?

I've been a gamer all my life. People nowadays often think of "old-school" gaming as being the NES... hell, some people count the first Playstation that way... But I got started on a VIC-20 and a Grandstand home "Pong" TV game. I've always been fascinated by technology and how games use it. Luckily I grew up in a household that had home computers as much as home consoles, which leant itself to experimenting with how these things work; I often tell people that, at an age when other kids are usually reading about Spot the dog chasing the big red ball, I was reading books on ZX Spectrum machine code.

(Well, I don't *often* say that, it doesn't really come up in conversation all that much... But this is the "pedant" leaking through, and I'll get to that later.)

For most of gaming's history (but especially starting in the 90s), computing gaming had an image problem. In the 80s it was a simple time waster. It was pointless, and anti-social. Most people didn't play them; it was a bit weird if you did. Games consoles came along eventually and started a shift, but it was the 90s until it became accepted. Of course, then media concerns hit; as graphic fidelity increased and violent images became recognisable, suddenly it wasn't just useless, it was potentially monstrous. Computer games of the 90s were starting to get hit with the same kinds of accusations that followed tabletop games in the 70s and 80s; they turned your kids into killers.

I'm happy to say that, as of 2012, I've yet to turn into a rampaging murderer. The lessons I learned from games were rather different. The one common theme going through almost all games is one of empowerment; one person CAN make a difference. If you improve, keep track of your resources, plan ahead, react fast enough, make the right choices, you can succeed. With enough continues, anyway. But more than that, I learned that when you see something wrong, you should set it right. Almost every game has this; defeat the evil overlord, save the hostages, uncover the plot. The lesson I learnt is that you should be good, and active. Use your abilities to improve the world.

A lifetime of experimenting with technology has made me a jack-of-all trades. I can program a little, set up basic websites, all that good stuff. When I found AMBER, I figured I could help. When I play online, I'm not normally the one who rushes forwards to take the enemy head-on... I usually play a supportive role. I'm the medic, or the sniper. Hence the wiki; a couple of nights work, to make something that everyone could use to help us all.

Alas, there are side effects to everything. See, those 80s views on games were a little more accurate than I gave them credit for. Gaming nowadays is a very social thing, with ubiquitous online play, deep narratives to discuss, and a console in almost every home. It's very easy to make and keep friends through games. In the 80s though... Not so much. A childhood spent in computers instead of parks led to an appreciation for set rules and systems, for knowing the exact limitations and acting within them. This created one small (but significant) facet of my core personality; I am irrationally, uncontrollable, annoyingly, intolerably pedantic. It's kinda my anti-superpower. Umm. Sorry about that. :D

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