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May 25, 2011 / jwaxo

Starcraft (Not Raised on Video Games)

[One thing I’d like to do is start collecting blog posts from other people about their experiences growing up with video games. If you think you have an interesting story, email it to me and I might draw some pictures for it and throw it up here, or save it for a rainy day. Today’s post is from my friend Joel, who stipulates that, while he didn’t really play video games until high school, he feels like they helped him grow up. Or something. The following is entirely Joel’s, with minor editing, captions, and most of the drawings by yours truly.]

Trivia: I had the Starcraft cursor as my PC’s cursor for three years.

Thinking of the proper topic for this was tough, but picking a topic for any paper is always oddly unbearable for me. So I venture to answer a simple question, how was I raised on video games? The truth is I wasn’t, I grew up on a farm and I will always be grateful for that.

Times change though, and now the farm is nothing more than a memory. My family, my mother, father, sister and myself moved to a small subdivision when I was about ten years old. This was a bit of a
culture shock for me to say the least, but I stray from the point. I had never laid my hands on anything technological with the exception of a T.V. before my family moved.

My parents decided to get themselves a computer, I don’t know why, but I do know that it was incredibly expensive, that much was stressed to me. It was on the top end of the devices for the time,
with specifications too pitiful to mention. It came in this gigantic server style case over three feet high and a little 15in CRT monitor.

The enormous tower looked complicated, intimidating and scary with wires running every direction, fans whining and lights blinking. The thing was a monument to my technological ignorance.

This picture is not meant to indicate that cowboys are ignorant.

I took it apart. I took it apart, put it back together, and things have never been the same.

It was not long after that I ran into a new friend with similar interests and more experience. This is the man who introduced me to computer gaming and LAN parties. I was probably 13 when we met and my parents had given me a HP pavilion. That was the computer on which I first installed Starcraft. It was my first game and is still a running favorite.

The first Starcraft game I played was a LAN game. I was practically a third world country in between two superpowers fighting to the death. I wish I could tell you I swept through in the end once they had
weakened each other. I wish I could tell you I caught on quickly and put up a fight. However, my armies were swept aside in much the same way my little Jack Russell Terrier chews up stuffed animals, in a
savoring way with absolutely zero hope for the stuffed animal.

I took it in stride and resolved to practice and put up a good fight at the next lan party. When I thought I understood the game, when I thought I could beat another person, I tried playing online. I quickly
learned one thing that still holds true today: if they don’t speak English, they will kick your ass.

They also type out laughter in the strangest ways. Who laughs “kekekekeke”?

My favorite games were three versus three, or top versus bottom. The games would always start the same way: Protoss would build defenses for the group, Zerg would rush the enemy, and Terran would…
keep to themselves. The opposing Zerg players would meet in the center of the map and kill each other leaving the production of photon cannons on both sides to continue un-interrupted.

I never played the campaign; I realize I probably just made someone cringe. I was never interested in the story, I was interested in playing against people. I like to scheme and plan against another person, to
make contingency plans, to trick them. This is probably why I enjoy playing as an engineer in TF2 so very much. I wander out and setup a sentry in the oddest place I can find and then lure some unsuspecting
player to chase me into its line of fire. This usually involves me dying, but, I look up to the right and see “***** Died to Sentry (Jazz)” and I smile every time. This obsession with multiplayer games does of
course have the Metal Gear Exception, which should surprise no one.

Strategy games, and Starcraft being the foundation of, offer this awesome level of complexity that requires planning and foresight. Building the base to optimize the production of units while both
defending your territory and attacking with multiple groups of units makes my head spin just talking about it, but I love it.

Needless to say I put up a good fight at the next LAN party, just not nearly good enough. I do love a good strategy game, however, they do take a very long time to learn. One must know the strengths
and weakness of every unit, and in some cases, his enemy’s units. Taking the time to read a unit’s description to determine what the unit is good for, is probably not the best use of resources while your
base is under siege. All these things must be known ahead of time, so that in the heat of battle, you will know exactly what is needed.

And I love it when a plan comes together.

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