Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Guys are Handsome, Girls are Pretty

The title is a riff on the line from Kindergarten Cop, truly though it doesn't matter.  When I first heard the term "Pretty Gamer" my brain did the typical guy thing: pictured a Bettie Page type carrying a dice-bag, a D&D book in one hand, game controller in the other, and wearing a Red Dwarf t-shirt. Then I read what Pretty Gamer is about.  And I have to agree.

As someone who was born in the late '60's, grew up in the '70's and '80's, didn't discover D&D until my junior year in high school, didn't really get into video game until the late '80's/early '90's and honestly didn't realize I was a kind of a geek until about '95 or '96 - I've never felt right in my skin.  I've always felt like the outsider.  In grade school, I was the kid that got beat up.  In junior high, I was "that kid from Wisconsin". And in High School, I just tried to be "normal."  My father was a truck driver so we moved around a lot; in my 12 years of basic education I went to 7 different schools in 2 different states, so I was frequently the "new kid" in school. The first people that I would always end up making friends with were the nerds, geeks, and oddballs.  They were always accepting and didn't care that you were different, new in school, whatever...they just wanted to be friendly.  I may have not realized it then, but I was becoming a geek.

My mom and dad read a lot.  Mom would read fantasy and sci-fi.  My dad would read action adventure.  I would eventually start reading both.  You could easily spot me with either Stainless Steel Rat book or a Mack Bolan, The Executioner book at any given time. Reading lead to an easy acceptance of Dungeons and Dragons when a friend introduced it to me.  Funny enough, most of my RPG gaming occurred when I enlisted in the Army after high school.  You would be surprised how many soldiers play, and the wide variety of RPG's too.

My folks had refused to buy any kind of video game system.  During summers I can remember my friends and I going to K-Mart so we could play the Atari 2600 or Colecovision demo models they had.  One time while my folks were grocery shopping I ended up spending $5.00 in the Defenders machine at the front of the store.  My step-dad chewed me out for wasting money but ended up buying a VIC-20 my junior year with the idea that it could be educational for me while he used it to manage the home finances.  It eventually ended up in my room with a couple video games stacked next to it, but it was through the Army that video games really connected with me.

Prior to being deployed to the Middle East for Desert Shield and then Desert Storm (the first war in Iraq), I bought a GameBoy and took it with me.  I finished Super Mario Land on the border of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. I had also had the world record score on Revenge of the 'Gator.   Getting back from Desert Storm I bought a Sega Genesis, then a Turbo Grafx 16, then the SEGA CD add-on... It was the start of an obsession.

Still, being comfortable with who I am really didn't happen until I discovered Penny Arcade Expo (PAX).  I missed out completely on the first PAX, but just happened to catch the call for Enforcers for PAX 2005. Geeks and nerds of all stripes - gamers, comic book, sci-fi, etc. all converged at one place in huge numbers. It was a bit overwhelming.  While I always kind of thought I was one starting around '95, it really wasn't until PAX 2006 that I really started be comfortable with me being a geek, a nerd, a gamer. 

Hi. I'm Lord Moon, I'm a Pretty (Handsome) Gamer, and I'm fine with who I am.  :D

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