We’ve been gamers for a very, VERY long time. TheHubs started out with his TRS-80 and Commodore64 way before we ever met. Me, I got a computer when I got to college. It was an amber monochrome screen, dual boot 5.25″ floppies. NO HARD DRIVE. Those didn’t even exist. So, yeah, I’m dating myself here. But you get the picture.
A few years after we got married, he bought the SuperNES. I would watch him for hours play (and get angry) the games. Oh Lord, the Zelda music still echoes in my brain. Next came the computer. Wolfenstein, Ultima Underworld, and Mechwarrior were his favorites. I could watch, for a little while. I fell over with the motion of Wolfenstein and feel queasy. He’d stay up until the next morning gaming when he had to go to PT at 5am and stay up the whole day after. That was in our 20s. He could do that. No problemo. Me, I could stay up way later than I can nowadays, but not all night.
When he was at work or in the field, I got on the computer and played SimCity 2000 from time to time. I couldn’t deal with the motion of Wolfenstein, and I loved watching him play Ulitma Underworld rather than playing it myself. And then the Playstation came out. All the new and wondrous games for that system were amazing and, again, I would watch him play for hours and hours. What else could I do? The games he played were single player. There were a few games that offered multiplayer, and I did get into a small bit of gaming, like Tekken and Tekken 2. I had no clue what I was doing, but I sure did whoop some butt and make a few guys cry when the store I worked at set up an “advertisement” session at a local club on Friday nights. But those kinds of games got boring quick. I loved the RPGs and side-scrollers that he played all the time…the ones with substance and story! The ones that made you think. But to me, they were not fun to play alone.
He came home from work and played on them, constantly. Either the console or the computer. And eventually, they became “The Other Woman.” I hated the computer. I hated the console. I never got to talk to him, to go out with him, to sleep by his side anymore. I hated it.
He wanted a new computer and bought all the parts for it but hadn’t put it all together yet. And one day, I sat there thinking, I needed to see what this was all about. These computers. And why he found them so fascinating. It couldn’t be that hard to put it all together, right?! Well, by the time he came home from work I had it mostly all put together. I had him check it all out and make sure everything was good. It was.
And thus began my IT trek.
Shortly after this, I received his old computer. And it went from there. Every time he got a new computer, I got his hand-me-downs. And then Doom came out. We hooked up a null modem cable so we could play against each other. I loved playing against him even if I wasn’t very good. That is, until I learned that he was cheating! LOL! He sat behind me and would shoot off his gun. If he heard it on my speakers, he would know I was close. Yeah, what a sneaky little goober. I plugged in headphones after that and we kept on gaming.
When Quake came out, we both worked at an Internet Service Provider. He set up a Quake Server for our customers and ran it. All the Tech Support Personnel had to do “quality assurance” so we logged in and played a game or 100. Yes, while we were on the phone helping to troubleshoot connection problems we are also in-game gibbing everything in sight. There may or may not have been angry retaliatory comments said that the customer should not have heard as well as the random hold button slip so I could finish off a fight.
And then, there was the grand daddy of all MMORPGS, Ultima Online. Somehow, I can’t for the life of me remember how, but we secured a spot in the Pre-Alpha, Alpha, and Beta tests. We were among the elite few who had the privilege of playing alongside the programmers, including Lord British (Richard Garriott), its creator and visionary. This was by far my favorite type of game play. To be in a world with so many other real life people, where you can join up with them or venture on your own and complete quests or just randomly level your skills. Unfortunate for us, we moved to Germany just before the public release of the full game.
At that time, you still had to pay-per-click on the phone line. Prime time was always more expensive and you had a shorter time frame per click. So, needless to say, we did not utilize dialup very much. Diablo and Hexen satisfied our gaming needs while we were there. And we always played multi-player. We were still disappointed we missed out on Ultima Online for 3 years, though.
After he came back from Albania/Kosovo, things started going downhill fast. The headaches he used to get every once in a while, brought on from several accidents back in Virginia, became increasingly worse. His moods began to change radically. I always attributed it to the pain. The doctors he saw on base never really addressed his pain other than giving him a toradol shot and sent him home. He would crash for a good 14-20 hours on that stuff. When we moved to Texas is was more of the same, until he met a doctor that diagnosed the migraines and prescribed migraine medication. That was a God send. But the neck pain still lingered. It got so bad he passed out a few times at the motorpool and finally his doctor said if he re-enlisted he would recommend being kicked out on a medical.
Hind sight is 20/20 and we should have gone that route. No one made an effort to tell him that was a “good” thing. They always led him to believe it would be an “other than honorable” discharge and he did not want that on his record. So, instead of the shame, he opted not to re-enlist. It did not help that we had discussed who ever made the most money would continue working while the other stayed home with the kids. I had gotten pregnant just before he got out so that was another deciding factor. But again, hindsight. While his base pay was less than what I made, we never took into consideration everything that went along with his base pay. In reality, he made more money. Maybe it was a good thing, though. His unit would have deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan 2 or 3 times had he stayed in. And maybe, just maybe, he would have gotten what he believes is a “hero” status. We truly believe that everything happens for a reason. So, we deal with our choices and continue our fight.
Since he has had increased issues with pain, insomnia, photophobia, and everything else that goes along with his PTSD/TBI and chronic pain, gaming has been our family time. It’s hard to plan anything outside when light triggers his migraines, heat and exertion exacerbates his pain. He barely can get outside to mow the lawn. Anytime we do anything as a family outside, or even just regular household chores, he pays heavily for it all later. Gaming allows him to sit in our darkened livingroom, reclined in his chair, and playing mind numbing games…unless he’s playing Halo or Call of Duty multiplayer. Man that gets him angry so quickly.
When we returned stateside, we got into all the MMOs again. We tried Ulitma Online but we were so far behind it was not fun. When EA bought them out, we knew it wasn’t worth it, especially when they offered up a maxed out character you could buy with REAL money. We went on to Lineage and Red Moon. But when the Redmoon server got hacked, we lost all heart for the computer games.
When the xBox was released he was right there, waiting in line all night to get the xBox and the games that came with it. Halo grabbed both our attentions and when they put out a call for beta for their xBox Live, he signed up and began testing. It was amazing! And we’ve been xBox fans ever since.
With the advent of multiplayer and the split screen capabilities of our favorite games, we’ve been able to do things as a family while not having to go outside and cause him undue pain. Yes, we miss being able to go on vacation. We tried 2 years ago to spend a day at Disney. He powered through most of the day there but we had to leave before dinner. We’ve never had a honeymoon, nor a REAL vacation. We do what we can when we can, and treasure those times. Our family gaming has been one of those treasures.
Since we upgraded to the new xBox One, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has come out with split screen capabilities. Nor have I seen any mention of new releases coming out with that capability either. Of course, we expected no backwards compatibility and decided to keep the xBox 360 for our old games. I mean, we’ve got thousands of dollars wrapped up in that system. We were not about to just dump it and start over. We had awesome games we still play! But all the new and cool up and coming titles that would ROCK to play multiplayer split-screen? Nope, not a single one!
Yes, there may be some Arcade games that feature splitscreen co-op, but those aren’t the games we love playing until the end of days. Call of Duty: Ghosts only offered the Extinction expansion pack with split-screen co-op. 4 maps with limited game play. There’s only so much you can do with that. And can I get a Hell No! to Just Dance?
Yes, Halo is one of our favorite games. (We wish they’d focus more on the co-op story mode. When 343 Industries took over, the story got shorter.) However, The Master Chief Collection is nothing more than Halo 1, 2, 3, and 4 remastered for the ONE. Um, yeah, already own them for the 360. Why would I pay for them all over again? And while I do love me the LEGO games, I still haven’t finished the last two I bought nor have I purchased the two latest ones. But that’s the extent of splitscreen co-op on the xBox ONE.
When the Destiny beta came out, I realized that we wasted our money on the xBox One and it completely ruined our family gaming. We actually downgraded our Destiny Collector’s edition from the xBox One so we could get TWO copies of the xBox 360 regular version.
I want to cry. The one thing we use as a coping tool for his disability as well as pretty much the ONLY family activity is now a $499 hunk of a paper weight. And don’t get me started on the fact that they took away the Family Plan from xBox Live Gold. I’m beginning to see now, they are nothing more than money hungry. They don’t care about the gamer or the family that games anymore.
Thanks Microsoft. </sarcasm>