Friday, April 10

It was fun while it lasted

"Western Bar" is where it all began.
It was one of the first computer game that I played, when I was in primary school. And it was one of my prized possession then. Being the proud owner of a handheld computer games.

Never mind that the game was crappy by today's standards, the toy was a must-have to keep my young mind occupied. Then, school excursions were something I always looked forward to, because of the chartered school bus journey to and from the place of interest. That was the best time for me to play handheld computer games, and be the envy of my fellow classmates who didn't own one. And also a time for me to trade my game for other handheld video games.

The monotonous game lost my attention after some time, with one of the pioneer of the TV plug-in video gaming system of the 1980s.

Atari was the hype then, and I would go often to my Indian neighbour's house to play. Two kids in a gaming world of our own before we left for school. That was great times. Soon, the Indian Kid (Neelash) would move back to India with his parents.

I was secretly hoping that his family would leave behind his Atari set for me, as a gift or something. They never did, and boy, was I disappointed.

With Atari's low-resolution graphics and crappy storylines in its games, it soon gave way for the Nintendo system.

Nintendo was an instant hit here in Singapore. And spawned plenty of video game playing outlets. $1 for a 30 minute gaming session was a steep price for a kid like me during the 1980s. I had to forsake lunch and resort to stealing from my parents, to be able to pay for it.

It was around that period that I started playing truant for tuition classes. I will alternate between travelling on buses around Singapore, or sneak into gaming retail outlets.

Megaman, my all-time favourite game.

The technology boom soon gave birth to Sega.


And who could forget one of the best tag team games at all time - Bare Knuckles!

Chicken restores all your health points. Sorry Nat, vegetarians lose.

And Super Nintendo brought multi-player mayhem with Bomberman. 4 school students trying to blast the hell out of each other is pure fun!

Kids, try this at home, but on on your TV game.

Not satisfied at just playing at shops, I started going to arcades from secondary school days. Even the school principal will come down the arcade to catch us. But I was always lucky.

The Singapore government started imposing rules that kids in uniform were not allowed to enter arcades during school hours. But the arcade I went to provided home clothes.

Arcade 1 Governement 0
(Let's see how the upcoming casinos will play around the Singapore Government's proposed law of making every Singaporean pay $100 per entry)

One of the "less public" arcades I frequented had shady games (strip mahjong, anyone?), and was covered with cigarette smoke. But who cares anyway, I just wanted to play Street Fighter.

My Chun Li has kicked countless Ken and Ryu's butt. =p

I used to "eat" fireballs on purpose, thought they will give me bonus points. Ouch!

I was pretty good in fighting games then, and I slowly moved on to more advanced fighting games in the arcade. I was so addicted to the arcade that I once left my bag in the arcade, and went school empty-handed, only to remember that oops, I left my bag in the arcade.

One interesting observation about arcade kids. As they walk within 1 km from the arcade, you will see them start walking faster, and eventually run towards the welcoming doors of the arcade. Been there, done that.

I made plenty of friends during my arcade days.

Some good, some bad.
Some males. some females. =p

Did I mention that most female gamers in the arcade are very much into attention grabbing? I know. Too many females have tried to flirt their way for me to let them win. To which, I oblige (not because I'm horny, but because I'm a gentleman).

I have always mentioned that gamers are some of the most loneliest people. Arcade gaming was fun while it lasted. But from the minute you step out of the door, everything goes silent instantly. And you realise that you one just one miserable piece of sh*t.

Through my gaming blog, I gathered a group of like-minded gamers who soon became gaming buddies. I was pretty much the de facto leader of the group. There were ah bengs and nerds alike in my group, but we all were good friends, having dinner together after our weekend-long arcade fest kicking each other's butt in fighting games.

I was fortunate to be able to manage both arcade gaming and my studies well. It helped that I did not have much of a life apart from these 2 activities. I can be gaming everyday all the way till the day before my exams. And still get my As and first class honours. Damn, I'm good.

Then came the emergence of LAN gaming. Counterstrike, warcraft and other MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game) soon started to replace the neccessity of arcades.

One after another, arcades started closing down or downsizing. And more were replacing arcade machines with PCs. It very much resulted in the demise of my group, as we all started moving on to other things in life.

I started playing Warcraft, very much in thanks to my fellow colleagues who played the same game. And we will even secretly play the game in office, over lunchtime. We will also go to LAN centres over the weekends to play. To make sure that our friendship will not be challenged, we will often fight against the computer opponents.

Make love, not war.

Time flies, and one after another, my gaming colleagues left for other departments or companies, and we stopped gaming.

Wifey soon came into my life and woah, my own chick is a gamer!
God has a way of pairing like with like, isn't it?

She soon introduced me a free-to-play MMORPG called Fairyland.

I always have something for cute cartoonish games.
It was my first MMORPG. And I was pretty much addicted to it (as always). I will leave my computer on over the nights just to ensure that he will be levelling his profession (eg. fishing) while I was sleeping. It was a waste of electricity, but I couldn't care.

As Fairyland started moving from trial to official release, it started charging monthly fees, and the number of players drastically dropped. It was no longer as fun, when you see the people you know online starting to leave the game for other MMORPGs or real-life.

I moved on to World of Warcraft, an award-winning MMORPG of the Year. With monthly fees of about S$25 a month, it was pretty much affordable for a working man like me. It helps that Wifey and I will play the game together.

And so the addiction snip off many precious hours of my life. I had time for gaming, but never had time to do the more important things in life. My bills soon became late, and I only sleep 5-6 hours everyday.

My life was pretty much a mess, I have to admit. But I couldn't stop gaming.

Wifey subsequently lost interest in gaming, but I held on. She will be surfing Net and I will be selfishly playing my own video games.

I always knew that I am meant for bigger things. But as long as I keep gaming, it will ALWAYS be my Achilles' heel. Gaming can easily be compared to smoking. It is a slow poison that drains off my time. But I just couldn't kill it.

You can't just put a full stop to gaming after having your life revolve around it for close to 25 years.

It is pretty frustrating, wasting time gaming while your friends have better usage of the time - doing sports, charity work, starting their side business etc...

2 weeks ago, I finally had the BALLS to subdue my inner demons. I stopped playing World of Warcraft. And asked someone to help me sell my account (and Wifey's).

I can now wake up early and exercise, rather than switch on my PC first thing in the morning.
I have time to settle the bills, and no longer have much backlog in household duties.
I sleep earlier, before 11pm (used to be about 12.30-1am) and no longer have to sleep on the way to work.
I have more time for reading, and normally finish reading the free newspapers by the time I reach home (since I'm no longer sleeping between journeys).

I have never felt more alive than ever.
The 25 years curse has been lifted.
Now let me embrace life, and catch up on my lost youth.

While I am still able and senile.


Anonymous said...

Hey! Awesome post!

I totally was the same way, grew up with games, always gaming... Gaming was Life!

Also got snared into the World of Warcraft thing... played for 1 1/2 years, almost lost my wife and daughter to the obsession... finally got the nerve up to pull the plug 6 months ago - BEST THING I'VE EVER DONE

1. Marriage and family life drastically better

2. Tons more time to devote to RL things

3. Lost 80lbs so far! WOW I got fat playing WowCrack!

It might be hard somedays... of course it will, IT was such a big part of your life for so long, but just focus on the things that have improved... and as far as Warcrack is concerned, check out, if reading a few of these posts doesn't keep you grounded, nothing will!

Check out my blog sometime too :) I blog about fighting MMORPG addiction, among other things... I'll keep ya bookmarked and be back. Good luck and CONGRATS!


numbernine said...

Great post.

I will always remember how I practiced turning off the computer, putting away the floppy disks, and putting back the plastic covers on the PC when my mother's Corolla pulled into the driveway, and have everything in the original condition so that my mother would not realise I had been playing computer games when I was not supposed to.

Unfortunately I now have to watch her waste her (now fairly advanced) life in front of the computer for 5-6 hours a day. I'm wondering whether to nag at her the way she used to nag at me.

I hope that being a bookworm is not merely an addiction. I have set a moratorium for my reading books and I hope to stick to it.

Anonymous said...

very meaningful post =)

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