I thought I’d start 2013 with something a little personal, something I’ve had stored up inside for a long time, look away now, this could get a little… sentimental. These are two things that have been on my mind for over 6 years…
Part 1 – Bill and Ted
Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, one of my all time favourite movies as a kid, and also a favourite of one of my best friends, Martin. Coincidentally (or not…) one of us was short and blond, the other tall and dark. We weren’t part of a band, but always wished we were part of Wyld Stallyns, neither of us played an instrument, but always pretended too. Like Bill and Ted we were inseparable, you couldn’t really imagine one without the other, and if apart, wouldn’t be half as good.
I’ve been meaning to write this post since the early days of Reality Glitch, and even though it started as a retro gaming and movies blog I felt I needed to share some things on a more personal level too. Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure epitomises the relationship I had with my best friend, (beyond the height and hair colour) we did most things as a duo, since the earliest days of play school (Kindergarten if you’re in the US) we were together, in and out of trouble, at home, at the rec, on school trips all the way through secondary school, college, and University.
If I was writing an autobiography, he would dominate the pages from school to University, if there was a story or anecdote from the past he’d generally be involved, he was a huge part of my childhood and beyond, always there, never far, he always had my back and in the later days we could talk about anything, comforting, kind and non-judgmental. You get the point, this man meant the world to me, this blog post isn’t a tribute (although if it was, it would be the greatest one in the world), it is just me, sharing.
Gaming played a huge part in our lives, specifically table top games, AD&D 2nd Edition, Star Wars and Heroes Unlimited, we used to love any sort of RPG, which also included point n’ click and text adventures. I introduced him to the Amiga, and he introduced me to the PC. In amongst all the RPGs one of his favourite games for the PC was Wolfenstein 3D, even though it gave him motion sickness. He loved anything Lord of the Rings, Red Dwarf and Star Wars, favouring later PC and PS games such as Alone in the Dark, Final Fantasy and Knights of the Old Republic.
I’ve struggled with the loss of my best friend, really struggled, not many people know that, I hide things very well. You’re guaranteed to find me in an odd and melancholy mood around certain months of the year, for weeks at a time. I’m hoping this blog post will help me put the loss of my best friend into perspective, help me move on, or maybe even just understand, but who knows. All I really know is that I miss our adventures together and most of all I miss his company and friendship. Bill just isn’t the same without Ted, it’s been a long time since he passed, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him.
This leads me onto the next part of my blog post, I wasn’t sure if these should be separate, given the tone of this next part maybe more ‘ranty’ than I’d like… still, got to press on.
Part 2 – The LAN
On the subject of gaming, specifically PC, I’ve previously written a post about LAN gaming, and to be honest it is a genuine post I still stand by. However, the origins of the ‘LAN’ I feel go deeper than that post, and personally to me, was an idea by 3 guys (2 brothers and some blond guy) sitting in a bedroom finding a way to hook up their 3 PCs to play some Command and Conquer Red Alert. One of the guys was a lot more helpful than the other two (I was not the one guy). We played many games of Red Alert after that, and from here the idea of the ‘LAN’ began to grow.
We began to involve other people, limited bedroom space this only meant including one other person, we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving to join our exclusive club than Martin, we invited him along and he brought new ideas (mainly involving snacks). The LAN now grew out of 4 guys wanting to play PC games together and hang out. Next we needed a place to hang out. We set about planning and converting a dilapidated old shed at the bottom of my friends garden into a fully functioning and comfortable LAN gaming workshop (affectionately known as The Shed). We had space for at least 8 people, all hooked up and ready to play (PCs and snacks not provided).
This idea took a while to get going, and even longer to set up and build, but it was worth it in the end. By this time as well games had moved on, Red Alert was replaced by Generals and Zero Hour, Battle for Middle Earth, Dawn of War, Quake and Far Cry were some of the more earlier titles we played. In retrospect, these are the days I’m most fond of, the 4 of us.
For me the LANs had their ups and downs when new people started to join in, conflict of interest was apparently inevitable. A major turning point for me was the loss of Martin (as mentioned earlier). LANs for me would never be the same again without him, the seat he always occupied behind me was empty, a depressing realisation. Not that I think anyone really understood but I could be very picky about who sat there. After this more pressure was put on the host, who was unfortunately (in some respects) the kind of guy who really couldn’t say no to anybody. To make matters worse, one of what I call the ‘founding members’ of the LAN group was banished and exiled, never to be allowed to return again, something that still grates me to this day.
Part 3 – The way we used to be…
The second part of this post, although related to the loss of Martin was inspired when I met up with and chatted to the exiled member of the original 4. It was a nice catch up, a hark back to the old days, we reminisced and it was fun. He mentioned the LAN, he asked me could the LANs be like they were back in the day, it was a nice idea, but I was honest (or cynical, you decide) and mentioned that I don’t think it will ever be the same again, things move on, and in some respects I think I’ve chosen not to move with it, not emotionally anyway.
The LAN meant more to me than gaming, and I’ve found it very difficult to enjoy those subsequent events, especially when Martin, Simon and Andrew haven’t been there. The recent LANs are great, and I’ve got nothing against them, the hosts do a great job of keeping it going and I’m still invited, I just know there’s something missing and it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get back.
Thanks for listening guys, back to the retro gaming next… (promises promises – Ed)