Once upon a time, there was a girl who hated first person shooter games. They made her feel sick to her stomach, and they were dumb anyway. Then she met a guy, a guy who played Quake. As an excuse to be around him, she'd hang out at his apartment, happily observing him play. Though things didn't work out between them, before long she was dating another guy, one who also played Quake. She'd watch him play, cheer him and his clustermates on in tournaments, and slowly developed an affection for the game totally unrelated to who was playing it. She still refused to play herself, being completely convinced that she'd never be able to do it.
The girl would spend a lot of time in her boyfriend's room while he wasn't there, usually amusing herself with Age of Empires or web browsing. One day, however, it just wasn't enough. Checking the cluster, only one of the guys was around, thankfully one of the ones less likely to tease her. After asking shyly how to start the game, she closed the door to her boyfriend's room and sat down in front of the computer. Ten minutes of Quake against the computer bored her, yet tantalized her with intimations of the real thing. Months of watching the game had apparently allowed her to overcome her motion sickness, and she wanted more. Sticking her head out into the hall, she called to the lone other guy to tell her how to connect to a multiplayer game.
With a delighted yell, he told her, and as she closed the door again, she could hear him cheering her conversion. That is, she could hear for a short while. Then the rockets took over. She wasn't very good at first, but she had ping on her side and the ready advice of the cluster. Playing, on a deathmatch server where she couldn't damage herself, became less of a hobby and more of an addiction. (Thankfully, two months later, the server went down and she was forced to play under more realistic conditions.) She kept to free-for-all servers, until finally her boyfriend ragged her one too many times.
She tried Capture the Flag once just to shut him up. But by the time she surfaced from her first 3 hour dive into it, she couldn't give it up. The ease of movement with the grappling hook and the organization of play appealed to her. Sticking to public servers, she played as Twink Bitch for a mere month before she was first asked to join a clan. She turned them down, her dream being to be invited into her boyfriend's prestigious clan, WA. Discouraged after learning that she just wasn't "good enough," she did join Clan SI for a short time, leaving them for DofA eventually. She never gave up the hope that WA would recognize the talent that she was so unsure of, and spent hours a day practicing. WA extended an offer only once, but feeling that she wasn't skilled enough, and loyal to the clan she'd just joined, she regretfully declined.
It's only with hindsight does she realize that yes, she was actually pretty decent, and could have been a respectable member of perhaps even the mighty WA.
I quit playing Quake only about a year after I began playing. I'd begun playing late into the game's career, and the game I loved was dying in favor of Quake II. CTF servers were disappearing, and most of the people I'd enjoyed playing with had quit the game or converted to Q2. I still miss it. I wasn't great, sure, but I was pretty good. The screenshot left was one of my best games, and one that I remember being very proud of. CTF 8 was always my worst map, but that particular match against DE, I just pulled something out of somewhere. I like to think I was pretty good with a rocket launcher and a lightning gun, and I know that I was great on CTF 4. I know it.
I regret to this day turning Lon and Ben down that day when they invited me into WA. It'd been my dream ever since I started playing to play with them officially, and looking back on why I declined, I realize I was placing a too much importance on things that weren't worth it. I'm damn sure I could have played well for them, represented them well. I was a damn good flag defender, and on 2m4 and 2m3 I could even be a wicked flag carrier. I took to the grapple like a natural, and had a fast computer and an excellent ping to back me up.
Though I've only played Quake occasionally since this last January, I've tried my hand at some other fps games in recent months. I dislike them all. Tribes, at least, is fun, but the extra thought that needs to go into it when you play Capture the Flag (repairing things and the like) is more effort than a bloodthirsty veteran of Quake I wants to deal with. Quake II is just terrible, with weapons that seek to be more "realistic" in their mechanics. If I want realism, I'll buy a gun and shoot someone. If I want a game, I want a game that ignores how long it "should" take me to switch between a rocket launcher and a BFG. The most promising, I suppose, is Quake III. The version I played felt more like Q1 than Q2, in both its physics and its weapon balance. Wishful thinking though that might be, it's still how it felt to me.
With regret, however, I have to acknowledge that I'll probably never again be a full time player of any game like Quake again. While it's a period of my life I miss terribly, looking back with fondness on 6 hour stretches of CTF, I couldn't ever go back. I'm no longer one of the better players out there, known even better than some of the best players because I'm a girl. With more girls playing, and more games out, I'm not special anymore. There's no game I could begin that hundreds of people aren't better at, and without the support of the cluster guys, I could never get to be awesome at a game like that again. But I was good. I truly believe that now, though I denied it to everyone for what seemed like years. I was nowhere near the skill of Josh, Lon, Thane, Chuck, Scott, and Jim, but I was good. Few though they were, there were times I that even outscored Josh or Lon, the legendary Soda and Ner'zhul, NorthBend and Bellevue, of WA. So I have that to hold on to, at least.
Ridiculous as it is, I'm getting all choked up, looking back on my days playing and what they were like. Damn, I miss it.