The Backlog

By  | September 4, 2014 | Filed under: backlog

One of the most daunting things about coming late—and at an age where I’m aware of it—to this endeavour is the massive backlog. The history of it all—there’s so much of it. Sure, I played Loderunner once in a while (I liked the level editor). Pac-Man stressed me the fuck out. I remember when our first Mac came with Solitaire, Minesweeper (first square not protected), and Othello. MUDs. Tank Wars. Might & Magic. MUSHes. Mechwarrior (now we’re getting into the games my grown daughter remembers with great nostalgia; just last week she mentioned how much she missed playing it). Then there’s a long, long period of time during which I hardly played any video games at all (see below for my hand control issues).

Somewhere in the early years, I’d missed Fallout and Fallout 2. I know why—I don’t prefer top-down games. Might & Magic was my thing. I skipped FPS games as well, I liked my violence sparkling and magical. And there was the hand-control issue. I had a spinal injury years ago that resulted in some occasional “partial occlusion of the brain stem”. It’s as pleasant as it sounds and mostly it means if I’m not really careful I can lose the use of my hands. On a good day they’re a bit shit, sometimes the neuropathy is bad. Also, in my youth, I broke my right elbow and there’s chips in there that get stuck when I use the mouse too long. So, playing wasn’t happening for me for a long time. Later, I’ll get into how I feel about Fallout and Fallout 2, because I’m playing them now thanks to GOG.

I guess what I want to say here is something I got away from up there: no matter when you start, you’re behind. What I know from being queer and trans is that the history of your community matters. There is a legacy to every place you go and, if you live there, you should learn it. That doesn’t mean you should be intimidated by a backlog of games.

Having played all those games doesn’t mean you know why they mattered or why they worked. Reading about all those games, reading textbooks, doesn’t mean you know what it feels like to play them—it doesn’t give you the experience. I’m trying to find some balance between experiencing the games I missed while learning their place in games history (historicist criticism was one of my focuses in my lit degree) and games culture.

I used to feel as though I needed to get my gamer card punched and signed. Don’t gatekeep yourself. There’s enough gatekeeping in games—it needs to stop somewhere, it might as well be with you and me.

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You’d think that 30+ years of playing RPGs would have made me a more interesting person but you’d be wrong.

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