Ok. So it started innocently enough. I was really just trying to impress the Best Buy guy in the video game department. I mean that was it. Really.
Alright, so he did ask "Are you in the right place? The cell phones are down the next aisle right next to the information counter…."
I take a step back. Puff up my chest and state in a very determined voice. "Yes I AM in the right place. I was thinking about playing online…."
"You're that good?"
"You don't look like a gamer…"
Ah ha! That's why I am doing what I am doing. Fishing for a complement from a slightly nerdy Best Buy employee. So, I should be done with it, right? I got what I came for. I mean, I really don't have to go online to play, right?
Um. Yeah. This is me we are talking about.
So I grab my Sony PlayStation II headset, a couple of Ethernet cords, a router and firewall from the slightly nerdy Best Buy employee. For I was determined! Yes. Determined. Of what, not entirely sure, but I felt determined.
Was it to prove manhood wrong and break into the formerly male dominated world of video games? Was it to show up the Best Buy Guy?
Or was it that PSP commercial with everyone playing online (including some chic) and they looked like they were having fun, and there was cool music playing in the background? Hmmm. That might be it.
In any case, I was determined. I shall strike paralysis into all those who will play online games against me. They will all fear me and I will be known as the best player in the world!!
How does one even play online? And what the heck is a router? What am I even routing? As the adrenaline of showing up a nerd wore off, I am stuck with the realization that I have no idea why I did what I did.
I mean, sure, I'm really, really good at video games, but am I ready to play online? What will I say? What will I do? What if they all laugh at me, all those people in "online gaming land?"
I mean I have a reputation to uphold. My reputation as [ahem] "The best Star Wars Battlefront* player among my friends."
(*Note - Star Wars Battlefront is a Playstation 2 video game. And no, I have no idea anything about Star Wars. Not even the vehicle thing that looks like a chicken that the storm trooper guys drive.)
Yes. Bragging rights are on the line. Hands shaking, I nervously plug in the Ethernet cord and am instantly hooked up to the Internet through my Playstation 2 console.
I find myself at this green and black website with information on how to get online. Now I have to register my Playstation and pick a screen name.
Oh great. Um….screen name? What the heck do I need a screen name for? It's not like I need to create an alternate identity so my spouse and family don't know that I met some lover on the internet. And I don't even have a spouse or a family. I shouldn't have to pick a screen name, right?
I'm exempt because…well, I should just be exempt from the whole screen name thing. I click on the "enter" link without putting in a name and the screen pops back with a "need to pick screen name" warning.
Great. Fine. I will pick a darn screen name.
There is a screen name "helper" link; if I just click "pick one" it will give me a random name. "Beef Party Hunter" Ha. No.
"Retile Killing Spree." "Demon Slayer Marksmen." "Bounty Hunter 7788933." (There are 7788932 other "bounty hunters??!!) Ok. This is not working. I am going to have to choose my own.
Yes. All shall soon fear the screen name……"Elizabeth!"
I click enter. The green and black screen changes into list of what looks like "rooms"
What? I have to choose a game room? There are exactly 120 different Star Wars Battlefront rooms. There are that many people playing this game?
After scrolling up and down a few hundred times, waiting for a room to appeal to me or one that doesn't have some sort of juvenile quip in its title, like the "Enter_&_DIE" room, blah, blah, blah, I find one. "PR_Recruiting."
That sounds like a good room. Maybe that's were all the Public Relations people go and other business people types. I mean, it's "recruiting." That deals with human resources people. PR stands for Public Relations, right?
Um. Wrong. (But I am ahead of myself here…)
So I am playing. Not really talking, since I am scared to death. I don't like talking to people I can't see. Something about the Sicilian in me. Besides, what if I say something stupid and they all laugh?
"Elizabeth, you're like a girl right?" states a prepubescent voice in my headset. Huh? Is this kid talking to me? He doesn't sound like a business professional. He sounds, well, he sounds like a 10 year old.
"Um, yeah. I'm a girl."
"Well, you are really good."
"Hey, thanks kid." Kid? What was I thinking?
"Well, PR_Starfox and I want you to join our clan. Since, you know, you are kinda good and a girl. We like girls."
"Clan. Wait here, I'll get Starfox"
"Who…? Wait…. What?"
"Hey, Elizabeth, Starfox here." Finally a deep voice. Ok, this isn't so bad. I mean, they think I'm good!
"So I have been watching you play and I am offering you an invitation to our clan. It's very selective. Wait, how old are you?"
"Wow. You sound young. I thought you were a teenager. I'm 15, people think I sound like I'm 30, but nope, just 15. I once called this girl to ask her out, and her dad didn't believe I was in the same grade as her. It was funny!
She never actually went out with me though. Anyway, I run the PR clan. So are you interested? Can I give you our website? You can register and I will email you with the next training sessions--"
"Wait." I interrupt. "I can't join a clan. I mean, I'm not shaving my head. Or burning crosses. And I like black people!"
……[insert awkward pause here] ………
"We're not that kind of clan."
"Oh…" I say with a nervous laugh.
"We are just a bunch of people that like star wars and like to play the Battlefront game."
"Ah. I see…."
"Here let me give you the website so you can look around. We would love it if you would register, no biggie though. Just if you are interested."
From that point on, whether it was because of embarrassment or what, I joined the clan. Well, after I convinced myself that these people need someone like me. I mean, I'm normal. For the most part.
I can help them be more normal. And after, of course, a few days of trying to actually find their website. I seemed to repeatedly misspell "clan."
But as a new member to some star wars online clan all seemed well, with the exception of everyone asking for pictures of me. Yeah. Fat chance, people.
Hey, I just go an email from this guy named "Darkhorse" saying that I don't have to post pictures if I don't want to. Well, that was nice of him.
Maybe I will hop on AOL Instant Messenger and tell him "thank you." But that's another story entirely...
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