[for reference: betaveros’ recent post on Gaming, my post M(in)e(sweeper) from two and a half years ago, my poem Could’ve, from two years ago, and a page where I keep data on my high scores]
(I originally intended for this to be just one post, but it turns out I’m writing a whole lot more than I was expecting, and am already at 2400 words so far, and my hands are getting tired and bored. So yes, this will come in two parts.)
Contents of Part I:
1. Before Internet Access
2. Windows XP Games
3. Shortly After Internet Access
[Deferred to Part II:
5. AoPS, and Forum Games
6. Minesweeper, and the Seeking of Affirmation
8. Dorm Life at MIT
I have decided to, like betaveros, write a blog post reflecting on my gaming history. I will annotate this history with my gaming situation in childhood, why gaming has become an important part of my identity, and the things that make me feel that “gamer” is a weird term for me and that I’m too far from the gaming mainstream to feel normal calling myself a gamer. My post on minesweeper linked above discussed the second item in this list a fair amount, but I will talk about it again here within a larger context.
1. Before Internet Access
My parents first allowed me to use a computer at home in second grade. They didn’t allow me to use the internet until two and a half years later, though, so until then whatever gaming I partook in was literally the Windows XP games of FreeCell, Hearts, Minesweeper, Pinball, Solitaire, and Spider Solitaire. My parents also capped my computer usage for playing games at 30 minutes, and took away time from that based on “bad behavior”. As I grew older, they would encroach further and further into my game-playing allowance, eventually pushing me to the decision it was more worth it to play games when they weren’t watching.
2. Windows XP Games
I very quickly found myself lacking in interest in FreeCell and Solitaire, mostly because they were too hard. They were, however, games that I actually had explained to me by a friend, and back then, my reading comprehension skills were abysmal enough to pretty much not understand the help pages for Hearts and Minesweeper substantially enough that I did not understand basic mechanics of the game. (My manual-reading skills are still not very good. I still suck at finding the information I want out of manuals, for instance, documentation for coding.) Spider solitaire I understood though. I played that game when I felt like not using my brain whatsoever, as (at least in easy mode) it was easy.
Because of the above, I learned how the rules of Hearts and Minesweeper worked by trial-and-error.
After I noticed the scoreboard indicating I was Last Place when I had the highest score, for instance, and seeing some more results, I concluded Hearts was a game where you wanted as low of a score as possible. It took me a while, though, to realize that the Queen of Spades was something that mattered, after which it dawned on me what the cards displayed next to each playing at the end of a round meant. I found Hearts a fascinating game and have somewhat delighted in playing the game both with humans and with computers for quite a while. Eventually, I achieved a final score of 0 for an entire game of Hearts in XP, and several years later achieved the like for Vista Hearts (the Vista AIs are generally fairly better than the XP AIs, but are more delirious of moon-shooting attempts), and stopped playing Hearts on a computer and rather only with humans.
Minesweeper was a substantially longer experience in learning by trial-and-error. I picked up clues like that 1s in the corner seemed to go with mines at the corner inside the 1, and that 3s in a row at the side of an opening indicated mines in a row next to them. It really took a startlingly large number of clues and working with them before I finally realized what the numbers mean. By the time I actually learned the rules of minesweeper and understood the rules in the manual, I have already won a Beginner game purely out of attempting to extrapolate from pattern matching.
Neither Hearts nor Minesweeper, though, were games I played nearly as much as 3D Cadet Pinball, the pinball game included with Windows XP. It was a game with substantial possibilities that was very conducive to trial-and-error learning. One tries to keep the ball up, and one uses the buttons for the flippers to work towards that. Most things you quickly learn from seeing what pops up on the dashboard, and you decide what things are the things you want. I really liked 3D Cadet Pinball’s mission structure; thought it was excellently designed. I never made it past Lieutenant rank, though, so I resorted to cheat codes that I learned about to check out what the missions in higher ranks were like (this was after my parents allowed me internet access, but before I realized that internet guides were a thing). I also did not realize until it was pointed out to me that in higher ranks completing corresponding-level missions earns more mission lights. (I never realized that after one got promoted from Cadet to Ensign, the number of lights the player got for completing a mission started being 7 instead of 6 (and for the special mission, 10 instead of 9). Of course, since the number of lights one needs to get promoted is 18, there is no situation where replacing 6 lights with 7 and replacing 9 lights with 10 matters. If I ever made it to Captain rank, when the 7 once again got upped to 8 and the 10 got upped to 11, I may have noticed once I realized that I don’t think I did enough for a promotion (but also because 8 is 25% off from 6 and is probably a difference I would’ve noticed just by itself).)
Continue reading “(Ga)me(r): Part I”