When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to hunt and kill monsters. Such a desire led me through many interests over the years, as well as the inevitable realization that the only real monsters in the world were all human beings–something that Geralt of Rivia, the Witcher, also realizes in his own adventures. My first experience with Geralt came in the second Witcher video game. After that, I read The Last Wish (a collection of early short stories about the character), played the original Witcher video game, began working my way through Andrzej Sapkowsi’s other Witcher books, and then lost several months of my life to The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. I have no regrets.
The appeal of Geralt as a character is manifold. He is different; he is other. The mutations that allow him to hunt and fight monsters also make him a pariah, and Witchers are often seen as half-monsters themselves. His outsider status within his own story coupled with his deep, heartfelt distrust of authority have always been positives for me, and his near-inability to be impressed with anyone else effectively makes Geralt my spirit animal. He has little time for the artificial institutions of self-important humans, and is usually far more comfortable on the road or knocking a few back with a band of dwarves than within a city’s walls. I must say that I agree in total.
As I pointed out over the weekend, I have been playing Diablo III far, far too much over the past few days. It’s way too easy to sit down and get sucked into it for an afternoon if you have no other large pressing concerns, which actually plays into the Diablo series’s appeal to me. As you can guess from the title of the piece, playing the latest installment in the franchise has brought back some old memories of the previous two entries and caused me to think over what about them made them such great games for me. I often joke that I once lost an entire year of my life to the original Diablo, and that’s not much of an exaggeration. I’m not especially proud of it, nor am I truly ashamed of it. It is what it is, and there were very serious reasons for it.
I first got into Diablo back in 1999, when it had already been out for around four years. Pardon me a moment while the realization that that was 15 years ago washes over me. Anyway, 1999 was a complicated year for me–there was middle school and all its tiny hells, and that’s when my parents divorced. I know; boohoo, right? Diablo became an escape for me, as it did for many people during that time. I missed a lot of school, my grades came down quite a bit (which was unusual for me then), and I spent hours upon hours (day and night) living in the world of Sanctuary (if the name was even canon then) and fighting demons. It bears noting that I was never tempted to engage in Satanism or self-destructive behavior as a result of this game. On the contrary, Diablo made me even more curious about the Christianity I had been raised in and hadn’t yet felt alienated from.
But it was this curiosity, this simulated battle between pure good and pure evil, that captivated me. The idea that a world existed, even if it was tiny and only existed on my computer, where I had the power to save lives and affect the natural order of reality made me feel at peace with everything else that was going on around me. In Diablo, I could be an immensely strong warrior, an unparalleled sorcerer of frightening ability, or (when the mood struck) a sometimes scantily-clad female marksman. The character class selections were primitive at the time, yes, but I didn’t have to be me. I could create any back story I wanted for how my character ended up in the town of Tristram, following rumors that a great evil was stirring beneath its cathedral.
And I must re-iterate here, I played this game so very much. And I kept playing it until the second game came out later in 2000. Thankfully, I had moved on by that point to rededicating myself to my studies, reading books, and at least attempting a real-world social life, so I didn’t lose nearly as much time playing Diablo II as I did its predecessor. But there were many, many times in high school that were severe downers (most of us had such experiences), and my barbarian or druid character in Diablo II was always there, waiting for me to slip them back on like well-worn coats.
For me, role-playing games are what gaming is all about. I enjoy other sorts of games, to be sure, but RPGs are the core of my gaming career, if you will. I mentioned briefly in an earlier post that Final Fantasy X was a great help for me when I was younger, and I played it shortly after I got into the Diablo games. It fulfilled a similar need I felt. I don’t know if it’s sad or not, but I’ve always felt like I only find the true me when I’m interacting with a story full of heroes with very few limits placed upon them, whether in the games I play or the stories I read. And it’s no surprise that with the small struggles I’ve faced recently that I would find myself back in Diablo’s dungeons somehow.
Who feels me on this one? Let me know in the comments below.
Happy Saturday, everyone. I’ve been playing Diablo III a lot lately and it’s inspired a bit of nostalgia for the old games. Because of that, I thought this would be an appropriate choice for today’s music treat.
The Tristram theme was composed by Matt Uelmen and is the property of Blizzard Entertainment.
This is the original, high fantasy version of the ending theme from Dragon Age: Origins, composed by Inon Zur. I thought it appropriate given my own building excitement over the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition this fall. Enjoy, and may your Sunday be chill!
“I Am the One” from the Dragon Age: Origins soundtrack composed by Inon Zur.
My Editor-In-Chief has asked that I give you all a sort of “about me” blog entry. Well, here it goes.
I’m 26 years old and have lived in Indiana all my life. I have been married for nine months to my wonderful wife, who is pregnant with our first child! Like the EIC, I attended Wabash College. Unlike the EIC, I do not have a Bachelor of Arts in English. My degree is in German. I have never really had any idea what to do with it, as I was not an exceptional German student. None the less, I have managed to survive pretty well so far.
My nerd credentials are somewhat extensive. Star Wars was my first science fiction memory and love. I couldn’t have been much older than 8 when I first saw A New Hope, in its original release edit. We were over to dinner at a friend of my father’s house. I realize now he probably wanted as much to share Star Wars with my brother and me as to distract us so the adults could talk. But it was that day that sparked my love of space and all its magnificent glory…and sometimes danger.
Additionally, I grew to be quite the fan of Star Trek. This will undoubtedly draw some hissing breaths from some readers, but we are more common than you might think. My next major sci-fi love would not come for several years after that. During that in-between time, my videogame love expanded with such classics as Sonic the Hedgehog, Warcraft (I’m talking MS-DOS version), Rebel Assault II, and the like. As I got into middle school and high school, I discovered things like the realm of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Stargate SG-1, the Battlestar Galactica reboot, Shogun and Rome Total War.
There are still more nerd influences that have shaped me into my current form. Games like Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Dungeons & Dragons, television shows like Transformers: Beast Wars, Spiderman: The Animated Series, the animated X-Men series of the 90’s, Batman: The Animated Series, and other various superhero cartoons, as well as Doctor Who, Farscape, and Game of Thrones. As you can see, the list is quite extensive.
It is my hope that some, if not most, of this is something we have in common. I hope to expand on that commonality as my posting continues here on the Thoughts. For now, I would love to see comments that highlight some of your favorite nerd influences. Please comment with them below!
Playing Fallout: New Vegas has made an old lesson abundantly clear for me: those in power do not want to share that power. Even disparate factions who could benefit from working together (the NCR, Mr. House, the Brotherhood of Steel, the Followers of the Apocalypse, etc.) are all exceptionally unwilling to do so, even when the benefits to them are plain to see. And I don’t know if it’s simply a limitation of the programming of the game, but it really drives it home that you, as the main character, ultimately lack the ability to help the various factions of the Mojave Wasteland solve these problems.
The original StarCraft taught me a very valuable lesson: you must always build a Citadel of Adun (even though it only has one damned upgrade) before you can build a Templar Archives. This is always true; there is no getting around it. Sometimes you have to do small, seemingly unimportant things before you can reap the benefits of larger accomplishments.
Happy Sunday, everyone! Here’s a music video in keeping with my continuing Witcher 3 obsession. Does the awesome wash out the corny? Does the corny wash out the awesome? You all be the judges. Give it a view.
Good day, everyone! I thought a little game of “show me yours” might be a nice (and fun) aside at this point in the Batman column. Below is an image of a sizable portion of my Batman collection (please excuse the poor quality).
This is most of my Batman trade paperbacks and hardcovers, as well as my Arkham games, the first season of Batman: The Animated Series, and the Nolan trilogy. There are still a few pieces boxed up somewhere that I couldn’t include here, which explains their absence. I could never hope to include an image of every single issue of Batman and his various other comics series that I own, so I didn’t worry too much with those.
I wanted to provide a mixture of media here in order to state a point I honestly believe and have had arguments with fellow fans about. I…