Monday, November 21, 2005

Zen and the Art of Computer Purchasing

This week will mark the one-month point since I sold the trusty old laptop and moved into the brave new world of not having a computer. Short story long, I sold the old to finance the new, but the new got screwed by delivery dude, called the man about the warranty plan and returned the gear. Now I'm sitting here, sans computer, waiting for my credit card to be recharged.

But I'm not writing to complain about this whole mess -- I prefer to do that on the phone through relentless phone calls to unnamed persons with limited supplies of sympathy. Instead, I'm focusing on the state of being of not having a computer at my disposal. In some form or another, I've had access to the digital world since the early nineties, when my family proudly purchased our first pentium, Windows 3.5 and all it's iconic glory. Most everything I know about computers came from those days -- navigating dos, stacks of floppies, the beginning of the cd drive -- and basically all of this came from trying to play games.

There was a software shop on the west side of York called Megatronix -- a dungy little place lined with shareware and computer games. In its later years, the neon "n" bulb burned out, leaving "Megatro ix," which quickly became Megatro Nine -- in my opinion, a much coller name. Essentially, Megatro 9 offered shareware floppies for like a buck a piece -- this was before the internet revolution of the mid-90s and distribution of crappy mario brothers knock-offs was difficult. These were the days of Jazz Jackrabbit, Halloween Harry and, eventually, Doom. Not that we ever purchased the full game, should you think otherwise.

The usual routine was bringing the disc home, attempting to install the game, having difficulty finding the exec directory, typing dir/p and all that good stuff.

As a young man I was entranced by this technology -- and the large-production team software development world was in its infancy, back when adventure games were still marketable, if not profitable. Lucasarts had a hold over me with a Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, Full Throttle -- all the quirky titles that just seemed to drip creativity. Not to mentioned they almost came from the same place as Star Wars, so doubleplusgood on that one.

But now with no computer to speak of, I'm past the cold-turkey, sweating at night stage on on to acceptance. Do I really need a computer? Do I really need videogames? What could I be accomplishing if I kicked these habits for good?

Laurie's in favor of this outcome, although I'm skeptical...the call of relaxing with a few rounds of Madden will always remain strong, no matter how long I've kicked the habit. All this time I assumed video games would eventually just get too complicated for me -- that's what happened to my dad. But if you think about it, how much more complicated can they get? The new systems will cost more than $400 bucks, controllers have 12 buttons and the games are almost $60 bucks new. I mean, I'm not scraping together anymore, but like hell I can afford that sort of hobby.

Therefore, this might be the end of an era. The kid who read the Nintendo Super Mario 3 Strategy Guide in bed and on the toilet is slowly fading into the videogame sunset. Time to holster the zapper, hang up the powergloves and walk that long walk into reality.


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