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I Ran a Quake House

Article reprinted from The Toque

MY HOME-- One day I was standing amidst the clutter--candy-bar wrappers littered my cola-stained carpet, extension cords and ethernet cables wove through my living room like wild ivy, and my curtains were sewn shut to prevent even the narrowest of sunbeams from entering--when I realized what my home had become: a Quake house.

Quake addicts packed my living room, each only thinking about their next frag.
The neighbours had a right to be suspicious. They had seen the eerie flickering lights glowing within; they had watched the curious-looking young strangers coming and going at all hours of the day and night, carrying peculiar boxes, bags, and backpacks; they had heard the strange artificial sounds echoing from inside--noises they couldn't quite describe. They knew something was drawing them like Sim-ants to a Sim-picnic.

What they didn't realize though, was that I was trafficking not in crack or heroin, but something far worse...multiplayer gaming.

It began innocently enough. I would have a few friends over for an evening of free-for-all Doom--four guys linking their computers together, enabling them to shoot each other in a virtual 3D environment. Nobody got hurt, and only a few relationships got bruised...at first.

The Doom-fests grew into something more. Doom 2 came out and it fed our habits like so many Krispy-Kremes. It became more than a ritual, more than a habit; it became an addiction. At that time we hadn't seen or heard of the new game, "Quake", that was to become even more addictive, more absorbing than any other game before or after.

When Quake was finally released, my house was already set-up for the eventualities...LANs.

My first LAN was attended by some pretty serious gamers, guys who were already hard-core into shooting...first-person shooting. We played all night, and well into the next day, fed only by our hunger for the next virtual kill. Oh sure, we kept our bodies going on meat-lover's pizzas, Altoids, and discount colas, but it was Quake that was the nutrition that fed our minds. The Quake had hold of us like a grappling hook, and it wasn't going to let go.

It wasn't long before I was cleaning out the dining room to make room for more computers, and more "addicts." The power to my house was already by-passed to allow more "users."

Quake junkies, (most with eating disorders), consume several meat-lovers' pizzas in my kitchen.
When Quake II came out, my home was already a destination for serious gamers, those who couldn't say "no" to a match. A man named "Zoid" had created another reason for people to keep playing--Capture The Flag. Well, that Quake modification captured our souls, and more people began to show up to my home; none were ever turned away. When bodies played beyond their limits, there was always another ready to step in and play. As hardware improved, so did our abilities, and our desires. We craved faster computers, better connections, and higher scores.

By that time I was believing that my house was a church, a church of Quake, and all of my friends (and their friends) were its followers. I spread the gospel through e-mail, IRC, and a fan-based webpage. I had not realized that I was inviting depravity into the souls of all those who prayed, err played at my home. Mine was not a House of Quake, but rather, a Quake-house.

I knew it was already too late for some. They had quit jobs, dropped-out of schools, and left girlfriends to become gamers. The Quake-crack was too strong for them to resist. It was those I hurt the most when I finally turned my Quake server into an Unreal Tournament server. It hoped it would be like electronic methadone, something that would ween them off of Quake. I was wrong, and I will accept some responsibility for the hurt and the pain. I had to have my house back.

One bleak afternoon, I did something I don't regret. I severed my artery of life, my ADSL connection. It hit some like a railgun to the head. Others become more detached, and wandered about like a lonely player on a Daikatana server.

They're still playing out there somewhere...in somebody's basement or garage, or in the back of some computer shop on a warm summer's day. They continue to frag each other, triggering those neurons that give pleasure whenever an opponent is shotgunned.

Be well, lost gamers, one day the sun will shine through your curtains.

Copyright LamerKatz