on Hero-U

Nov. 18th, 2012 10:16 pm
at_sign: The hero from the Quest for Glory series of computer games. (Default)
[personal profile] at_sign
I was maybe three years old when I became an adventure gamer. Sitting on the top of the bunk bed that then belonged to my half-brother, shaking with terror as he battled monsters and died horribly, laughing at jokes I was too young to understand. When we still owned a version of Windows you had to launch from DOS, I mastered the necessary commands to open the GUI and to launch Quest for Glory I (the VGA version) and explore the land of Spielburg. I have hazy memories: Dad telling me I had talked in my sleep about the game's monsters, crying with frustration because my eyepatch (treatment for the amblyopia that still makes me legally blind in one eye) kept me from reading the conversation options, how vibrant the colors were and how beautiful the soundtrack.

When I was maybe nine years old we bought the Quest for Glory, King's Quest and Space Quest collections – I had played or watched the playing of only one game in each series, I think, though sometimes I wonder if Quest for Glory II doesn't lurk just behind my conscious memory, when I was too young to remember it. At any rate, at nine I was still too easily spooked and frustrated to play the games, but that was all right because Mum loved them and got hopelessly sucked in. I remember spending hours on end playing the "safe" bits – I loved Awari, for instance – and hiding behind Mum while she wandered through the vampires' castle. (Confession: I ate garlic by the clove for a while to protect myself, made my little sister do the same, and still sleep with the sheets carefully held up to protect my throat. In my defense, Quest for Glory IV's soundtrack was really really good and the graphics were at the time stunningly realistic.) When Quest for Glory V came out, I remember how huge – a whole gigabyte of disk space needed, we only had one computer capable of installing it! – and realistic – 3D graphics! I had nightmares about the intro movie for months – and involved it was, and how much fun.

The effect those games had on my childhood was huge. I used to sneak around in a cape, carrying the wooden knives that had come with a toy stove I had, playing at Quest for Glory thief. (Don't worry, in real life I'm a paladin.) The first (god-awful, embarrassing to remember) fanfiction I ever published, when I was nine, was Quest for Glory fanfiction, which makes it technically my first internet fandom. I still sing the soundtracks at odd moments, especially when I'm sweeping or raking some place (curse you, Spielburg stableman).

Then we had the School for Heroes, and though meatspace academics and other stuff prevented me from going through it all the way, I loved that even more. Training to be a hero in real life was even better than saving the world in fantasy. And here were some of my childhood heroes working on something to make the world a better place, something that made me feel powerful and positive and like I could be a hero, and to make my little fannish heart even happier, they were interacting – Lori Ann Cole read a bit of my blog, once, and sent me a lovely note about it! I was active for a short time in the School, but it stayed with me.

That's why, while being uneasily aware that neither I nor my parents will be gainfully employed for at least, uh, six months, and that we haven't been so employed in much longer, I still scraped some money out of my tiny for-fun fund and donated to fund the Coles' new Kickstarter to make a new series of games for prospective heroes. Then I went and scraped up a third again as much to add in. Then today my little brother, on a) hearing the latest on how the funding is going and b) finding out that there's a Meep toy add-on (if you don't know the games, just know that Meeps are REALLY CUTE), asked me to tack on another bit from him. It's still not much, but I believe it will help to make the world a better place.
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