Tuesday, August 12, 2008
See you in Beijing, everyone!
3:30 AM this Saturday, Kiyash and I are off to Beijing for the second half of the Summer 2008 Olympics, where we’ll be overseeing a week of The Lost Ring game production all over the city, including in public parks, on the Olympic Green, and some surprise Olympic venues.
I’ll post from Beijing on this blog as often as possible, or at least on Twitter, to share stories from trying to run an alternate reality game on the ground at the Olympics!
Before I go, I wanted to reminisce a bit.... forgive me if this story borders on Too Much Geek Information. ^_^
My first Olympic gaming experience came in 1988. That was the summer we got our first home computer – it was a Commodore 64, and I was 10 years old. I spent A LOT of time playing games on it.
We had bought the computer used, and it came with three games that delighted me to no end: Castle Wolfenstein (the original! which always scared the bejeezus out of me when I played it, all those soldiers shouting “atchung!!!” and having to picking loot off of dead bodies!!) , Lode Runner (the game I was most devoted to, and which I would dream about at night and often solve puzzles of in my sleep), and most importantly: Summer Games (in which you could toggle your joystick frenetically to compete in events like pole vaulting, gymnastics vaulting, swimming, and running around a track).
During the real Olympic games that 1988 summer, I held my own Summer Games for myself on my Commodore 64. I would start up the computer game and enter 8 players. They were all made up versions of myself from different countries – you could play with 8 at a time -- "Jane" from USA, “Juana” from Mexico, “Janelle” from France, “Jana” from the Netherlands (I don’t know why I thought that was a Dutch name), “Enaja” from Australia (Jane backwards, plus an extra “a” because it sounded prettier, ha ha thought my clever 10 year old self), etc. I would run every Summer Games event as all of my different Olympic Janes. The game was asynchronous multiplayer, rather than synchronous multiplayer, so I could try to do equal justice to each avatar. I would keep track of medals in my pastel pink Cool Shades notebook, and then after all the avatars ran every event, I would see which country had won the most. I was extremely methodical about this. And this would take pretty much an entire day. And THEN I would start over, and run the “simulated Jane Olympics” again, doing exactly the same thing with 8 more international Janes and see how THAT medal count went. And on and on and on. The main difference was you would hear different midi-versions of the countries' anthems depending on who medaled. (To this day, this is why I recognize some national anthems.) I would occasionally call my twin sister, who was probably doing cooler things like learning the choreography to Janet Jackson videos, into the computer room to see the Awesome Results.
Looking back, this story is a clear sign of the fact that I was BORN a big game geek. I have to say, though, in 1988, I SWEAR TO YOU this was seriously High Fun.
So now, TWENTY YEARS LATER (omg), instead of playing pixilated, simulated Olympic games, I’ve spent the summer training in real (lost) Olympic sport, running around and REALLY sweating with lots of other people. I’m actually in amazing shape right now, the best I’ve been in years, because pretty much every day I’ve been working out for an hour, running or whatever, and hearing in my head “You are a lost sport Olympian! GO! GO! GO!”
And now I’m going to Beijing to synchronize real Olympic running and sweating on every continent for the grand finale. Lots of real running and real sweating all over the world, thanks to a computer game!
Can I tell you how happy that makes me? Computer gaming + live sports = My Best Summer Ever. Thank you to everyone who has run and sweat and trained with me this summer. It has been amazing fun 4 real!