Tuesday, August 12, 2008

See you in Beijing, everyone!

Picture 10.png
Originally uploaded by Mnemonix.
warning: this post contains geek-related TMI!

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!


starlajo said...

It's so funny that we've been freezing our southern hemisphere asses off playing the Lost Sport in winter, while you guys have been sweating at it. :)
I've loved playing and I'm really excited about the synchronised final next week!

It's not too much geek information! I love hearing that other women had similarly geeky childhoods. We got a Commodore 64 when I was about 7. I remember getting in trouble for breaking a joystick (same frenetic back-and-forth for running) while playing Decathlon, which was a budget, athletics-only version of Summer Games.

Michelle said...

We didn't have a Commodore 64, but a Colecovision and no sports games! I was forced to make up my own Olympic sporting events in the backyard using one plastic gold medal I had received from inside a cereal box. (Fruity Pebbles, I think). I did spend many a night decorating my virtual house in my Cabbage Patch kids game though!

Take lots of pictures!

Der Merzmensch said...

Oh, Lode Runner... It were great times. I can recall also about "Alley Cat" and "Eden Blues" :-)

And I also dreamed about a real virtual reality game, with various characters and houses you can enter. My dreams came true, and with ARGs I see - every dream comes one day true.

Anonymous said...

If only I hadn't let Loderunner, Wizardry and Ultima IV completely absorb my time on my Apple ][e during the mid 80s, I might had ventured outside now and then.

Alas, sport games were never a big thing on the ][e.

Jane said...

yay! i love the old school computer game fellowship here. thanks for telling me your stories everyone ^_^

jo, next time we'll discover a lost winter sport so you can play in the sunshine ^0^

Dav Flamerock said...

Wooo Beijing Olympics.

That's so funny to hear your first story to the Olympics was thanks to an Olympics game. What you did sounds like something I'd do... but I wasn't alive 20 years ago :P

Nevertheless, in 20 years I'll probably be telling a story like this, only instead of a computer game called "Summer Games", I'll be telling about how my first real interest in the Olympics was thanks to a game called "The Lost Ring" where I learned Esperanto, got to help decipher five big metal rings with a bunch of people on a wall-sized chat room, and won gold (or silver, if Wellington gets their way) in a lost Olympic Sport. See you on the nets, as I BEAT YOUR TEAM AT THE LOST SPORT :P

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness... I think I just saw you on the live telecast of the closing ceremony.

Anonymous said...

How cool is that..

You and Kiyash had 5 sec off fame, just saw you guys in the closing sermoni.


LaPingvino said...

You've got a great intuition. Jana actually works great as a Dutch name. I think from all variants of your name appearing in the Netherlands, it's the most native Dutch one (others would be Jeanette and Jeanine and such, which is French, and maybe also Jane, which is English).

Greetings from the Netherlands, thanks for such a great game involving Esperanto (sorry, I didn't get to do something in Hungary at IJK, was way to busy and had way to much fun there) and I hope you can make all your livegoals come true.