[pixelation | weekly gaming column every wednesday]
Diablo II turned ten yesterday. Wait, what. Really? Ten years. Jesus Christ. So that wretched, chill-inducing screeching I hear is in fact time being dragged down the corridor all too quickly. Why, it feels like just yesterday I was sitting in my room, covered in a pile of Pepsi cans, trying my god damn hardest to farm Mephisto for ill loots. Caloric intent high. Sleep minimal. Bone marrow? Yep. Laced to to the very core with caffeine.
Then is now.
Now is then.
Diablo II is one of those touchstone games that you can go back to. If you’ve played it. It’s the sort of game you can drunkenly bring up with a pack of friends who experienced it and just smash the red button labeled “Holy fuck, Nostalgic Trip” while buckling the fuck up. In almost no time, the people around you will be awash in a vernacular they don’t understand. “Motherfucking Stone of Jordans” and “Fucking Mephisto runs” and “Dude, dude, remember when the shit I traded for was actually duped, and when I logged in, it was gone?”
It’s deep, yo. Deep within my breastplate of rot. I can’t ever become jaded, Diablo-fueled nostalgia keeps me warm.
A decade ago. Fifty pounds heavier. One worn and gooey virginity card tucked into my pocket. God, was I going to hold that thing forever. Long shitty hair. But still super-pumped. But still super-enthused. About everything. A summer like this. Like any other summer. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The crack. Before World of Warcraft stole my life, there was Diablo II. It cracked my Ridiculous Gaming Sessions hymen. Gouged with a sharp-stick, thrust with ill-intent.
Oh for sure I had played games for ten hours in a row before Diablo II. Oh sure, I had cranked out entire games in a couple of sittings. But fucking Diablo II, yo. That shit wasn’t a game. It was crack. I didn’t just play it. I lived it. Senior year of high school was merely seven hours of diversion before I could go farm Act III for another five hours. The repetitious gameplay giving away to an insatiable need to have better shit. God damn Blizzard. A decade later and the same technique still drives people who play WoW.
The mentality is simple: I need better fake things, and because I need these fake things, I’m going to stay up real late and compulsively play and ruin my real life.
It’s amazing that I can look back on something that was so utterly destructive to my physical well-being with warm regards. I’d do it again. Fuck, I did do it again when World of Warcraft came out. And then its endless expansions. I tell myself I’m too old for late-night gaming sessions. For three hours of sleep before heading off to class. But what I’m really saying is, “I’m merely waiting for something to steal my soul again.”
Wavin’ right at you, Diablo II.
For every insane caloric binge I went on, there was the amazing wide-eyed conversations I’d be having with my friends at Wendy’s. Escaped from our personal dungeons for the moment, requiring a brief respite and the ability to puke up excitement to someone tangible. We’d go there, mashing our gullets with thick, greasy, delicious Dollar Menu items, and rush back.
Log back in.
Play until the morning hours.
I feel like such an old bastard reminiscing about Diablo II. I’ve already done it ad infinitum. I’m an old fogey, endlessly repeating the same story about the summer that the Devil stole from my friends and me. The hours he forced us to grind and toil in our dungeons. Like the dwarves, we dug too deep looking for loot. Oh foh sho, maybe we found dark circles under our eyes. Oh foh sho, maybe I didn’t find my cock again until I shed the fifty pounds I gained that year and a half. But it was the shit that you can’t forget. Don’t want to forget.
It’s a reminder that gaming is a lot of thing, can be a lot of things. Mindless violence. Gratuitous cleavage. Engaging narratives. But perhaps I like gaming the most when it executes on some social level. Those are my fuzziest memories. Hours of Mario Kart 64, near fist-fights over X-Men versus Street Fighter on my Saturn. And jesus christ, the incalculable amount of time I put into the thwarting of Mephisto, Diablo, and Baal with my friends.
Even the games whose narratives left me on my ass back in the day, Final Fantasy VII, Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, all these sons a bitches were shared with other people. Communal masturbation into one choice pit of interest.
I sit here typing on a computer, about a video game. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Logan action figures eyeball me like sons a bitches. My speakers pump lame geek music. Comic books rest to my right. All of this eerily familiar. I may be thinner, I may be older, and I may have tricked someone into taking my virginity, but other than that, it all still makes sense.
I stare at Diablo III promo screens and I feel the same burning. Now to return to a place which shall never exist again, lest I find some lame Island with a donkey wheel, but for hopefully another dose of the old magic. I’ve waited a fucking decade, Blizzard. Don’t you dickheads pull a Prequel on us, word?
A new Diablo I’m stoked for, a caffeine addiction, buried in geek lore and console wires.
Now is then.