September 16, 2021

2 of 301: Circa 2006

By Daniel

Before we begin, a digression. (Normally you’ve got to actually start a conversation before you can digress, but I’m built different.)

It’s really strange having not really put any attention to this site for years at a time, that I could write a piece, come back in a week to write the next one, and suddenly I find that pieces of the past have come back to visit.

I don’t mean to shine a spotlight on people directly, but it’s just too bizarre not to discuss. Alright, let’s talk about 2008 in gaming. Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Persona 4 (and Persona 3 FES), Far Cry 2, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Left 4 Dead, GTA IV, Spore…some of those are still in contention for some people’s Mt. Rushmore of video games. Graphics made a big leap over 2007, capped with GTA IV.

What was I up to in 2008?

This shit right here.

Guys, listen. This game was old then. Subspace Continuum was released closer to the release of the Atari 2600 than today. But it was rewarding, infuriating and overall captivating for me in a way that few games have ever managed. Look closely at that screenshot if you will, at the list of players in the upper left, and the bottom-most one, white_0men. He’s why I stopped playing.

You see, white_0men was 27 and a pivotal figure in the Realistic Subspace Hockey League in 2010 when he was murdered, execution-style, at his job at a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. His murderers were convicted and received life without parole. He is eulogized as an easter egg in one of the websites I manage to this day, one of a depressingly large group of folks I knew through video games that are no longer around that have the same treatment so as to keep their names alive. The RSHL have also eulogized him.

What else was I up to around that time? Well, you can see that by looking through the back archives of this very site. I was deep into the fragrance industry at this point. By late 2008 I was probably towards the apex of my time as a reviewer, sometime columnist, and resource in the fragrance industry, and the nadir of my personal life.

Seeing both of those converge in the comments section of a journal entry related to neither is profoundly jarring.

Anyway, sorry, I needed to get that off my chest.

Describe the day you graduated high school.

You’re told as a kid that there are some days you’ll just remember forever; your first kiss, your first date, the day you first drive, and the day you graduate high school are all common ones. Surprisingly that’s pretty accurate. I certainly don’t remember all of it, and some of it is blurred in ways that make me know my mind is trying to reconstitute pieces of it from other bits and pieces of memories, but I certainly remember more of it than many other days around that timeframe.

The big thing was that we couldn’t leave. This was May 19th, 2006. Apparently as a safety maneuver, they told the kids that they would be staying in the school overnight after graduation, or you would not receive your diploma. I get it now as a way to reduce underage drinking and driving, but boy did it rub me the wrong way at the time. “I’m an adult, they can’t keep me here” and all that stuff.

I don’t remember much of the day itself, or the ceremony, but bits and pieces of the evening jump out pretty starkly. At this point I’d gotten pretty much the entire senior class (not difficult when the graduating class is less than 70 kids) hooked on playing Mafia, and we killed a good number of hours doing that, mostly with me moderating it. I remember quite a lot of Halo being played, and I played a fair amount of StepMania (not a lot of folks had laptops at this point, so that was just my own solo time.) I remember being excited about getting the hell out of dodge, really. I’d managed to get into Louisville, albeit on a limited course schedule (which I’m sure I’ll talk about at length in further weeks), I’d been studying C knowing that it was part of the first actual programming class I’d get to take, CECS 130. Orientation was only about six weeks out from graduation day, and I believe I was feeling that pressure a little bit.

I was sad to be over with tennis season, even more sad that I likely wouldn’t see a couple of the teachers that had consistently had my back again. A lot of those experiences you simply won’t get again because you’re simply not a part of that institution any more. Not to make it all rainbows and light, I was positively thrilled to get the hell away from the more offensive of my classmates, which were honestly pretty numerous.

I remember being so incredibly excited to be going to Louisville and getting to know some folks from KYDDR that I’d only ever interacted with on a forum or a one-time trip to Louisville with Graham back in the day to a PIU tournament. That was keeping me going for sure.

Looking back, I had a laughable amount of confidence that I knew what was in store for me. I didn’t have a clue, man. I’d been able to put in a shockingly low effort in high school and not just get by, but even end up above the curve. I had no real organization system, I did some of the things some of the times, and it still worked out fine.

Well, like I said, we’ll talk about that a bunch I’m sure.

We played a lot of games, we drank a lot of caffeine and ate a lot of pizza, we wandered the school, in its first year after a major renovation. I remember we were each given a lei, and I believe I hung mine from my rear-view for quite a long time after.

It’s funny, overall this question isn’t doing much for me. Maybe this entry won’t do much for you, and you’ll be left a little unimpressed, like I was.