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The Accidental Podcaster: I Am The Greatest Detective
Today, we learned I am the World's Greatest Detective.

In Borderlands, we've been playing through the various side quests and things and having an insane amount of fun with it, even though I'm pretty certain I have to be about the most frustrating co-player ever for someone who knows what they're doing (I still fall off of things a lot). Today, the web ninja seemed very excited about a particular side quest because he knows I like mysteries and puzzles, and this was supposed to be a classic, logical whodunnit. The premise is that there was a murder in Sanctuary, and there were four identical-looking suspects. The player (in this case, me) was supposed to ask questions of the townspeople to kind of piece together what happened (what kind of shots, did he get injured, etc) and rule out suspects until only one remains. What actually happened was that the foot I had tucked up underneath me in my chair was falling asleep, and when I shifted during the instructions, I accidentally hit the button to accuse one of the suspects as being the killer (whoops). As stated, we weren't even through the instructions yet - I technically hadn't even seen the body. Poor Hax was flabbergasted, but more so after it turned out the accused was in fact the killer! Clearly, this makes me the World's Greatest Detective. I'm so good, I didn't even need the facts of the case to nab my man.

The web ninja will dispute this, of course. In his view, accidentally nudging the keyboard in such a way as to make the game think you're issuing your verdict before it's even completed the instructions does not constitute detective work, even when it turns out the accidental accusation was, in fact, correct. He calls it "cheesing it." I say my skills of deduction are just so advanced I have no need of wasting time interviewing "witnesses" and gathering "evidence." I should also point out that this isn't an isolated incident, either; my playthrough of Portal contained some of the most amazing accidental bank shots that I'm fairly certain I gave Hax at least one headache trying to contemplate how I managed to keep doing it.

He claims I'm insanely lucky. I say nah -my world doesn't work the same way everyone else's does, why should my game physics?

But what's more amazing than my propensity for completely implausible game moves is just how much fun I'm having with the whole experience. If you'd have told me ten years ago I'd one day be spending my afternoons off playing first person shooters with someone on the other side of the ocean and giggling my head off while I did it, I'd have told you you were out of your mind. The Jen of September 2006 was fed up with games, and more with everyone and everything attached to them. She was tired of driving three hours every other weekend to see her boyfriend only to at best be put aside while he was engrossed single-player games or, at worst, left alone while he picked up last-minute shifts at the game store he worked for. The one time we did attempt co-op with a couple of his friends was such a miserable experience of being constantly told how bad I was at everything (never mind it was my first time playing) that I entertained myself by stealing the purple flying thing1 every chance I got and obliterating my own so-called teammate. As Varyar likes to point out, "friendly fire" often isn't.

But this...this experience is different.

I know I've written in the past about how my perception of gaming has changed dramatically since I came to RivalCast, but this week in particular drives home just how wide a shift was made. Ten years ago today (as of this publication date), I hated games so much that I finally ditched the guy I was dating and swore I never wanted to hear about the stupid things ever again.2 Ever. If I met someone and one of the first things mentioned when asking their interests was "I like to play video games," we were not going to become good friends. Such was my bitterness for the industry.

But it doesn't take a great detective to see where I was wrong in this. Just as the world itself is a vast and colorful place filled with both the wonderful and the cringe worthy, so to is the world of gaming - and the people who play them. To demonize the whole on the actions of the one is to perform a grave injustice not only to those who had no part in the offensive behavior, but also to myself in the exclusion of potentially rewarding and joyful relationships on no real basis aside from a rather weak argument of "I got hurt once and so I'm not letting anyone else in."

Becky Higgins does an amazing blog called The Good Life, which starts off each post with a statement on "Part of cultivating a good life is..." and then delving into some universal truth or another and how that directly impacts her work and relationships. I found her because I fell in love with her day planners earlier in the year (THANK GOD someone else appreciates modular organization and pretty things), and a lot of the early posts I read had to do with breaking out of one's comfort zone and growing by not only trying new things, but trying things anew - letting go of past hurts and biases to experience the world in a different way. I subscribed to a lot of that thought already, but what I didn't expect over the course of the year was to see how much my game experience parallelled exactly what she was talking about. It took a while, but I had to meet the right people to want to try again (and if you know anything about how I got to RCM in the first place, even THAT required quite a bit of coaxing).

And you know what?

I'm glad I was wrong. Because I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

1 To this day, I absolutely refuse to learn its real name, but it's the purple flying vehicle in the first Halo.
2 Sims didn't count because, as I was reminded continually, "Sims isn't real gaming."
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