Wihelm: Continuity One Two Three Abort Reminiscence!
Computer: Code invalid. Abort failed
Computer: Nostalgia field engaged
Computer: memory distortion set to random
So here we go.
Way back when I was a kid, back in a time between kindergarten and about third or fourth grade we, as kids, seemed to go through a stage where we ceased just playing with things and spent our recess and lunch hours playing at being things.
Looking back, it was very much a reflection of what was influencing us as kids… which is to say we played at things we saw on television.
Unlike my father in his day, we rarely ever played at being soldiers, at least at school. He grew up in the shadow of WWII, which was viewed as a “good thing.” For us, the Vietnam was on the news every night and it was a “bad thing.” Many of our teachers actively discouraged anything that smacked of the military.
So we had to find other ways to dress up our desire to run around and pretend to shoot each other.
Cops and robbers was popular, primarily because it required little in the way of window dressing. Some people were cops, some people were robbers, cops chased the robbers around, we had shoot outs, and argued about who shot whom first. Generally the cops lost. Authority figures were on the out, lawlessness reigned. It was quite the exaggerated reflection of the country beyond the school yard.
We also played Planet of the Apes quite a bit. This was not as popular because you had to conform at least minimally to the story line. But it was an outlet for gun play and we did not care about the symbolism represented by the failure of man and the ascension of the apes. We just wanted to pretend to shoot at each other. Apes tended to lose and man usually reasserted his primacy. In some way this probably predicted the election of Ronald Reagan.
And then, once in a while, we would play Star Trek.
Star Trek was different. Not as many people would play, but girls would join in. They wouldn’t play cops and robbers or Planet of the Apes, but a few would tag along for Star Trek. So I knew there was something special going on, since the last time we played pretend with the girls was back before we decided playing house was for sissies.
And while we would cut to space battles and shooting phasers pretty quickly, the whole thing was different. We would start out behind the backstop standing around as arrayed like the bridge crew. We would crash around as the ship went into battle, then beam down to a planet or over to another ship looking for trouble. Prime directive? Our phasers were never set to “stun.”
But unlike the other two things we played, nobody was playing the bad guys. This was a PvE roleplaying affair. Nobody played a Klingon or a Romulan, they were all pretend. When we shot, there was no follow on argument about who shot whom to break the flow of the story.
I should have written down the names of those who joined up on the bridge for these occasional play sessions, these pre-pubescent Trekkies, just to see who still feels the pull of that show to this day.
I don’t need to say that Star Trek was huge and had a lot of influence. I think the fact that I can write about Star Trek without giving much in the way of context says enough.
But to be there, in the early 1970s, was to feel the influence when it was still young and fresh and still fit into its uniform and did not require a hair piece. The original series was in syndicated reruns constantly throughout that decade. (Though at one point, every time I turned on the TV they seemed to be playing “And the Children Shall Lead,” an episode I grew to loathe.)
Star Trek lived on through some really bad episodes in the third season (see above), through cancellation, through an animated series, through some really weak movies and bad uniform choices, through a series of spin-offs (each with its own major flaws) and unlikely aliens, and through wave after wave of truly bad video games (with a rare gem now and again) to still exert influence today.
And I have pretty much eaten it up through most of its history. I have watched all the shows, seen all the movies in the theater, read a disturbing number of the books, played the table top games, the role playing games, the MUDs, and a good portion of the computer games. And after all of that, I still feel a great affinity for the universe of Star Trek.
Which is a blessing and a curse.
Star Trek again looms on the horizon for me. Not a new TV series or a movie to stress my faith more than any midichlorian ever could. No, it is a new computer game, a game with a lure unlike most that have come before it.
A massively multiplayer version of the Star Trek universe.
Something within me sings with joy at the thought of a Star Trek MMO. This is exactly what we were trying to achieve standing in a semi-circle out on the edge of the field at school way back in the day.
But part of me wants to look away. That part shudders with the fear brought on by the dozens of mediocre TV episodes and poorly thought out games that came before.
According to the press release, Star Trek Online will be here soon.
ATARI TO SHIP STAR TREK ONLINE ON FEBRUARY 2, 2010
Star Trek Online Offers Fans and Gamers Opportunity to Experience Beloved Star Trek Universe through Space and Ground Gameplay
New York, NY (November 9, 2009) – Atari, Inc., one of the world’s most recognized videogame publishers, and Cryptic Studios™, creators of the acclaimed Champions Online, City of Heroes and City of Villains, announced today the highly anticipated Star Trek Online for PC is set to release on February 2, 2010 in North America and February 5, 2010 across Europe and Australia. This first-of-a-kind massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) will offer space and ground gameplay to fans and players.
“Star Trek Online is poised to become the ultimate Star Trek gaming experience,” said Jim Wilson, CEO of Atari, Inc. “Throughout the last four decades, Star Trek has been a mainstay in pop culture, influencing legions of fans through television, film, and more. Star Trek Online opens a whole new chapter and expands upon this incredible universe in 2010.”
Taking place in the year 2409, continuing the story of the latest film installment, Star Trek Online boasts extraordinary features and lets fans both new and old experience unparalleled adventures. Players will have the opportunity to become a high ranking Starfleet officer and will participate in missions that will take them into the depths of space, across exotic planets and even inside other starships. Star Trek Online offers total customization, where every ship players command can be customized, from color to construction. Additionally, anyone can create their own species in Star Trek Online, as well as customize the look of their avatar’s uniform.
For more information, please visit: www.startrekonline.com
February 2nd is sooner than I would have thought possible, which does not help me deal with the dread.
In an office just miles from where we played Star Trek as kids… and even closer to where I live today… a team at Cryptic Studios is preparing Star Trek Online.
Of course, just a couple of years back, the same game (or not the same game) was being developed by a team at Perpetual Entertainment just an hours drive from my home before it was cancelled, so salt is being consumed in quantities large enough to get a caution from my doctor when it comes to the eventual availability of the game.
Something about all of this playing out within proximity of my home makes it all the more compelling for no logical reason.
Not that it matters. Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.
I do not have much in the way of a choice when it comes to this. I’ll be there on day one. If they offer a lifetime subscription, I’ll buy it. A collectors edition? Let me get out my credit card. Star Trek alien prostetics I can wear whilst I play? Sign me up.
So you know where I will be on February 2nd. Prepared for disappointment but still full of hope.
Unless, of course, the whole thing gets delayed.
Nah… that never happens!