I’m A Nerd-Baller, And Proud Of It

I’m writing this post because I love StarCraft. I don’t allow myself more than a few hours a week of VR, but most of what I do consists of playing that one video game.

Most weeks of my life, I’m pretty busy. But I still get in a couple hours of laddering where I can. Sometimes I’ll block off a rainy Sunday afternoon and just play until my forearms can’t take it, no matter how many of Day[9]’s stretches I do.

I don’t own any other video games. I beat the original Halo and GTA:SA on my brother’s XBOX, many years ago. They were okay. I used to live with a guy who had one of the Call of Duty games on his PS3, and I’d let him beat my ass at that occasionally. But none of those games has ever had as much appeal to me as the Starcraft series.

I bought the original in the 8th grade, and Brood War shortly thereafter. I got pretty good. Maybe not XDs’Grrrr good, but I could hold my own in x17. I had a few friends who were into the game as well, but none seemed to “get it” like I did. I loved the game more than any of them, and kept playing on my own when they moved on to whatever was shiny and new.

I stopped playing Brood War in the summer of 2000. I was starting high school, and had decided that I didn’t want to be a “nerd” anymore. I was going to be the cool guy, the athlete. The type of person who doesn’t play geeky sci-fi RTS games. It was a decision made purely based on a desire to fit in, and I still remember the pain I felt when I snapped my Brood War CD in half – the only way I could force myself to stop playing the game I loved.

Fast forward to the end of high school, and I’d achieved every goal my unpopular, self-conscious middle-school self had ever dreamed of. Captain of the football team. Captain of the Rugby team. Popular. Dating the biggest-tittied girl in school.

I couldn’t have cared less about my dim memories of Starcraft, and the unhappy era of my life I associated it with. I became a huge dick, and spent four years mocking the people in my high school who did nerdy things like study for exams, play classical instruments, and worst of all, actually pick their hobbies based on what they enjoyed doing, rather than what they thought would be perceived as popular.

Sup brah? Yeah, that was me.

Fast forward another five years. I hadn’t played Starcraft for a decade. Thankfully, I was self-assured enough at this point in my life to not feel embarrassed for playing a video game when I was a kid. I would occasionally mention to friends, in a joking way, that I used to be a “near-professional Starcraft player” and that I had played against guys who were now considered famous. Sometimes I would tell girls I was trying to sleep with about my Starcraft days to, you know, show off my human side.

But I still didn’t care about the game, much less ever consider playing it. I was too busy living my life, finishing grad school, getting a job, and settling into a comfortable yuppie existence.

One day, a few months into said existence, I mentioned my semi-pro crafting days to a group of old and new friends. The response surprised me:

“No way! I loved that game!”

“Yeah man, me too.”

“Dude, we should play sometime! That’d be hilarious!”

I thought about it for a second and decided… fuck. Why NOT play some Starcraft? I half-seriously warned my friends that they would have no chance against me, and we all picked up $10 copies on ebay.

The first time we played – and keep in mind, these are true broskis I’m talking about – we had a blast. We played 1v1 tournaments, 2v2s, FFAs, and (at my challenge) a couple of 3v1s for hours into the night, barely drinking the beer we brought because we didn’t want to be off of our games.

I immediately loved it as much as I had when I was an awkward 13-year-old, praying my father wouldn’t wake to the dial-up screech from our basement because I had snuck down to play from midnight until 4am on a school night.

Only one of my friends was good enough to challenge me in a 1v1. After a few more LAN parties over the next month, he asked me:

“Yo, did you hear that there’s a Starcraft 2 coming out?”

I was giddy with excitement. I had never even considered the possibility of a sequel, and was content to think of Starcraft in purely nostalgic terms. My friends and I bought the game on release day, and I shelled out $800 for a new computer. Just to play Starcraft 2.

That was a little over a year ago. Today, I play ~5 hours a week, usually in one go. I play Terran in the North American diamond league, and usually find myself ranked in the single digits. I make my girlfriend watch casts during dinner. I have the WoL poster up in my bedroom.

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Any closet nerd-ballers among Freedom Twenty-Five’s regular readers? Now’s your chance to come clean.