Friday, May 9, 2008

magical memories - Risk all night long

Some people are computer geeks. Some people are wannabe computer geeks. And some people are inadvertent computer geek groupies. I think I'm somewhere on the spectrum between wannabe and inadvertent groupie, and I rather like being there. I don't want to be nor do I think I could actually be a real computer geek, and I don't think I purposely make an effort to be a groupie - it just ends up happening that way a lot.

When I was in high school, I dabbled a little with computers, but that was the monster machine where I learned Fortran (at least I think it was Fortran) with those computer cards that were used back in the old days. Can I tell you how much I *hated* it when the machine would screw the cards up and mix up their order, and then you'd have to sit there for hours sorting them out? Computer cards blow.

When I got to college, I then learned what *real* computers could do. For reasons that I can't remember now, I ended up joining the computer science club, but it wasn't a real club. I can't even remember if we did anything real, other than having the occasional meeting for more reasons I can't remember. There was an office that belonged to the club where you could use a computer or two and have access to some files of some sort or something like that, and to keep good standing in the club, you had to volunteer to staff the room (which really just meant being there so the door would be open, but it was the rare occasion when anyone not already in the club and therefore already with ready access came in) an hour every other week or something like that. The main reason I joined the club was because if you were part of the club, you got an account on one of the school computers. The only way you could really get an account at the time was if you were actually taking a computer class, so this was a good way of getting an account without the hassle of actually having to take a class.

Because of being in the CS club, I ended up meeting lots of people who were actually computer geeks, and it came in quite handy. They had access to all kinds of stuff, and if you were in with them, they were pretty generous about sharing. I was talking to one of the guys at one point after our college had gotten some spiffy new SUN computers, and I happened to mention that I didn't have any access to them because I only had the CS account, which couldn't be used to log into the SUNs. He was appalled that I didn't already have access to the "special accounts", so he immediately proceeded to tell me about them. Since he wasn't just a geek and a student but also had actual administrator access to the SUNs, he and some other people had created a generic login that they could pass around, and once you were logged in under the generic name, you could then change your actual name to whatever regular login name you used, so the original generic login name wasn't just logged in 400 times, but instead, you could see the list of individual people logged into the entire set of SUNs. It was pretty cool to be able to have access to the SUNs that way, and I sort of got the impression that because the computer science arena was so male-dominated, being female and at least semi-interested in and fractionally knowledgeable about computers made you automatically accepted and welcomed into that group.

Well, there was one night where the geeks decided to hold a Risk marathon, which I suppose isn't too surprising. I can't remember if the CS club I was in sponsored it or if I just knew about it because of geek friends, but while I had no intention of playing, I thought it sounded like fun, so I decided to go. I remember that it started later in the evening, maybe around 9pm or so, and it was held in one of the classrooms on campus. I had a couple friends who were also there, and there were several other people that I was acquainted with, and then a roomful of total strangers, yes, most of whom were male.

I think one of my friends was playing in a game, so I watched that game for the duration, and then when that was done, I would just randomly watch other games. There was one that was particularly fun because one guy was down to just a handful of men, and it looked like he was about to get wiped out, but amazingly enough, he managed to fight his way back and ended up winning the game. That was fun.

Somewhere in the middle there, people decided they were hungry, so they took up a collection to order pizza. Once the pizza got there, we all ate and chatted (ok, I probably ate and listened), and then as people were finishing up, they were going back to playing. And I didn't even realize what I was doing until someone I knew pointed it out to me by asking what I was doing. Everyone had been using paper plates to eat pizza, and most of them had just put the plates down on the table once they were done and wandered off to more games. Without even thinking about it or even being aware of what I was doing, I was gathering up the plates to throw them away and to tidy up. Now, I will tell you that I'm not a great housekeeper, and I'm not necessarily very neat, but I guess in that environment, with that many guys, the couple of female genes that I possess (those of you who know me know what that means - those of you who don't probably think I'm a trannie or something) actually kicked into gear on instinct. Anyway, once it was pointed out to me what I was doing, I stopped.

The marathon was supposed to go all night, I think, but I didn't stay that long. I think I left around 2am or something like that.

I initially had some misgivings about going, for a number of reasons, but I'm glad I did, because I did have a really fun time, even though I never ended up playing myself.

Since then, I've had other nights of playing Risk for hours on end. A friend of mine used to host a weekend-long party over Thanksgiving, and I'd drop in for parts of it. Risk was one of the popular games that people played, and sometimes I watched, and sometimes I played. There was one night when the two people left in the game were me and a female friend, and we were pretty much dead even on the board. We knew that if we fought it out, it would take several more hours to finish the game, and we weren't really interested. She loved ice skating and I owned Canada, and I love London and she owned Europe, so we made a treaty - she could come to Canada any time she wanted to ice skate, and I could go to London any time I wanted to shop at Harrods. Done, game over.

They started another game after that, and I left to go home since it was something like 3am. When I returned later in the morning the next day, they were still playing, though I think they were at least on a different game.

I don't have too many occasions to play Risk anymore because it *is* such a time-consuming game, but I'll never forget the first Risk marathon I went to.


Sherry said...

I was just thinking today that one of the ideas for the marg party is`some version of`Risk that I was suppposed to make up. Was it that game? Or Monopoly? I don't remember.

Cindy said...

I think it was Risk. Instead of continents, lands at DL?

Sherry said...

That's right! I need to actually see a Risk game, though. Aside from just the box.

Cindy said...

I'll try to remember to give you one of our Risk games at some point for reference.