When a non-gamer views my Quake tattoo for the first time, their response is usually along the lines of: “Oh! Hey, that’s great! Wait, err… it’s a tattoo ofwhat?”And then they walk away with a confused distant smile rapidly fading off their stunned face.
Some of the responses from fellow PC gamers have been similar. I guess it’s nothing to be shocked about. After all, a Harley-Davidson tattoo, to me, is really kind of a head-scratcher. And yet to some, that Harley-Davidson ink might mean the world on a golden plate. This is why I think my astute choice to have someone poke a rather painful needle covered in hot black ink into my virgin shoulder’s flesh bears some explanation.
It was no easy decision, lemme tell ya. I pondered the idea of a tattoo for something along the lines of a decade. I teetered back and forth like a bobbing ship upon troubled waters between various symbols and icons. It wasn’t until late in my glacial thought processes that I considered a gaming tag. And even when I did, my mind bounced back and forth contemplating the various myriad options available. I finally reeled in my listing imagination and selected two venerable possibilities: the GDI Eagle, fromCommand & Conquer, and the monolithic Quake I logo. Both enjoyed a rather geeky lasting appeal when Photoshopped onto my pasty white deltoid.
Here it is, a mere hour after getting inked.
Still, it didn’t take long to elect the winner. Some of you may have heard me wax poetic on the Game Central Podcast about the digital shockwaves that Quake has impacted on my life. If crossing over from consoles to PCs is a journey, then Quakeserved as my bridge. It was the first game I ever ventured into online (beyond the LAN setting), and it was the first PC game where I dominated others like a wrathful god of furious pain (play me on House of Cthon. I dare you).
It was because of this quaint little shooter that I initially stumbled upon Team Fortress; no, not Team Fortress Classic, with all the grenades and pyrotechnic acrobatics, I’m talking about the original. The one where you had to stand completely still to fire the Heavy’s mini-gun, and the one where the Medic bashed you with an axe to heal you.
But the whole interpretation of Quake goes well beyond just hammering away at an interactive piece of visual media. Quake represents a time in my existence of pure exuberant freedom; a time of total PC gaming nirvana. A period completely unrestricted by any of life’s usual distractions. When the game was released, I’d just graduated high school and joined the USAF on the delayed enlistment program (something our comrade Kirill is now experiencing first hand). Although I signed the dotted line in May, my departure date for basic training was December 10th. This left 8 precious months of personal uncompressed gaming abandon, and I filled the proverbial mug with everything Quake until it overflowed. Then I chugged it down and filled it again.
Quake, for me, is synonymous with joy. It’s intermingled with otherwise separate cherished memories that occurred in tandem with its magnetic grip over my consciousness. I recall getting lost in Quake one final time the night before boot camp, my limbs and digits brimming with a bizarre mixture of anxiety and excitement. I remember clacking away on my keyboard and palming my mouse nervously while I watched enraged thunderstorms ravish the hilly landside in a beautiful deluged destruction. I remember squeezing in just 5 more minutes on E1M2 before my family shuffled off into the rusty ol’ Chevy Lumina minivan for Thanksgiving at my grandparent’s.
My safari with Quake goes far beyond just an enjoyable diversion that once encapsulated a small moment in my lifespan. When I think ofQuake, it reminds me of that long chilly walk I took right after I beat the second act for the first time, the clanking background noises and monster’s muffled grunts still echoing through my head; it reminds me of the crisp Vermont autumn air that filled my lungs while I traipsed along the dirt road that meandered past my house; it reminds me of casting my eyes to the darkened sky as it dropped a few wayward flakes of snow down from above like floating whitened ashes, the icy crystals melting away on my brow while I wondered if perhaps one day I might understand where inspirations to create masterpieces such as Quake might stem from.
My internal reflection and retrospection of Quake, ultimately, is why I opted to emblazon a permanent impression on myself of a game once so actively engaged. It’s a reminder to me of a life that once was, of a personal golden age now expended. Quake is much more than just a game; it’s a portal to my past, a best friend nearly lost to the teeth of the daily grind. And now, it will always be with me, and it will never be forgotten.
But what about the obligatory cliché? Will I regret the tattoo in 40 years? Will I look back and curse my misguided youth? Not a snowball’s chance in hell, friends.
“id still think of quake as just another one of their games. When will they realize they have a sport similar to football on their hands and that the players deserve add free opensource amazingness. If they wont do it, the players will. Free quake.”—oleedee