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Back when I was in college, I got myself an Xbox 360 and occasionally spent weekends playing drunk Halo with my friends in our dorm rooms. But that was before someone introduced me to Steam and all of the wonders of online multiplayer gameplay in Team Fortress 2. After that, I never looked back to the Xbox.
I went to a fairly nerdy college where the average student spent weekends locked up in their caves sweating over their pizza boxes and piles of Mountain Dew cans playing HoN or WoW. But those were the extremists. My friends and I were a little different. My school was mostly an engineering school, so when it came to computers, diagnosing an issue or getting something pirated was merely steps away. My first year I hung out with the kids who knew where all the basement concerts were. But my second year, I found my niche with the gaming crowd. And it was that same crowd who introduced me to Team Fortress 2.
When I first saw the game, it was on my friend’s laptop and I sat down to play and had no idea what I was doing.
“You’ll love it, I promise,” he said.
That turned out to be an understatement. Sometimes I stayed up til 4 a.m. playing the game, sometimes dominating the map and other times running into a few snags when I knew my game was off. Team Fortress 2 began my obsession with PC gaming and suddenly console gaming felt so distant and outdated. PC gaming was where it was at.
The Team Fortress 2 community was somewhere I could be myself. Sometimes I'd band together with other players to take out an enemy, and we worked together to get things. Other times I trolled the living crap out of someone just because it was hilarious. But then there were the times you'd meet someone and get caught up in serious conversation,a nd you found yourself connecting over who knows how far of a distance. Most of the time, it was a chill place to be.
From there I fell into other PC games like Counter-Strike, Killing Floor and Left 4 Dead 2. I couldn’t get enough of the online multiplayer. But best of all, these games worked on my crappy laptop, good enough that I could knock out a few rounds with decent kill/death ratios before my laptop began to overheat. I even put money into a fancy laptop cooler just so I could play longer.
But when Team Fortress 2 went free-to-play, everyone and their mother downloaded the game. Suddenly it wasn’t this niche community where I could joke with strangers during a match and troll to my heart’s content. Now, everyone had the damn game, even 8-year-old kids who didn’t know how to use a mic. Team Fortress 2 lost that special something I had found in it so long ago.
Not long after that happened, I tried to hang on to playing Team Fortress 2, but it wasn’t the same. And then all of these dramatic changes started rolling out and I didn't like what was happening. And then the next-generation consoles came out and suddenly, my world changed again. I was out of college and no longer surrounded by the best in computer nerdage, so I gravitated back to being a console gamer and I haven’t gone back to hardcore PC gaming since. While I still have a decent gaming PC now, I only ever use it to review games anymore. Nothing will ever be like it was back in 2009 to 2010 when Team Fortress 2 was a part of who I was as a gamer. It’s just something I’ve learned to let go, and I moved along with the changing times.