Today, the on-line multi-player gaming industry is a billion dollar business that people of all ages participate in. As recent as 10 ten years ago, however, it was limited to 7th grade outcasts and college guys who never went to class. Every now and then they would face off in an epic battle! Or, at least two of them would, as modems circa-1995 wouldn’t allow for any more than that.

My favorite game was Warcraft II, which pitted a band of orcs against the human race, mostly during Philosophy 201. Somehow, I got hooked up with a junior high kid who wanted to play. I burned his ogre village to the ground and killed his pathetic army of Hammer Trolls in a matter of minutes. I didn’t hear from him again until a month later when he woke me up early Saturday morning with a phone call. Grudgingly, I accepted his offer for play, and before I knew it, my castle had been destroyed by a swarm of hobgoblin suicide bombers before I had even built an armory. The kid had been practicing, and it was clear if I wanted to be any good at computer gaming, I would have to dedicate much more time to it. It seemed to me that it would be a lot easier to be good at something like movie trivia, so I just started watching a lot more movies.

Years later, though, I would need computers to play Fantasy Football. One good aspect of on-line gaming is its ability to connect with old friends, even if they live in Vietnam. In my case, it also works well when you play with guys you know from high school who all still live within 10 miles of each other. The only truly notable thing about this time period was the brilliant naming scheme of my fantasy teams I created by combining technology and real football names: The Desk Jets, The Battery Chargers, and some others I can’t remember. Unfortunately, I quit after a few years because cheering for individual players ruined the purity of a team sport. Also, it made it much for confusing who to root for since I had started gambling heavily.

With the new boon in the gaming industry, I didn’t want to feel left out, and since I do not have the internet speed to participate in the cream dream of online gaming, X-Box Live, I started playing on-line poker in the hopes I could make a living at it. While I have made a few hundred dollars, I’ve also developed what my doctor calls “rage ulcers” lining my stomach. I can’t stop now, though, because poker is a game of life with many lessons.

For instance, my names at a couple of the on-line poker rooms are Emma Peel (after the heroine of the British television show, The Avengers) and Pancho Villa (after the feather-weight boxer who died young). For various reasons, it is harder to bluff on internet poker, so I figured one way to incorporate deception is to give other players the impression that I’m female or Mexican. I have a theory that women and Mexicans are often underestimated when it comes to poker. While this theory has yet be proven, I have proved that most poker players are sexist and racist, because I have been told several times to either take my “bitch tits” or “spic cards” and move to another table.

I do not know what the future of on-line gaming holds for me or for the world. I imagine some sort of total-sensory, Matrix-like plane where people gather for battle. In other words- laser tag. I only hope I live that long. Because who knows where internet poker will be by then.