For reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with unconfirmed rumour and speculation that I may or may not have maxed out my credit card with a new TV, I didn’t fly up from Cape Town for rAge last weekend. I’m sure all those people who lined up outside the Coca-Cola Dome, waiting to punch me in the ovaries for slagging off Duke Nukem Forever were tremendously disappointed, especially after they had been working on that clever kitchen joke for months already.

Hypothetically, of course, the TV is totally worth surviving on boiled dust for the next six months or so, but I’m also rather sad to have missed out on the continent’s second-biggest gaming event of the year. Which sort of got me thinking about the entire concept of big gaming events, and how a phrase like “big gaming event” didn’t even exist in our sociocultural lexicon until just a few years ago.

How did this even happen? I remember when a big gaming event was a furtive exchange of pirated floppy disks behind the trees around my primary school’s marble course, or a dot matrix-printed walkthrough of King’s Quest IIII, or OMG IT’S A GAME ON A CD, IT’S LIKE BLADE RUNNER OR SOMETHING. But somewhere in between 1988 and Pokémon, it’s like gaming packed up its stuff, rushed out of the metaphorical basement bedroom of some mouth-breathing megadork, and hurled itself onto the neon billboards of mainstream consciousness. Basically, video games suddenly became cool. Maybe you had to be there, but man, it’s some kind of unexpected crazy.

Not that I’m complaining about it, mind you. Back when gaming was a don’t-ask, don’t-tell deal, not only were games pretty hard to come by, but they weren’t exactly cheap either. Supply and demand is one thing, maybe, but twenty years ago, R200 wasn’t easily accommodated by a teen budget that also had to cover Nirvana albums, strawberry lip gloss, and this one girl’s older brother’s friend’s procurator’s fee for buying us beer.

Pictured: A grunge band.

I guess that’s why I can’t even pretend to understand this curmudgeonly elitist attitude some people have these days about gaming being as commercial as it is because blah blah blah and rant rant rant and Counter-Strike. You know, I like that I can walk into just about any shop, and buy a new game, and I couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t give a flamethrowing shit that everybody else is doing it now too. Snotty non-conformism is so sixth grade, and black was never really my colour anyway.

And as for those vitriolic blog rants about dumbing down and consoles and whatever else they’re hating on this week, well, apparently those kids didn’t play Frogger or know about the SNES. Also, get off my lawn, etc.

So for those of you who were lucky enough to attend rAge this year, I hope you made the most of it. And by “it”, I do mean the fact that it’s happening at all.

* The biggest being my next Gears of War 3 system-link party, obviously.