I love computers. They have actively enriched my life by keeping me in contact with friends after repeated moves across the country, and their need for continuous preventative maintenance has kept me gainfully employed since 2008. Some of my strongest memories of elementary school are playing Math Blaster on what was probably an Apple II. My family’s first computer was a Packard Bell PC pre-bundled with Windows 95, and I remember my best friend’s older brother showing me how to find that Weezer video and get Hover! running. There was also the traumatic day when my mother flipped out on me for moving the entire taskbar to the left side of the screen and locking it there. When my eight-year-old self showed her how to unlock the thing and move it around, I had my first taste of something like hidden knowledge. I had skills that some people did not have, and would not bother to learn (often for good reason; I know former diplomats who struggle with overhead projectors, to say nothing of differing between POP3 and IMAP email protocols).
The wrinkle in all of this was I was a Windows purist. My sixteenth birthday present, a Sony PC with an ATI Radeon x700 and 2GB RAM (baller) was an XP machine that lasted me from high school through my first year of undergrad. That was about the time I got a job doing IT for the university, which had managed to sequester Vista to maybe ten out of maybe fifteen hundred systems, so by the end I had some basic knowledge of the Windows Registry, Active Directory, driver compatibility issues, and other enterprise IT nonsense to compliment my own desire to have a PC that could run the newest Total War games reliably (which eventually led to me grabbing a sick x1300 card). My first laptop was a desktop replacement-ish Toshiba with a 17” display, and it ran Vista well enough. Then came the day when I hit some manner of recurring BSOD scenario and I had thrown my recovery media into a fire (it was a Vista disk). What was I to do?
“Why don’t you just try Linux?” asked one of my comp sci friends.
“Hmm,” said I.
Thus began my steady evolution into “that guy.” That guy who complains about GUIs and is looking at working on compiling his own kernel. That guy who is beginning to look down upon Steam after their latest EULA as having become a little too nakedly a DRM scheme. That guy whose problems with Windows 8 (and his Windows Phone 7) are not with the interface, but with the closed source philosophical stances they would represent. That guy who, during his annual reimaging process for his own PC (Core i5 2500K, 3.3GHz, 8GB DDR3 RAM, AMD RadeonHD x5770), left a 200GB partition to run the next LTS Ubuntu distro when it dropped.
I am trying to be a Linux gamer. This is a thing that is now more easily done than Linus Torvalds could have dared to dream back when “linux” was a humble ftp file name. Between open source recreations of classics like UFO: Enemy Unknown and Quake III: Arena, Desura, the Humble Indie Bundles, and recent announcements by Valve that Steam itself will soon be coming to my favorite operating system, the options have grown significantly from fast-and-loose Java versions of Minesweeper. I will openly admit that I still boot into Windows 7 to play games that in all likelihood will never come to Linux (Skyrim, XCOM, and the last chapter of Space Marine come immediately to mind). But lately I’ve been drawn to different experiences. Specifically, I’ve found the process of being ground to dust by a game, and having to surmount actual challenges, to be as rewarding (if not more so) than the hundreds and hundreds of hours I’ve spent playing Elder Scrolls games. The three punch combo of Super Meat Boy, FTL, and Jamestown, my needs are pretty much covered. Hell, add Dungeons of Dredmor from Desura and you’ve got an incredible amount of gameplay there for a handful of change (assuming you’ve got access to gold dollars).
What the hell is the point of all of this? I want to write reviews here that reflect my experience with playing the games available to Linux users. I would like to do an Extra Life stream where I play nothing but games that run in Linux. I want to communicate that just because I have elected to use a free, open source operating system does not mean I intend to pirate and steal well-made games whose creators deserve a buck. Don’t take my word for it; look at every Humble Indie Bundle to date and you will see Linux users willing to pay roughly twice as much as Windows users, on average, for the same bundle of games. Linux gamers are a very real demographic, one that developers like Valve are wisely beginning to notice. Others would be wise to do the same, as we won’t be going anywhere (though some of us will maintain a blasphemous dual-boot scenario indefinitely).