As a young nerd, I grew up as most of our kind do. I had a room filled with books, knew way too much about spiders, and played Pokemon TCG. As such, I was subject to a fair amount of teasing, as expected, and some isolation. The isolation didn’t come in the normal “No one would play” with me sort. I mean, no one would play with me, but I also grew up in an incredibly small town. The town is so small today; some 20-odd years later, we only have 5 traffic lights. Small towns, well, they don’t have Pokemon cards.
Imagine four young men blooming into their nerddom during middle school. Day after day, they come together to practice Pokemon battles. Everyone has a starter deck. Everyone is equal. Then, one of the groups receives a booster set during a trip to a large city. The power dynamic changes, and suddenly no one is equal. It wasn’t even worth playing anymore, with every battle predetermined. Those were the dark days for me. The lean times.
Then my family bought a computer, an E-machine courtesy of the newly built Walmart. Today this thing would be less than a dinosaur, and my Raspberry Pi would have no problem putting it to shame. Yet, back then, it opened up a world. With a trusty dial-up connection, a wealth of information was unleashed. It was a testament to human ingenuity and a repository of all knowledge. And I used it to buy Pokemon cards. Not as bad as the second thing I used it for.
Unfortunately, this was the twilight of the Pokemon craze, and I couldn’t afford to get caught up with Magic the Gathering. In short, most of the card games of renown were deemed heretical by the more conservative pastors in my town. I ended up as part of the High School wrestling team, the Star Wars prequels launched, and all hope seemed lost. Luckily the kids who ate lunch by the library took pity on me, passing me bootlegs of their favorite animes and introducing me to Dungeons and Dragons. The rest is history, as they say.