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03 May 2007

Fort Bend, TX is full of n00bz.

There was a span of a few months during my junior year in high school in which my friend Chris and I taught ourselves how to create maps for Doom II. I don't remember the name of the program we found on the internet that enabled us, but it was a buggy, awful application that would always hang at inopportune times, driving me to distraction and causing one out of every three or four of my clicks to be on "save."

Basically, we were able to draw lines to create a bunch of different sectors, and then set properties for each sector to determine textures for the surfaces, lighting, height. If you ever played those games, you might remember that the mechanics didn't permit overlapping rooms, so although you could create elevators and stairs and the like, you couldn't make one room actually exist above another. All floor surfaces had to be completely level, too. Still, with these basic tools we set about creating these maps, and then splattering each other all over them for hours and hours over our 14.4k modems, ensuring busy signals for all who would foolishly attempt to dial our parents.

Nothing I made was ever pretty, but I liked the idea of taking ownership of my gaming experience. Chris on the other hand, accomplished some truly remarkable things given our limited tools. He's an architect now and makes his living doing a much more complicated version of the same thing.

One of the things I tried to make, after a moderately good model of my own home (with teleports instead of staircases to simulate multiple floors that were actually on top of one another), was a map based on our high school. It seemed a completely natural and fun thing to do to try and recreate a real-life place in a virtual world. I never was able to finish it, because it got too big and the buggy program couldn't handle it. But I did try. It was unanimously agreed upon by my friends that if I had succeeded, it would have been totally rad.

A story that's all over the Internet today is that of a sociable, popular honors student in Fort Bend, TX whose life is being turned upside-down because he succeeded in creating what looks to be a pretty amazing Counter-Strike map of his own Clement High School:
Although the police confiscated a hammer they found in his bedroom as a possible terroristic weapon and not a tool to fix his wobbly bed, no charges are being pressed. Still, the kid has been relegated to the district's alternative school and will not be permitted to attend his graduation.

I'm certainly not the only one who thinks this is fucked up, and a very large number of folks are making their concerns be known in a number of comment sections. I just wanted to go on record here as an example of someone who, as a high school student, found great satisfaction in digitally simulating familiar surroundings, and then littering them with the pixelated blood and guts.

You could make a fairly convincing argument that I turned out ok. Chris too.

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