Over the course of less than a week, I married a man named James whom I cheated on with the schizophrenic butler, Daffy. All the while we were being poisoned by the robot gardener, Daniel, who kept insisting we “try the tulips”, because they were apparently delicious. James wanted me dead anyhow, because he didn’t want me to divorce him and take all his money. It was sad because we’d loved each other once. This led to a spat between he and Daffy wherein Daffy was shot and promptly turned in to a zombie.
Oh, the dramas you can create using only your imagination and some spare time with a couple wonderfully humorous people. Such was my experience at the Icrontic New Year party (commonly abbreviated to ICNY).
It might sound weird, but I’ll just tell you what was said to me any time something weird, funny, or oddly uplifting happened to me here:
Let me be honest; I am not exactly what you would call a “gamer”. Up until four months ago, my gaming wherewithal was more or less limited to Super Mario Brothers and Tetris. I will also admit to an on-and off love affair with NeoPets, but that is really neither here nor there. Recently, however, I was introduced to a gaming platform called “Steam”—maybe you’ve heard of it. The game “Portal” lived up to its name and opened up a new world for me, and from there an obsession was born. I tried my hand at several other games, including Team Fortress 2 and World of Warcraft. So, by the time I made it to Warren, Michigan on December 28th, three days early for the New Year Party, I was ready for the games. I was ready to play the games, and to watch the games, and by God, I was ready to be the games.
What I was not ready for was falling completely in love with every person that I met. I wasn’t ready to have Brian Ambrozy’s home completely opened up to me. I wasn’t ready for Detroit to be so beautiful. I wasn’t ready to have the most fun I’ve had in years. In short: I was not ready to have a completely life-altering experience.
If you’re like me, you didn’t really know what Icrontic was even after lurking the forums for a bit. I’d once asked my boyfriend (“Myrmidon” in the gaming world) what exactly this website was after he’d mentioned it a few times. He responded with a cryptic, “Oh God, how can I answer that?” Really, how could he have?
The truth is, what Icrontic has done is so unique that it does, indeed, defy conventional description. Even now, after having spent nearly a week with them, words fail me. This level and sense of community is so rare that seeing it up close was surreal. Like I said, I’m not a gamer. I’m just a girl with a laptop who signs on to Steam every so often to kill time and, sometimes, crazed super computers… but it didn’t set me apart from anyone. It didn’t make me an outsider. Near as I can figure, the only thing that could make you an outsider here is being a jerk, and I really didn’t meet any of those.
There is definitely something to be said about waking up at one in the afternoon and crawling over two dead-asleep bodies, dragging yourself up the stairs of a basement, and finding yourself in a room filled with laptops and happy faces. At ICHQ time didn’t exist, selfishness had all but evaporated, and people smiled when you called their name. It’s how I imagine walking in to the Cheers bar must feel like, except at IC there’s much less Ted Danson and far more alcohol. Everyone around me made sure I always had something vegetarian on my plate, they made me drinks for fun, and they took care of me when I was sick. When I expressed a fear of annoying people, I was merely told, “Everyone here is your friend, dude, and they want you to be happy”. Icrontians came and went in the days I spent there, and by the time the New Year rolled around there was such a strong sense of belonging that I’d almost forgotten I hadn’t known these people my whole life and that I lived a world away from most of them.
“I am terrible at journaling. I always write more about my feelings than my experiences. To that point, though, I have been happy, sad, excited, starry-eyed, awed, angered, flattered, and ALL the things in varying turns and degrees since I’ve been here… and it’s been mostly amazing. I’ve learned that TF2 is easier when playing with a great group of people, boys are exceedingly kind when drunk, and complete strangers can treat you like family. I’d say that speaks more about this trip that all the ‘I-ate-here’s and the ‘I-did-this’s in the world. So… there.
Keep it up, Icrontic. You guys do good work.