I clapped eyes on my new laptop; relatively new, anyway. It used to be a friend’s, but he hadn’t the patience or want to fix it. I took it off his hands, had it fixed, and it was in front of me. I was so excited. I desperately wanted to see what she could do. So I turned her on, and set up my equipment. I installed some games, and got to trying them out; It was wonderful. Never before had I been able to play games with such clarity, which such precision. It was like playing games for the first time, games that I had played for hours upon hours felt brand new. It was amazing in every way, and I knew this was going to be something I would cherish for years.
This was going to be an awesome Christmas.
I fell into my chair. The day had felt long, even though I finished supplying at noon. The kids were typical, shouting and talking and blurting… it was draining. Still, the internet had been installed; having been disconnected for so long, I was eager to play some games. I opened up Iris, and hit the power button. A soft click, nothing. I pressed the button again. A darkened screen was my only response. One more time, I gingerly tried to power Iris on. This time is worked, the hard drive whirring to life, the hum of the fan telling me that Iris was breathing.
Third time’s the charm, I guess.
I was stumped on a name. I have a habit of naming my gizmos and gadgets. I don’t really know why, but it gives them a personality. I enjoy that. I wanted to make sure that this computer’s name reflected what I thought of it though, so I spent a lot of time on it. My older Mactop got the name Snuffykins, because one accident left its fan off kilter. This caused the laptop to ‘purr’ like a kitten. So, Snuffykins. He’s been a slow, sturdy little computer since. This machine, however, was something altogether different. It was a whole new world of experiences for me. That’s when it hit me: Iris. Like that part of the eye, she was a viewport to a new world of possibilities. Iris was a perfect name, and as far as I was concerned, so was she.
I immediately booted up Heroes of Newerth and put in a few solid hours of play.
I had lost my first game of Nauts, but I was happy to be playing at all. It was a tremendously laggy game; it seemed Iris could barely handle the game on high graphics. Playing accurately was difficult. Once the first game ended, I turned off Awesomenauts, and rebooted the game on a lower graphics setting.
“Iris, you’re getting old.” I scratched my head as confusion set in. Wasn’t Iris able to handle more? Maybe I just needed to defrag her or something. It had been awhile since I’d done maintenance.
Sitting in silence in the June heat, I watched Markiplier make his way through yet another Amnesia custom story. The game was horrifying. Ghouls and monsters stalked him, but he pressed through. I was dumbfounded: I hated horror games, I loathed scary movies, and Stephen King was an author I’d never thought to visit. Still, I watched on, surprised that I was, in fact, enjoying myself.
I took a break from watching Amnesia, and decided to boot up Steam. My old friend, Craig (A.K.A Eldadres) had reminded me of a 2d MOBA called Awesomenauts. It was available on X-Box live for months, but it had just recently been released on Steam. I had almost forgotten about it. I remembered that I was really interested though, I booted up the store page. I bought the game, and started the download.
I was not happy with how round two was turning out. We had been struggling since minute one. I bounced around the level, doing my best to get upgrades and defend my base. Still, we lost. They’re team was too much: they broke our buildings, picked off my team, and got enough power to wipe the floor with us. I sighed as the announcer shouted what I knew already.
“Thanks, game.” Defeat didn’t quite cover it; we were crushed.
I looked at the stats. I didn’t play particularly well after all, died way too many times. Still, I was happy to be playing after such a long hiatus. I started up another match, picked my character, and started playing.
Suddenly, the screen went black. Nothing.
I closed the tab to my browser, experiencing… something. I wasn’t sure what. I was toying with an idea, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good one. I had a copy of Amnesia, so that wasn’t an issue. I could download it easily. I also had Awesomenauts which I was proficient at, to a point where I was good at it. I found a copy of FRAPS, and downloaded it. I had the drive space to do what I was thinking. This was possible.
I watched another episode of Markiplier’s Amnesia series.
“If he can do it, so can I.” I didn’t mean this unkindly; he inspired me, and I felt I had to try.
I made my way to YouTube, and registered a new channel: slowwolfgaming.
I sat in stunned frustration. What?
I wasn’t sure. I clicked the power button, and heard a faint click as the white power light bloomed. It turned off just as quickly.
Iris wasn’t working.
“Well, fucking great.” I had just started a game. Just! My team would likely lose, and I would have lost ranking on the leaderboards. It wasn’t even my fault, it just happened! What did I do? Nothing. Nothing at all.
Iris wasn’t running.
I got out of my chair, wringing my hands. Anger was taking over. I breathed calmly, deeply, attempting to re-establish control over my feelings. That was hard. My rage kept bubbling up. Why did it have to happen then? Why at all? What was the point of doing all that planning I did before I left for the UK, to have this laptop here at all, when it wouldn’t fucking work when I wanted it to?
Iris wasn’t breathing.
It suddenly dawned on me what happened. I rushed to my desk and tried to turn on the computer.
Iris wouldn’t live. Tears welled in my eyes.
I turned off the stream in a sigh of relief. I had started streaming Awesomenauts twelve hours ago and I had just finished a marathon of gaming. My throat was dry, my eyes hurt, and my ass was sore. I was unbelievably happy. My channel, the community that had rallied around me over the course of a year, had managed to raise more than $600 for charity. I started laughing from sheer relief.
I turned off Steam, and shut down Iris. We had been through a year of making YouTube videos. I compared myself to Markiplier, and I thought of the differences between us. My channel, at just over one thousand subscribers, was nothing compared to the tens of thousands Markiplier had put together in almost the same span of time. I didn’t get it. It was okay though: he really did earn it. Jealousy is a bitch, I thought to myself.
“We did it, Iris.”
I lightly patted Iris’ cover, thinking about how far we’d come. Thanks to Iris I had a small legion of people who had just donated a lot of money to charity. At least, it was a lot of money to me. That kind of money… I had never seen it outside of tuition payments. If I thought about it, this was the most significant contribution towards society that I was responsible for. I began to cry. It was empowering, knowing I could bring that together. I was important.
As I walked out the door, I looked at Iris. I flicked the light off, and went to bed. Things could only go up.
Iris started a particularly defining journey in my life. I met friends, created communities, and made strong relationships with many people I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I created videos that some enjoyed, and some did not. More importantly, some people needed them. In those cases, I like to think that Iris made that possible. It’s a humbling experience knowing that you did something important for someone.
None of these things would’ve happened without Iris.
I guess this is goodbye, Iris. I know you are a machine; I should just be annoyed and move on. But it hurts, and I’m angry, and I am actually really sad. I don’t know if I’ll miss you two years from now, when I’ll be on a different computer, maybe doing the same thing. I don’t know if I’ll remember all the times I relied on you. The times I needed an escape, the times I needed a place to put my thoughts where no one would find them.
But I will never forget what you made possible, and how much I owe to a little green laptop that I fixed up three years ago.