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Andrew Kauz avatar 5:45 PM on 08.30.2009  (server time)
Stories from the Past: Diablo and the Dark Ride

[We tend to forget that every person will experience a game in a different way. We’re all unique people with unique pasts, after all. It was this consideration that bred the idea for this series. Like the name suggests, I’m going to use this series as a platform to simply talk about my experiences playing certain games in the hopes that you can share in the experience through my eyes.]

Diablo was the first game that I played online, and it’s one that I wish I had a tally of the hours spent in-game. It was more than enough to convince my father that it was worthwhile to get one of these experimental “always on” internet connections. I mean, 28.8 was awesome and all, but 56k? Always on? It was pretty unbelievable. So were our internet service bills prior to that point. Sorry dad. Actually, I’m not.

Daddy issues aside (hot, right?), I had a great time playing Diablo. I dicked around with the single player for quite some time before launching myself onto, at which point I immediately began to wonder why I wasted my time offline. After all, the duplication cheat was a revelation, and within minutes of starting, I had the best armor and weapons in the game. Hooray for me!

Of course, I was fairly promptly killed and robbed, but that’s not the point.

Similar to my one-balled man-bear story, I happened to meet quite the character during my time in Diablo: a person who kindly took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, and welcomed me into his world.

His world, however, was one filled with giant cribs and medieval torture devices.

His name was The Dark Ride, and he seemed to be fairly normal, rather helpful, and not out to fuck with me. So, I followed him around, chatted it up about stuff in the game, and killed a whole lot of junk. In our various sessions, we made quite a bit of progress through the game, and, though finding loot better than what we already had was physically impossible, we apparently had fun.

Before long, things started to get a little weird. The creepiness began one day when he asked me a random question out of nowhere.

“Do you know what Catherine Wheel is?” he asked. I had no idea, so I told him so. Probably a bad move in retrospect. Either way, he proceeded to stop his character and launch into the world’s longest typing spree about this band called Catherine Wheel. We must have stood there in the same spot for about thirty minutes as I kept getting assaulted with facts about this band.

Here’s what I remember: Catherine Wheel was the greatest English alternative rock band ever, and basically did everything that Nirvana did, but way before them. I totally should have heard of “Black Metallic,” and he was insanely disappointed with me for not knowing what that song was. It was, from what he said, written about a car, which was not at all interesting to me.

Anyway, he went on to tell me that the Catherine wheel was a medieval torture device, as you see pictured above. Basically, people – including St Catherine of Alexandria, hence the name – were placed upon the wheel and strapped onto it. It was also called the breaking wheel, which may have been a more fitting name based on what occurred after someone was placed on the wheel. At that point, it was time to break out the heavy club and go to town whacking on the limbs of the poor bastard, and you could imagine the result when an especially good hit connected on one of the sections between the spokes. Some people were left there for days, limbs shattered and twisted, until they finally died, at which point their limbs were woven into the spokes, and the wheel was put on a tall pole so that birds could eat the remaining flesh.

I have no idea why I didn’t turn off the game and refuse to even sign on again. I’m probably lucky to be alive today. Anyway, his detailed description was astounding and extremely creepy.

But it didn’t stop there. He then proceeded to tell me what the basis of his username was, which, of course, was tied to this band. He told me, with unwavering seriousness, of this giant crib called The Dark Ride. Yes, a giant crib. It was the crib featured on the album cover for their album “Happy Days.” I have no idea how he knew that it was called The Dark Ride, nor have I been able to find any more information about it on Google. Either way, it’s just too priceless and bizarre to leave out. This guy named himself on a giant crib that may or may not have been called The Dark Ride.

The funniest part is that I bought into the Catherine Wheel hype. I bought their most popular album, and I sought out “Black Metallic.” Now, I have to qualify this by saying that my music taste at the time kind of sucked, but, well, the song was ass. So was the rest of the album. But I bought “Happy Days” as well because it had The Dark Ride on it. It sucked as well. I think I bought every existing album that they had put out, listened to them once, and never took them out again.

God, we’re stupid when we’re young.

Nonetheless, it was a strangely enjoyable time, and it stands as a pretty fitting introduction to the world of online gaming. I don’t know what it is about me that attracts bizarre partners in online worlds, but I have to say: I like it that way. Unfortunately, you just don’t see these sorts of creative characters anymore: it’s either the jackass that you mute immediately, or a fairly normal guy that you have fun with. As much as I like the latter, you just can’t beat someone like Onenut or The Dark Ride.

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