I have never been an online gamer. Ever. I've played online games, sure, but my forays can best be compared with drunken co-ed 'experimentation' on spring break. While initially intriguing, it was hollow, empty, and simply 'not for me'. I ran back to my comfort zone of competitive gaming whose arena was laden with television sets, couches, chips and good buddies whose faces I could actually see.
Multiplayer gaming has always been about my 'ace in the hole' move list - unplugging controllers, shutting off the TV at opportune times, and when I was in a sporting mood I would simply crush my opponents with a dazzling display of skill normally reserved for professionals and idiot savantes. I relegated my PC to more involved shooters and all the various incarnations of Warcraft, Starcraft and the occasional round of American McGee's Alice. I left the multiplayer to NBA 2K games and Smash Bros. on my PS2/Gamecube.
I bought HL2 when it came out and tried deathmatch - a better experience but still not my cup of tea. I went to a friend's house and played Halo 2 over Xbox live and was met with a barrage of insults, homo/xenophobic children swearing like crazy and freaking out and taking it all way too seriously. The experience made me feel like something was wrong with the world. I missed the feeling of a well-timed charlie horse when my round-ending hadoken/elbow combo was about to draw tears of frustration out of my opponent.
When World of Warcraft was released I was intrigued but ultimately let down by the fact it wasn't an RTS. What little interest I had was soon squashed by endless discussion among coworkers of the merits of the game - I've never been much of an RPG fan and the glassy eyed, cult member automatons the game turned my coworkers into only resulted in more disdain for the online community, especially MMOs. This plague haunts me to this very day.
Then I tried Team Fortress 2.
I hopped on a server to see what fuss was about (I totally dig the art style) and was met with some hot, Heavy-on-Heavy multiplayer run and gun action. I held my own. I loved the maps and game modes. It was incredibly satisfying. In short, I loved it. I was swept off my feet. I totally came.
Will I become a regular online video gamer? Time will tell. If this tent I'm still pitching is any indication I just might.