The RPG Maker Virus

I grew up on classic Japanese RPGs, primarily those for the Super Nintendo and the original Playstation. I credit that genre for helping me learn to read. These games, and many to have come out since, are a part of who I am even today. It should be no surprise, then, that my excitement was immeasurable when I learned about something called “RPG Maker”.

I was a child at the time, and RPG Maker 2000 was the latest version. I managed to acquire it by some means or another and started to tinker with it. It was intuitive enough to pick up on quickly, even as a child, so it wasn’t long before I was making little adventures – certainly nothing to write home about, but enough to appease my developing mind.

My father always liked to pretend he was tech savvy. Honestly, he liked to pretend he was everything savvy. It was easy to fall for this act as a child, when he was the one I was supposed to look up to. He had me fooled for certain. Though we all know what they say about hindsight.

Each day the computer seemed to have more toolbars, more antivirus software, more animals on the desktop trying to talk to me. I only figured these were great features to have available, despite my own inability to find use for them. The computer was only slow because it was old.

I would say, even today, that I couldn’t tell you how early my own tech knowledge surpassed my father’s. I imagine it would be earlier than any guess I could make. I learned a lot through making mistakes, but I learned nonetheless. That seemed to be the difference.

It wasn’t too long after I sank into my obsession with RPG Maker 2000 that the hard drive in the family computer was mysteriously wiped. My father was quick to blame RPG Maker, saying it had a virus or something. He forbade me from downloading it again. I have no idea what happened that day. Maybe the website I downloaded the program from did actually include a virus in the package. That said, I think the conclusion that requires the least assumptions is that my father’s reckless – and often drunken – behavior on the internet led to this outcome.

The idea of even suggesting that back then, even if I had realized how much more I understood about the subject matter at the time, seemed downright perilous. Instead, I did refrain from downloading RPG Maker 2000 for quite a while, until years later when I got a computer of my own. By that time, there were even newer versions available. I had some catching up to do.

This was far from the worst thing my father had done to me, but it does paint a picture of the type of person my father was, especially as he got older. Bitterness and regret, disguised as overconfidence, painted his actions, and he struggled to hide it as time passed. I pity him, but I wish he had been given the support he needed to make it through.

I write this as I continue to tinker with RPG Maker MZ, the latest version to this day. I’m learning more and more advanced things to the point where I’m starting to just work in JavaScript. I’m not sure that anything I have been doing with this program will see the light of day, especially considering my lack of skill in visual art restricts me to resources made by others, but I’ll go on tinkering nonetheless.


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