03 April 1996

The End of an Error

Sic Transit Gloria GEnie

(GEnie was the online service that “started it all” for multiplayer gaming back in the late 1980’s. It was slow and expensive and about as customer friendly as an IRS audit. But it was all there was and we played Air Warrior with a fervor that bordered on addiction. I sent the message below to the newsgroups when GEnie finally died.)

Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 22:41:07 -0800
From: msmiller@world.std.com (Mark S. Miller)
Subject: Spring Hate-Cleaning
Newsgroups: alt.games.air-warrior
Organization: GonZo Engineering

Today a chapter in my life has ended.

I cancelled my accounts on GEnie. All of ‘em. I have ripped that vile, rotting corpse from my backyard - dug it up with a backhoe, and flung it out on the interstate for the crows and rats to feed on. Then let the acid rain take care of what’s left.

To paraphrase Chief Joseph: “I will pay no more forever.”

Like a small handful of Survivors, I signed on to GEnie in 1987 … to play AirWarrior. Nine years later, I anxiously await the chance to dance on GEnie’s grave. GEnie was simply too slow and too dumb to live. Comparisons to dinosaurs are obvious, too easy, and - sadly - wrong. The big scaly bastards were nature made - and nature couldn’t conceive of anything as far behind the evolutionary curve as GEnie.

Not without help by Man. And not just “man” … but that lowest form of the breed known as “Greedy Man.” They tried to get wine from a stone, and it came out smelling strangely like vinegar, and a lot more warm and yellow than they’d like. And now there are traces of red in it. And small chunks of entrail which sneak their way down the urinary tract to Freedom - to escape the ravenous tapeworms which which ooze sulphuric acid from every inch of their length, and gnaw away at GEnie’s innards with razor sharp jaws.

The big boot of The Future stomped the living snot out of GEnie. No … that’s not quite right. It wasn’t The Future that killed GEnie … it was the present. For a brief moment they were high times because GEnie was The Only Game In Town. We lived on GEnie … and GEnie lived on us. And they gloated about it … treated customers like used air-sickness bags … and thought they could get away with it. And for a while they did.

But Time is a cruel muther, and eventually Time catches up with things that deserve to die and puts them in their place. And it doesn’t say “pretty please, may I?” first. It smacks the thing upside the head with a 2x4, saws it’s legs off, and chains it’s testicles to the floor - to keep it in its place.

It’ll take a while to get GEnie out of my system. I’ll wax nostalgic any time I smell rotting flesh, or see a truck-struck skunk on the highway. But it’ll pass, and the world will be a slightly better place - though I doubt anyone will notice.