Roger Wilco: The Character That Defines Musings of a Nitpicking Girl

JAN 6 MUSIC

We could not find a more appropriate theme if we tried! This original composition captures the essence of the Space Quest series perfectly, with both whimsy and quite horror. Or, perhaps we’re looking too deeply into what is simply a beautiful spacey jam. Either way, we hope you enjoy!

We’re pairing 8-bit music thematically, rather than based entirely on series. You can find this track and more Tater-Tot Tunes on YouTube! Also, we can confirm that, because this tater-tot has eyes, it reads these entries!


INTRODUCTION

Normal Happenings is proud to present The Characters That Define Us, a year long collaboration of 52+ incredible bloggers! We’re so thankful for the positive reception of the first piece, and we know you’ll love this entry by Kate from Musings of a Nitpicking Girl just as much.

In her about section, Kate claims to be a nitpicker, meaning she’s “a person who finds faults, however small or unimportant, everywhere they look.” Therefore we’ll be extra careful not to make a single typo in this introduction. (Or will we?) She’s also an authority on classic PC games, able to throw herself into them like few others in an era of modern gaming. We wouldn’t be surprised if Roger Wilco is completely off your radar. But we thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this hero of an era gone by. Katie, thank you for an excellent entry on how Roger Wilco defines you. You are go for launch!


1P START

When Space Quest II made it into my hands through what I like to imagine as a shady exchange of floppy disks at my uncle’s workplace, I embarked on an adventure that sucked me deep into the world of exploration and puzzle-solving. In the summer of 1990 there was a big heatwave in the UK. I was the only kid on my street who turned paler.

There’s More Than One Way To Open a Tin of Tuna

Space Quest was nothing I’d ever seen before. This was different from moving a sprite around with keys or a joystick. Here was a big empty text box, inviting you to write whatever the hell you want. And I did. Left, right and jump were now ‘climb tree’, ‘talk to creature’ and ‘take a s**t’ (‘Would you want your mother to hear you say that?’) As a language nerd this was right up my street. Suddenly I could talk to my protagonist and suggest what he does next, instead of just blithely moving him around. We had a connection – it was me and Roger against the EGA world.

The text parser essentially meant I got to control Roger using my thoughts. It was kind of like telepathy. I was his thoughts. Kate thinks, and Roger does (except when he was being stubborn, but hey, I can identify with that). It was so much more immersive than other games I played – to the extent that I felt so, so guilty whenever Roger came to one of the many imaginatively unforgiving ends. I’m sorry Roger, who knew that was a hole? I’m sorry Roger, I thought the floor waxer was harmless. I’m sorry Roger, I couldn’t control myself with that alien.

Sometimes that guilt was shared – what with us being one entity, and all. Dammit Roger, swim faster. Dammit Roger, let GO of the rope. Dammit Roger, WATCH YOUR STEP! Needless to say, I never carried Roger to victory. Sierra’s unrelenting knack for ruthless deaths – together with an absence of the internet – meant I got stuck a lot. I was forever reaching for the nearest family trinket and lobbing it across the room.

But in the time we had, I understood Roger as an outsider. I felt like a bit of a nobody at school. I didn’t share many interests with any of the kids (PC gaming, anyone?) and when I won the triple jump on sports day because I was the only participant, it seemed fitting that Roger was similarly underwhelmed: ‘The promotion to head janitor was no consolation. (Especially since you are the ONLY member of the janitorial staff.)’ Hell, this dude got me.

And he got into my head even when I wasn’t playing Space Quest. If I had a difficult decision to make, I found myself asking, ‘What would Roger do?’ It certainly made me stop and think. Be careful before picking up that shard of metal. Roger was my guidance counsellor, my guardian angel. My life coach with a plunger. Just as puzzles and conundrums fed my investigative nature, so did Roger make me think outside the box. There’s more than one way to open a tin of tuna, and it doesn’t have to be boring.

Halcyon Days of Exploring

A lot of this is in jest (no, really), but in all seriousness, when you’re a child (and an only one at that), escapism is important. Escapism with a ‘friend’ is even better, and Roger gave me that. He wasn’t real, but the game was so captivating that among the space station corridors, swampy woods with their intriguing creatures, and the ever-defiant foliage, he came to life and took me on an adventure. Not that I had an unhappy childhood to contend with – far from it – but it meant that for those few hours every night I didn’t need to worry about what was going on in the real world.

After I was done with Space Quest, it would be years before I returned to adventure games. But I carried Roger’s teachings with me (life is what you make of it; underdogs can make a difference; don’t enter a bathroom stall without knocking) and when I revisited Space Quest nearly 20 years later it felt like reuniting with an old friend. I was right back there in an instant, and this time, with the help of a walkthrough to avoid any more broken valuables, I finally saw the game through to the end.

Since that first foray into the Space Quest series I’ve played lots of adventure games – old ones and new. I can’t get enough of them, but it was that first encounter that will always remain special. I’ve had fun with the likes of Guybrush, Dave, Delores and McQueen, but no one will replace Roger Wilco and those halcyon days of exploring, puzzling and laughing.

Thank goodness for heatwaves.


MAGIPEDIA

Want to learn more about the lore and etymology of Roger Wilco?
See the latest Magipedia entry on Roger Wilco from The Well-Red Mage!

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warp points

>January 27, 2020 | Peter Parker | The Reel Anna
>January 20, 2020 | Master Chief | Hear Dave Write
>January 13, 2020 | Roger WilcoMusings of a Nitpicking Girl
>January 6, 2020 | Yuna | A Geeky Gal

NEW QUESTS are announced every Saturday in 2020!

PARTICIPANTS (in alphabetical order)

21 Comments
  1. First like AGAIN! Hahahaha!

    You never forget your first and I actually forgot about Space Quest until this very article and its subject popped up. My first adventure game was Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders. I love those old point n clicks.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is such a wonderful piece! It works perfectly for this collaboration, being really personal and unique but also in another way being very relatable (yep, PC Gaming wasn’t a hobby many of my schoolmates in the early ’90s shared either!).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aw, I love your piece, Kate! Ironically, I didn’t get bit by the PC gaming bug until later in life myself, but you relating back to Roger on these levels is incredibly relatable and I really want to look into this game sometime now. Great work and thanks for sharing this with us!

    Liked by 2 people

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