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! Stop by and jam to some great tunes.
Normal Happenings is proud to present The Characters That Define Us, a year long collaboration of 52+ incredible bloggers!
We’re honored to have a special guest with us today! It’s Later Levels, one of the finest blogs on the internet. Later Levels did so much to help put Normal Happenings in front of an audience, both with their fun blog parties and Kim’s contributions to Normal Happenings collabs.
Thank you, Kim, for being such a big part of our blogging journey. Please enjoy today’s piece!
Wannabe pirates, fine leather jackets and three-headed monkeys. I’ve been a fan of these things since finding The Secret of Monkey Island as a nine-year old. After being gifted an Amiga 500 by my parents for Christmas that year, the first game I chose to play on it was one which came on floppy disks in a box with an image that caught my attention: a mysterious looking skull, fierce-looking pirates and a young blonde hero brandishing a sword. It was clear to me back then that adventure awaited inside.
That was the beginning of a lifelong love-affair with point-and-clicks and video games with strong narratives. I’d played other titles before on our Commodore 64 and NES but nothing so story- or puzzle-focused; and The Secret of Monkey Island became the first I played for myself, all the way through to my end and without much help. I’ve written before about how much that experience influenced me as a gamer and even now, almost three decades later, I can still feel its magic.
Part of the reason for that is thanks to a certain character. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for readers to assume I’m referring to Guybrush Threepwood here because the series charts his transformation from aspiring swashbuckler to competent pirate (sort of). Elaine Marley could be a good role model too because she’s one female protagonist who doesn’t need saving. Or it could be LeChuck, who’s portrayed as a villain but deep down is a romantic who’s simply misunderstood.
But no, the character I’m writing about today is someone who doesn’t get as much screen-time as the main trio but still has a big impact. He made his first appearance in The Curse of the Monkey Island and popped up in the following titles after winning players over with his personality. There’s always something useful to be learnt from him even though his teachings are hidden beneath a layer of comedy, and his words of wisdom have made him one of my favourite video game protagonists.
Who am I talking about? None other than Murray.
He may be just a skull but he’s not just a skull. The victim of a tragic accident, his skeleton was blasted to smithereens by a stray cannon ball while working as a member of LeChuck’s Army of the Undead. But rather let this hold him back he turned it into the opportunity he’d been waiting for: to conquer the land of the living and become its demonic overlord. He doesn’t let the fact he doesn’t have a body stop him from seeing himself as an object of pure evil and dreaming of spreading chaos throughout the Caribbean.
I might not be a diabolical cranium or have dreams of taking over the world but I do know what it’s like to have to overcome an obstacle that’s standing in front of your goals. I was the only girl in my computing class at college and when I started working as an administrator in IT around 15 years ago, there weren’t a huge number of women in the industry. I had to fight to make my colleagues take me seriously and give me a chance to prove I could do more than schedule their meetings and organise their invoices.
When those opportunities did come, I took a tip from Murray and made the most of them. He travelled around the Tri-Island area soaking up all that the world had to offer; and I worked my way up through the levels of IT role while learning as much as I could from each experience. Whenever he needed a bone to support him, he asked a pirate to pick him up so he could bite them and then use theirs; and I learned to ask for advice from mentors whenever I needed a push in the right direction.
I eventually became qualified as an IT best-practice expert after a lot of hard work but at the beginning of 2019, I realised I needed a change in direction. Murray yet again came to the rescue with his philosophy of adopt, adapt and overcome. He didn’t put his skull in the sand after his first encounter with Guybrush and instead amended his plan to ‘stride’ through the gates of hell. Similarly, I set about trying to move into a more technical role where I could finally start learning how to code.
When the chance came I grasped it with both hands (sorry Murray) and I’ve now been a database engineer for around a year. There’s still got a long way to go in my new career but I’m resolute in succeeding. Sometimes all you need is a plan, a certain amount of determination, a positive mental attitude and willingness to take a few risks to get somewhere new – whether that be a different career, or a Caribbean island where you’re going to hatch your plan to become a demonic overlord.
Everyone has it in them to be a powerful evil force and a harbinger of doom, regardless of who and what they are. Murray is one skull who’s got his s**t together; maybe we just need to embrace our demonic sides and be a little more like him sometimes.
Adventure Map! *FINISHING UP!*