By Tom Chick

June 15, 2001

We're going to play the new Dune RTS this week. Trevor is giving Charlie a tutorial in a quick one-on-one LAN game while everyone else watches.

"Why don't my guys attack your guys?" asks Charlie as a mass of his little infantry slogs across the desert, directly into a wall of withering gunfire. "Jesus, It's Gallipoli all over again."

"You have to stop moving them," Trevor explains, "If they're walking somewhere, they won't shoot. You've played Rogue Spear; you know how hard it is to shoot while you're moving."

"Then why don't they stop moving and shoot? I thought you said these Sandukins were elite troops." He says 'sand-DUKE-ins', as if it were the name of a flaky white fish served on a bed of long-grain rice.

"They're called Sardaukar," Trevor insists. He's a big Dune fan. He told me he once he tried to strain his own sweat through a coffee filter to see what life as a Fremen would be like. When he started explaining that urine was sterile, that you could drink it, I told him I didn't want to hear any more.

"What's that word?" Charlie points at something on the screen.

"Tleilaxu," Trevor says firmly. It's a word he's obviously said out loud before. 'Kwisatz Haderach' and 'Bene Gesserit' would also probably roll right off his tongue.

"It looks like an anagram for 'laxative'."

"Look, I didn't make this stuff up. It's from the movie."

"I thought you said it was from a book."

"That's what I meant. It's a movie from a book. I can't believe you've never heard of Dune."

Trevor is the sort of guy who makes a Dr. Who reference in a room full of people -- normal people -- and then rolls his eyes at me when he's the only one who gets it. 'Can you believe these people?' he seems to be saying.

Of course, Charlie isn't really a hardcore gamer, so it's not surprising he doesn't know anything about Dune. He's already made all the requisite jokes about harvesting spice ("What are we going to do, make a sauce? Bake a cake?"), windtraps (he calls them "windbags" as in, "I don't have enough power so I need more windbags"), and the flapping wings on the ornithopters ("I don't know a lot about physics, but I know that's not how airplanes work").

Charlie isn't even much of a geek; he only has email at work. He's an account executive at an ad agency and he drives an expensive boring car with one of those chirping car alarms. He's married to the daughter of the vice president of Nestle. He has season tickets to things like symphonies.

Five years ago, Trevor got a job as a LAN admin at the ad agency where Charlie works. The job lasted less than a month before Trevor got fired for deleting some artwork for a Nabisco pitch to make room to install Quake on all the machines. But before he left, he'd gotten Charlie hooked on first person shooters. Now Charlie comes to Shoot Club with the rest of us geeks.