In middle school (this was 1995 or 1996) I got super into a multiplayer game called Attack, Retrieve, Capture (ARC). ARC was a 2D capture-the-flag game where you controlled a small spaceship that shot lasers or missiles with the click of a mouse. You were either on the green or red team. I chose the green team whenever possible because they had appealingly round ships, while the red team piloted evil-looking spiky things. My screenname was “Superdude.”

If you were good enough at ARC you could join a clan. The clans had really terrible names; one of the best was Saucey Nipples. I was probably good enough to join a clan but I never did. I probably spent as much time playing ARC as most people in a clan, but the idea of joining one made me uneasy. It was like a secret life. Even the word “clan” seemed like something never meant to be spoken out loud. How could I explain it to my friends or family?

So I kept playing solo. This made me sort of an outcast among the ARC hardcore, some of whom I grew to know fairly well. They appreciated my skill but couldn’t understand why I didn’t joined a clan. I never got around to explaining it to them.

Adrian Chen is a staff writer for The New Yorker, a founder of IRL Club, and an editor at Useless Press.