Me, Myself, and WoW

 

No matter how much I try to hide it or deny it, gaming is a BIG part of my life and, as a result, it fits into a lot of other aspects of my life.  I’ve been playing games ever since I could hold a game controller or type on a keyboard.  Everything from Super Mario on Super Nintendo to the Halos on XBOX 360, I’ve played them all and definitely enjoyed them too.  Don’t get me started on computer games; they get me addicted to a point where I can’t even stop playing (e.g. WoW).

 

Whether you choose to look at console or computer games, it doesn’t make much of a difference, as both have had massive impacts on my life.  For one thing, I would’ve been to a whole lot more parties instead of having to raid Karazhan or farm PvP Honor with my guild/pre-made groups.  I would’ve even had more time to spend with the gf, who simply despises World of Warcraft.  She once stopped talking to me for about a week after I chose to play WoW over going out with her.  But even after taking into account all the lost time that I could have spent with my friends, I have observed many positive effects that being a hardcore gamer entails.  And it is precisely these effects on me that stand to show how gaming has shaped itself to fit into many other facets of my life.

 

In Kuwait, my habitual gaming had an effect on my academic performance.. in a good way, actually.  My vocabulary and English skills improved dramatically and I only have WoW’s clever and creative quests to thank. That’s not to necessarily say that gaming has easily fit into the rest of my life, because it most certainly hasn’t.  There aren’t enough hours in the day for a regular human being to excel at school and in gaming, while also successfully obtaining enough sleep to properly function.  That’s why I had to sort of squeeze gaming in with everything else and make sure my time was juggled around as efficiently as possible.  Gaming has taught me and enabled me to practice the art of time-management, which I believe to be a very valuable skill in life, both in college and beyond.  As for my time at Vandy, I haven’t been here long enough to observe how smoothly gaming is going to fit in with the rest of my activities.  Although the high speed internet is a welcome change from my 800 ping back in Kuwait, I also think that enrolling in the Worlds of Wordcraft seminar has been a pretty darn good first step.

– Jonathan (Doxx)

My Gaming History

I’ve played video games for as long as I can remember. When I think back to a specific period of my life, I can usually remember a video game and system that I was playing at the time. Throughout elementary and middle school I had Sega Genesis, N64, and PS1, in that order. My favorite games on Sega Genesis were the Sonic the Hedgehog games, and Shaq Fu, a kung fu street fighter style game in which Shaquille O’Neal was the main character. When N64 rolled around I got into my first sports games, NFL Blitz and NBA Jam, which were completely unrealistic but equally as fun compared to sports games today. In NFL Blitz I would choose “Da Bomb” play every down, and would usually get a hail mary touchdown out of it. In NBA Jam, I would either play with the Utah Jazz, who had Karl Malone and John Stockton, or the Chiacago Bulls, who had Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant on the team.

In high school I got Gamecube, which I regretted the second Halo came out. I played it once at a friend’s house and went out and bought XBox Halo edition the same day. I’ve played basically only Halo, Halo 2, and the Madden series since then, with Halo 2 being my all-time favorite game. I used to play Halo 2 every weekday night once I got Xbox Live in 10th grade. After a bad day, I found nothing more relieving than to get home and kick some ___ on Live. I never really played it for the social aspect of the game, although it is without a doubt much more satisfying to beat real players on Live than computer bots in other shooter games.

I’ve always had a solid group of friends who were as hooked on Halo 2 as I was. I would always look forward to the Superbowl, not only for the obvious reasons, but also because every year at halftime, we would turn off the game, set up four TVs and four consoles, and play 8 vs. 8 Halo over the system link (yes, this means that I never saw Janet’s wardrobe malfunction). After a 9 month hiatus from Halo 2, during which my Xbox Live inexplicably stopped working, I got to start playing again last thanks to a friend on my floor who hooked up his Live last week.

-Toopac

I’m a gamer.

I’m a gamer. Always have been, always will be.  Gaming doesn’t really fit into my life; my life fits into gaming.  I have grown up playing all types of video games.  When I was young, my mother always tried to regulate my playing of games to a couple of hours a day, but I played longer anyway (I know, what a rebel I am).  I remember one time I got in trouble for something, so my punishment was that I could not play any video games for a weekend.  I honestly forgot that I wasn’t allowed to play, so when my mother came home from work that day, I was playing Cool Spot with our housekeeper. 

They say that you spend 1/3 of your life sleeping.  I would say I have spent 1/8 of my life so far playing video games.  I am now going to split my life in two, that time before I came to Vanderbilt and the short time I have been here.  Before I came, gaming pretty much had a tight hold on me.  In the summer before senior year, some days I would wake up and start playing a video game, then play until I went to bed late that night, taking breaks to eat. I went out and everything; I mean, I don’t think that it really affected my social life (I never skipped a party because I needed to level my character — not that you should care).  When I played “social games” i.e. multiplayer same-console games, I usually had a friend that was obsessed with the game right there with me.  When I played single-player or pc games was when I just sat there for hours on end.

Nowadays, at Vanderbilt, I don’t really play too many video games.  I can go days without playing one (really on the wagon, I know).  Video games, one would think, are fading from my life as it is.  This, however, is not the case come September 25th (mad props, Bungie). 

Okay, now that I have finished the class part of my blog, I will bore you with some of the video games that I have been obsessed with over the years.  The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (beat it 19 times so far), Halo, Halo 2, Diablo II, Fireteam, Starcraft, Final Fantasy Tactics, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Goldeneye, Nox, Elder Scrolls III and IV, Guitar Hero II, Hunter: The Reckoning, any other Zelda besides A Link to the Past, Frogger (for PS), Mario anything, Age of Empires II, Command and Conquer. Anyway, I’m a gamer and those are some of my games.

-Jeff

Proud to be a gamer!

Video games have always been a part of my life.  My earliest memory of playing a game was my family and me playing the “possum game,” it is essentially the same as the quiet mouse game but I refused play the latter one.  We would play games like this in the car… mainly because I was a very talkative toddler and that was the only way to quiet me.  Now the first video games I ever played were The Legend of Zelda, Excitebike, and Duck Hunt on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), and few more such as a Punch-out, but the first threegames mentioned were my favorites.  We then got a Sega Genesis and I played such games as Echo the Dolphin, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Sonic.  Finally the Nintendo 64 came out and I had a blast with Super Mario Kart, the Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, and Super Mario Brothers.  Up to this time I was used to playing a wide variety of games, but when I got my Playstation 1 in 5th grade my taste in games narrowed, to that of RPGs (role-playing games).  After playing Final Fantasy 8 on a Pizza Hut demo I became hooked and I started playing and collecting RPGs for the amazing PS1 console.  I now own almost every single Final Fantasy game that has existed (and most of the soundtracks as well… gotta love Nobuo Uematsu) and many other great RPGs such as Chrono Cross and Xenogears.  When Xbox came out Halo became a favorite, I played that game until Halo 2 came out.  By this time I hadn’t really been exposed to online gaming, but with the advent of Xbox Live and Halo 2 I decided to try it.  Once I started playing Halo online my gaming habits became very concentrated… primaly playing Halo 2 online with friends and enjoying the social atmosphere just as much as owning noobs.  In 10th grade I decided to try out the World of Warcraft, a very successful MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), I thought it was neat and in addition was a nice combination of RPG and online/social elements.  Since then WoW has dominated my play-time, it just feels like no other game can compare to the perfect mix of questing, grinding, PvP and social environment that WoW can provide. 

Video games provide much more than simple entertainment for me.  When I was younger that might have been true, but as my tastes have evolved to include the social Xbox Live and MMORPGs I believe that video games can provide much more than just entertainment.  Socially, online games allow me to meet new people and new cultures; in WoW I have met people from all over the world such as Australia, China, Japan, Europe, and even Sri Lanka.  Video games can also be used as a tool to meet new people.  When I meet someone new in real life, and I somehow know that person plays video games, we automatically have something in common, .  This is certainly true here at Vanderbilt, when I find out that someone is a gamer or plays online games, it is much easier to start up a conversation and it helps to break the ice.  Also when I like to annoy or confound my noob friends I start talking in leet-speek and say such things as “noob”, “leet”, “roflcopter”, “I want to go AOE grind my 36 prot spec pally” and other such jibberish to the layman’s ears.  Although few video games provide any form of academic achievement, I believe that videos help my grades.  Ever since I started playing WoW my grades increased and I think this is due to the fact that I have a nice break from reality whenever I need it.  I never let it overcome me and prevent me from doing my schoolwork, but when I need a break from writing a research paper I can always turn to a fun endorphine-inducing game.  I believe this allows me to return to my work with a clearer and more open mind.  Instead of ruminating over all that has to be done, my mind gets a nice break from reality.  All-in-all I believe video games are beneficial to people, contrary to what many of the older generations think.  I once interviewed an orthopaedic surgeon for a research project and he told me that he firmly believed videos games are great learning tools, and that the doctors from my generation will be much better equipped and much more skilled at fine surgical procedures than older generations because of our experience with hand-eye coordination using controllers with video games.  I am not ashamed to tell people that I play video games because I am proud that I am a gamer. 

-Seth 

Gaming is to social! (a modest disillusionment)

What do you think of when you wonder WHY people play video games? Some assume it a cure for boredom- others a retreat for the socially inept. It may constitute leisure time or lazy time or, especially in my case, a social time. I am a social person. This is true. When I play video games (for the most part) it is a part of or included with some kind of personal interaction- this is what has attracted me so to online games: a seemingly infinite amount of “personal” interaction when it’s usually not possible to be active socially (ie 4:00 am). Sometimes I log on and simply TALK to people I know personally or have met in game and enjoy their conversation- gaming, for me, has become a venue of personal (impersonal?) interaction. For instance, I have a Wii in my room- a piece of equipment i coveted for months. But thrust into this hyper-social, get up and get out college scene it has set nearly untouched in my dorm, excepting the few times I have enjoyed a bit of tennis with my friends. Only when involved with others am I able to enjoy playing a game- without some sort of human interaction there is just no interest.

In this regard I am somewhat disappointed and, at the same time, encouraged. While i have come to respect (though it is strange to say it) the hardcore gamers that master the toughest challenges laid forth by Nintendo, I cannot bring myself to finish a one-player game without some sort of companionship involved. While disappointed that I have missed out on some incredible gaming experiences (Resident Evil:4 has not been touched since i moved in- I simply won’t play unless there is someone with me- a travesty I know) I guess where i am encouraged is that I find true pleasure in the camaraderie that gaming makes possible and the relationships i build by overcoming challenges and enjoying humor involved in gaming with another person. The social isolation of one-player games is, in my opinion. what turns a lot of older people off about gaming- the idea being that time is spent in the “unreal” and true life is missed. But multiplayer games overcome that- a real, true, human connection IS possible digitally and gaming online or on a console with others DOES enhance my life, in a real, literal, personal way: socially. Yes, I enjoy the challenge and yes graphics are fun and yes games let you escape what the real world limits you to into the infinity of imagination, but in the end it is the bonds I make and the growth I experience that makes gaming worthwhile to me.

-Westley Taylor

Gaming’s metamorphosis, in my life and in the mainstream

Ever since I got a Game Boy (the original, thank you) and played Tetris for the first time, I’ve been hooked on games. Games have been a major part of my life since early grade school. I have no allegiance to any one publisher, and have owned a plethora of game systems, ranging from every single Game Boy (original, pocket, color, advance, SP, and the DS), to the woefully underappreciated PSP, to the N64, the Xbox, and now the 360 and Wii. For whatever reason, portable games have always held a special place in my heart, and I will go out on a limb and say that, in my opinion, the Game Boy Advance has the most solid stable of games of any gaming platform outside the PC, and I’ve certainly poured far more hours of my life into it than I want to admit.
But I digress. It’s amazing to me the complete 180 that the reputation of gamers (and, thus, myself) has undergone in the last decade or so. It has not been a gradual process, but a series of starts and stops, a secession of plateaus marked by games so revolutionary or so good that they break into the mainstream. The one that shines earliest in my memory, besides the SNES Mario games, would be Pokémon Red and Blue. Those games were everywhere in the fourth grade, and then the trading card game came out and plunged the children’s entertainment world into chaos. After those games appeared, it was acceptable to be seen in public playing a Game Boy for at least two or three years. The next big, big game I can think of would be Mario 64. I have friends who have an N64 and just that one solitary game.
The next one belongs to the PC, and introduced girls to the wonders of gaming. The Sims rocked the electronic gaming world with the idea of making real life, with its jobs and chores, fun. It seemed ridiculous to the outsider, the non-gamer, that people would ignore real life to play a real life simulation. The next step of introducing the video gaming world to the mainstream, and thus making me just the slightest bit cooler, was the introduction of Halo: Combat Evolved. Never before had a shooter been so intuitive and easy to control, and it helped make all-night gaming sessions popular. Then Halo 2 came out, and the ridiculously full-featured and ahead of its time online gaming allowed single moms in Seattle to play against 9-year old boys in Tokyo, expanding the domain of the average gamer from his/her room to the whole world. Halo 2 was when many of my closest friends were sucked into gaming, making it a lot easier to admit to being a gamer.
However, the game(s) that most changed the way we gamers are looked at is a relatively new series that has exploded in popularity and helped to draw more non-gamers into our realm than any other games to date. I speak, of course, of the monster that has become the Guitar Hero games. These games are universally enjoyed, and have become the (legal) party game of choice. Now, if any random person walks into a room with any kind of game going, the first question is always “Hey, do you have Guitar Hero? I love that game!”
Don’t get me wrong. I love that being a gamer is slowly becoming less uncool in the public’s eye. However, there’s some small part of me that kind of liked being constantly in the underdog, us-against-the-world mindset that is slowly being lost amongst gamers. Oh well. I’m off to scratch that itch with a little Super Smash Bros. Falco… PUNCH!

– Sikatanon

Gaming for Me

Gaming has never really had a substantial place in the mainstream of my life. I consider my experiences in gaming as limited and sporadic. I do thoroughly enjoy gaming and absorbing myself in the excitement of games from time to time. It is however, not a consistent or continuous indulgence. If I happen to come across a game that catches my interests, I will play it, and try to “beat” it (but more than likely fail miserably). I have played video games for a very long time; my first system was a Sega Nomad (Sega’s handheld) and slowly graduated to the Sony Playstation, Playstation 2, and the Nintendo Wii.

As a lad, my parents labeled video games with the term “vidiot games”, need I explain their feelings more? Of course I wasn’t one to argue with my parents and fight a lost battle. I may have been young, but I knew not to fight with Mom or Dad. Gaming was never a recreational event for me. When ever I played, I would be yelled at. Playing video games and minor discipline (which,to a child, is a trauma worse than death itself) always came as a couple, a great example of Ivan Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning. Eventually, I didn’t even bother to play games because I knew that “minor discipline” would stare me in the face as soon as I turned the TV on “input1”. However, time passed, I grew, and became a responsible adolescent/adult. With my priorities straight, I was able to enjoy a game when I desired without experiencing that miserable “discipline” I had previously dreaded.

My lack of experience in the gamer world as a young child never allowed me to pick up the skills needed to conquer games. In fact, I am probably the worst gamer ever to grace the earth. I do thoroughly enjoy watching video games be played by other people. Honestly, I see no difference between playing and watching. I get all the benefits of playing without the hassle of pressing all the buttons. One of my good friends is a REAL GAMER. I’m talking a solid 7 hours a day on Phantasy Star Universe. So, if ever I feel the need to “game”, I walk next door with my bag of Tostitos and Qon Queso sauce and watch the magic of his virtual universe unfold before my eyes. The closest I have ever gotten to that level of obsession with a game was when I purchased Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. I have owned FS1999 FS2002 FS9 and FSX. My experience with flight simulator is where my sporadic indulgence in video games comes in. I would play the simulator for hours at a time, then get bored of it. A month later I would start the game up again and not stop playing it for five days straight, and the process repeated itself. Because I am a licensed pilot nowadays, I play flight sim more frequently, in shorter sittings to brush up on take offs and landings and navigation skills.

I have learned in my short time here at Vanderbilt that there is more to a video game then just playing it. I learned that a video game can be interpreted and analyzed much like a novel can. There is a story to most video games, especially the MMORPG, LOTRO. Analyzing the themes and content of the video game’s story and its graphical representation of the story it tells is something we have begun to do in the writing seminar here at Vandy, and is also something I would never have imagined doing. This experience is just as, if not more, valuable as any experience I have ever had in any English class I have attended. I look forward to learning more about games and their content, and evaluating the future of narrative work.

— Ted Gargano