“Crack for Kids”

Throughout this semester, I feel as though I have done a good job of not getting sucked into gaming and keeping my priorities straight.  I have consistently put academic, social and athletic goals before any downtime that I devote to gaming.  I must say, I am a fan of video games.  Something about them makes for a very enjoyable experience.  The  feeling of becoming something I’m unable to be–a football star, gangster, medieval knight, mage, general, soldier, pilot, Italian plumber (etc. etc.)–is pretty damn cool.  And well done games, those with beautiful graphics, a good game mechanic and a decent story, make themselves very enjoyable to play.  I don’t consider myself a gamer, but the allure of video games does have a certain pull on me.

And a few years ago it had an even greater pull on me.  I think my first experience with video games was my uncle’s SNES, way back in the old days.  He used to live with us so it was kept at our house for him to play when he wanted.  But my brother and I also played.  My favorite game ever was Top Gear, a little racing game that featured race tracks all over the world in wonderful 16-bit color.  From there my love of video games grew with each new technology that came out, and I would spend more and more time with them.  Middle school and early highschool were probably the worst times, the eras in which my dad so lovingly coined the phrase “crack for kids” to refer to video games.  I would blow off social events and homework to play video games for countless hours, if only to achieve what I can now see are meaningless prizes.  Luckily for me (and my not so distant future), I was good enough at school that I could skate by without doing homework.  At Vanderbilt the story is a little bit different.  Nowadays I try to keep a healthy distance from them, and keep the time I do spend to a very limited amount.  But I’ve matured.  Later in highschool I played less and less as I got older and became more interested in soccer–and came about the realization that if I did nothing but play video games, I would not have any friends. 

I also realized that as cool as it is to pretend you are anything a video game character is, you don’t actually become it, and never will.  You won’t become anything  playing video games.. well, except fodder for the huge gaming industry, where the real talent lies.  As of today, no one with any capital you coming your way cares anything about how much or how well you play videogames.  I don’t mean to take anything away from the designers, however.  The skill they employ to create videogames can easily be compared to that of an artist.  Playing, however, is purely recreational and, despite the allure of video games, should be kept in check.

So far this semester I’ve been good about staying on top of school work and keeping the goofing-off with video games to a minimum.  That’s how I would like it to stay and hopefully, because of my maturity, it will stay that way.

A Definition I’m Com-fort-able With

Jake Karlsruher

“The outer defenses are wea—

“The outer defenses will hold!  You need to start planning the counter offensive and stop worrying about the integrity of the base”

“Yes, sir, on it sir.  The enemy approaches!  Prepare for defensive measures?”

“Yes lieutenant, ready the archers.”

“Archers Ready!”

“…Brace yourself….”

WHO WANTS MILK AND COOKIES?

Andrew the Conqueror, my older brother, poked his head out of our blanket and cushion fort; he was mortified. “MOMMM!  NOT NOW!”

Andrew and I never played cops and robbers.  We played Fort.  I loved Fort; it got me through 11th grade.  Kidding.  But seriously, Andrew and I defended that Fort with our lives. Were we participating in a game, or was this simply play?  Or was it a desperate attempt to fill our heads with illusions of grandeur because we were too afraid to talk to girls?  It was probably the latter, but we’ll focus on the first question: Game or Play?

For something to be a game, it must only follow one rule: there are rules.  All parties involved in playing the game must agree on these rules.  Once these rules are broken, the game collapses, and the activity is now play.  If the America is a Gamespace, then play would be chaos.  Forget that entire chart we saw in class.  The only true indication of a game is whether there are rules.   Fort is game: Andrew and I knew we had to be in the Fort at certain hours of the day, the Fort must be defended at all costs, and leaving the Fort would result in certain death.  There was no quantifiable outcome but there were two parties agreeing on a rule set.   A kid jumping on a trampoline is play, but it is not a game.  There are no rules governing how the kid must jump.

I can hear Thumser complaining about it now.  “But the trampoline could be game where your knees are one person and the trampoline is the other and you all agree on gravity and pain.”  My brilliant opinions only work if you use true definitions and don’t stretch the truth.  By stretching definitions I could prove Winston Churchill was a carrot (http://www.koschei.net/blog/archives/000695.html) or that girls are truly the Root of all Evil. homerthinkingAs the real Homer once said “Facts are meaningless.  You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true. ”

proof_that_girls_r_evilInstead, defining a game requires reason.  I think of it as my Big Lebowski Theorem (“This isn’t Nam, Donnie.  There are rules”).  Are there truly rules on which all people agree?  If yes, you’re in a game.  If not, then it is just play…or Nam.