The Way of the (virtual) Warrior

~ Breon Guarino

It’s been a long hard path. It really has. For some reason, I find myself hearing from students around me that my struggles for mastery are misguided and unnecessary. There are those that would argue that I am “wasting my time” or “not setting up my priorities properly.” There are those that might assume that I am not performing my duties as a student in the proper manner.

Bah! Fie on them! What is Calculus to me, a minor deity in my own right? What hold could the pitiful mental thrusts of General Chemistry hope to have? My mind has been strengthened in close combat with the Mind Flayers of the Illithids! I have stared into the maw of Elder Beholders and survived! I have championed causes and fought at the forefront of dozens of campaigns across a dozen more planes than this one! Surely such paltry foes are no match for my might!

Is it so wrong to find the dulcet tones or gunfire soothing? Is it so terribly strange to savor the sound of close combat through the medium provided by my computer? In so many ways, gaming actively has boosted certain aspects of my personality, but I willingly grant that my education may have suffered in others. I find the level of focus attained when striving to target a distant opponent thrilling.  It’s such a lovely combination of skill and luck, demanding no personal character development. The objective, for once, is simple and easy to grasp; I possess a weapon, and my opponent possesses a weapon, and I must damage my opponent until they are no longer able to wield that weapon effectively in an offensive manner.

In short, I must kill them. Simple, isn’t it? It just warms my heart, how simple it is.

This simplicity contrasts quite sharply with the ever-daunting task of optimization problems in calculus. I don’t want to be bothered with it, in all seriousness. If it was a piece of nigh-indecipherable literature that had to be read completely by the end of the week, that would be one thing. I would have fun with that, honestly. That is an objective that I can throw myself at willingly. Calculus…simply is not. It gets more difficult to focus on the calculus work when I think about how I could be easily focusing on anything more enjoyable. I can empty a figurative magazine of bullets into calculus and see it rise up again like the Flood, and when I’ve expended all of my mental ammunition it seems to laugh for a moment before gathering all of my hopes and eating them. It EATS them. It slaughters them like animals and DEVOURS them.

With that said, I’ve learned several things during my time as an actively gaming student, and all this experience is moving towards leveling up and upgrading my stats. I’m done letting myself shift the focus away from my work so easily; after all, it’s better to work towards goals that I enjoy achieving that will aid me in return. Oh, and forget calculus. Seriously, truly, deeply, forget calculus.  I’m SO done with calculus. Calculus is a Mind Flayer in its own right, and it is only proper that one would withdraw in the face of an opponent that one has no reason to face. Courage and temperance must be taken in equal measures, after all.

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