A Letter to the Professor:

November 5, 2009

Dearest Professor Hall,

I am writing you with deep regret to inform you that my experience of reading Renaissance poetry has been horrific beyond belief. The word on the street is that this Edmund Spencer guy is a genius and writes better than Shakespeare, but boy did I think I was a bad speller; this guy is terrible. That Cambridge degree must not have been worth much back then. I feel like I am reading one of my litter sisters’ 1st grade papers except this one rhymes better.

I do not understand why he has to write like that anyhow. Why cant poetry people just straight up say what they mean? He makes everything so much more confusing and difficult by trying to make everything rhyme, and like every three words is an allusion to this, or an analogy about that. No one actually enjoys reading stuff like that except for maybe super English nerds like Professor Clayton. But what average 18 or 19 year-old would enjoy being confused for two hours trying to decipher the English version of Morse code?

Sure Professor Hall, I know you are a smart guy and all, but just like we [the entire student body] feel, I’m sure you could think of far better things to do with your life than attempt to read the worlds hardest poetry. And another thing, why is the book so freaking long? I mean I know we are not reading the whole thing in class but I could kill people with this book it is so huge. Where someone can find the motivation to write poetry for 10 years straight is quit impressive though.

I have to admit, the idea as a whole of each book being about a certain virtue. That is pretty cool. It kind of reminds me of the horror movie called SE7EN where a serial killer is out to get characters that represent each of the seven deadly sins. Including the horror part that is how I imagined reading this Renaissance poetry would be!

But you know what Professor Hall? Thank goodness for IT people like you because even though I might want to throw my computer across the room sometimes, without technology I would not have been able to use the amazing GOOGLE search engine or SparkNote this crazy piece of work as soon as I become totally lost. So thanks for all your hard work and I hope that since you’re a tech person you never have to go through this misery like we do.

All the best,


LOVE-HATE Relationship With English 115F

In attempt to veer away from another rant about how technology is out to ruin my life, I would like to announce that World of Wordcraft English 115F has impacted my life whether I like it or not.

In a meeting with my scholarship advisor Dean Dever at the beginning of this year, she asked me what was one of my favorite classes so far. I tried to describe to her my love-hate relationship with my writing seminar class. I explained how I have always had a passion for writing and that when reading the course catalogue, 115F was one of the few English based courses that appealed to me. As hard as it may be to believe, English 115F was my FIRST choice. I was determined to prove to people that I did not need to know anything about gaming in order to be successful in the class but I was also terrified when I found out we discussed in CIRCLES! Who would have thought that a seminar class would sit in a circle?!

This love for writing but discomfort for having to speak out loud about a topic I am so unfamiliar with, and having to feel 32 eyeballs stare me down in the process, has been such a challenge for me. And now it turns out that even my writing is not that great either because I am not able to follow a certain format when I structure my sentences. I make “careless mistakes” in my writing when really that is just my style of writing. It does not fit a certain format because I do not want it to, not because I am sloppy.

Nonetheless, I still make it class as often as I can, I do the reading, I write the blogs…but there is still something missing. I have no motivation to speak up in class because I am so intimidated by everyone else’s insightful thoughts I feel as if mine are not worthy. That feeling of knowing you are the slacker, or loser in the group just hurts my spirits even more. I am like the last kid to get picked on the dodge ball team because I am too small or weak. The class itself is not a snoozefest but everyday I try to go in with a positive attitude to participate, I come out with my head down because I once again did not accomplish my goal. And then I go on like a 15-minute rant about whatever it was we were talking about in class to Tyler as we walk to our next class together. And he just thinks I am crazy for not being able to say everything I just said IN CLASS.

I did not come to Vanderbilt to be a failure or the weakest link in all my classes. And though the gaming itself has not been a distraction to me since I am also usually the last one to even get my technology working, the class itself has affected other parts of my life. It makes me question my talents and whether or not I belong here. It makes me wonder if I was ever good enough in the first place to come to a school like Vanderbilt. It has made me think that maybe I do not want to major in English after all. It is unfortunate that this class would have such a negative affect on me but it is simply the truth. Though I may be good at hiding it, no matter what grade I end up with at the end of this course I will still be proud of myself.

Proud for not withdrawing from the course or switching out into something easier. Proud for continuing to go to class despite how much I felt it would be pointless and that nobody would notice anyway. Proud that even though I have this love-hate relationship with a course as a first semester freshman, I am not going to give up.


The Questions Continue: Can A Game Be Art?

Can a dolphin swim in water? Of course it can. Can a game be art? Of course it can. There is more to art than using paintbrushes and charcoal; there is a huge spectrum of how art can be expressed, from drawing, to writing, to designing, to cooking, to applying make-up, to even sex! You get the picture. The definition of what a word means should never limit someone from being able to express him or herself. Art is about using your imagination, creativity, and most of the time you also need talent.

In a game, designers defiantly have to use their talents, creativity and imagination, because nine times out of ten, they are creating a world no one has ever seen before, and have to come up with new and exciting ways to appeal to their audience. If every game out there had the same setting, the same types of guns, and only one character to choose from, what would be fun about that? Game designers today have joined forces in creating the most compelling, and realistic, game experience there can possibly be, and they do a damn good job at it too.

The story line, the details, the graphics, the color scheme, the flexibility to go where you want in the gamespace, all of these are artistic examples of what a game entails (plus many more things I am sure). Without these artistic elements there wouldn’t be anything fun about a game.

When you look at a piece of artwork you like to feel engaged by what you see at and interested. The same idea applies to a game. Sure back in the day games hardly had any intense graphics are amazing plots, but life was also a lot simpler back then. With the way technology has progressed over the years, some day soon there will be game systems you can set up in your living room that you can three-dimensionally play; how cool does that sound? And the three-dimensional setting will never have a one-dimensional concept. It will be insightful, interactive, and unique to any other type of game out there.

Gaming in itself can also be a form of art! Sure it’s for a bunch of nerds but who’s to say they don’t have the talent to move their thumbs at the speed of light, or shoot 300 bullets in less than a minute? The beauty of a game is you never know what high score your going to get or how many levels your going to pass in one night. The idea of playing a game is doing it for fun, but to analyze a game for its graphics and artistic concepts, well that in it self is a different art as well. But the over all answer to all of our questions is: YES, of course it can be art!


To Play, Perchance to Battle – Ay There’s the Rub!

Before fully grasping the concepts of the Metaverse in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, I imagined the Metaverse as a simple game with small characters similar to a colorless version of the Super Mario Bros. I thought of the game as cartoonish, bleak, and hardly three-dimensional.

This however, is the beauty of imagination.

Though my thoughts where way off target from Stephenson’s particular viewpoint of his own novel, (and everyone else’s viewpoint for that matter) who’s to say my imagined Metaverse wasn’t a well enough assumption?

No one can! My own thoughts and imagination are just as good as the nerdy kid who sits across from me, who thinks he figured out the meaning of life at age 9. I’m entitled to my own thoughts despite how unsound they may be.

I’ve always considered myself to be a dreamer; so living in an imaginary world is very common for me. Like every teenage girl, I liked to dream up my future down to my kids names and birth dates; it’s a chick thing! This is why reading about combat with swords and spears in Snow Crash, is far more engaging to me than virtual combat in LOTRO.

Now that I understand that the Metaverse is actually more of an outgrowth of the Interent and is a fully immersive three-dimensional virtual world, I now imagine the place more like The Matrix or maybe even like Star Wars. (What, I need some type of reference point!)

I imagine the swards and spears clinking together the way lightsabers do, and everyones characters are made out of a million different numbers. The idea of being able to dream up my own battlefield of the Metaverse is simply far more appealing then playing a game like LOTRO where I am limited to killing one thing at a time, using one weapon at a time, and living in one virtual battlefield that has already been designed for me.

Though it is compelling and engaging to battle in LOTRO, (my little hobbit looks so cute taking on the giant Spider) I would much rather have a battle in my head without any boundaries. I can always throw in some other random characters that aren’t even in the book and out of nowhere start slaying dragons. Because that boys and girls is the beauty of imagination; to read, perchance to imagine – ay there’s no rub!


The Uninsigtful Blog Unrelated to the Topic!

LOTRO, LOTRO, LOTRO…where do I begin to discuss the Prologue and Epic Book 1 quest in this game? Oh that’s right! NO WHERE, because I still haven’t been able to downloaded it! So far the process of being in this class with a MacBook has been the biggest pain and frustration of college to date. No one is to blame except for my lack of technological skills along with MacBook’s lack of corporation with Windows computer games. It is absolutely ridiculous.

The way it was once described to me, Windows are like the freeway, and Mac’s are like the toll way. Both are used to get you to the same location in the same amount of time, but only certain people can ride the toll way. And no I don’t mean a certain race or class level is allowed to buy a MacBook, I simply mean that MacBook’s are designed to be more selective and elite. Windows are a more general and basic computer system.

I love my MacBook, probably more than my little brother, but with my luck, of course I ended up in the writing seminar class that only works well for Windows/PC users. This competition between computer systems reminds me of McKenzie Wark and Gamer Theory 2.0. Wark believes that American society today does not work as a team. Everyone is always competing to be bigger and better than everyone else. This is how I see the rival between Windows and Mac to be.

MacBook’s appear to be lighter, thinner, and more aesthetically appealing, where as Windows are bulkier, heavier and user friendly. Though it is all based on matter of opinion as well as what you plan to actually use your computer for. Apparently, Windows works better for computer games. Who knew? I believe Mac’s to be better for using programs such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop because the quality makes the pictures sharper and clearer. Either way, two great computer systems that have been around for such a long time and are constantly developing and changing and growing, what do you think could happen if the two morphed their powers together into a Super Computer from heaven?

Think about it? This would cause peace between the two companies as well as, peace between my MacBook and sanity. I’m pretty sure there is some type of economical problem with this utopian computer world I’m trying to make, but a girl can dream can’t she?

All I’m saying is, once you go Mac, you don’t ever want to go back! Ok, that’s not really what I’m trying to say. I just wish there was something I could do about being able to download LOTRO onto my computer without having to spend an extra $150 and go through the process of downloading a hundred different things onto my hard drive before I can get it all up and running smoothly. It’s frustrating and I needed some place to vent.

I find the world created and written by Tolkien to be ethereal, magical, imaginative, original, ingenious and inspiring. But without having downloaded or played Lord of The Rings Online yet, I’m afraid my insight about how the two compare will not be too helpful.


A Board Game is Forever!

The Game of Life… the classic board game played from high school graduation to retirement. Throughout my youth, the game would sometimes give a sense of direction to where my real-life was heading. What usually brought me out of my fantasy world, was when I’d draw a card for my occupation and become a doctor, then I’d draw a card for my salary and its $20,000 a year. The idea of being able to play out my entire life in less then an hour was quite mindboggling for the average 9 year-old. There is absolutely no strategy or skills needed to play this game, except maybe knowing how to read and count. It’s pure luck based on the number you spin and even if you don’t retire first, there is always a chance you could still win if you ended up with more LIFE Tiles then everyone else.

LIFE brought out a new dimension of thinking for kids like me who grew up in the 90’s. With any board game I ever played, the real fun was being able to use my imagination as if I was on the board myself jumping from square to square. I imagined myself weaving through Candy Cane Forest in Candy Land, or getting thrown in Jail during Monopoly. I was fascinated by the idea of going to college, getting married, and having my first kid all in under 5 spins of the wheel. 

Now fast forward to the new millennium, technology is booming and kids like my younger brothers and sister could careless about using their imagination. Why would they want to when they have awesome graphics on their new console game that they play religiously every day after school? Their eyesight is becoming worse as they stare into the television set for hours; their thumbs are getting arthritis at a young age from using the controller for so long; their brains are being manipulated into thinking that violence, shooting, killing, and robbing people are all fun to play and watch.

I think it’s great that technology and multimedia have reached another level of success and improvements, but seeing a 7 year-old on her cell phone, and a 10 year-old with the lasted ipod touch, and a 13 year-old asking when he’s going to get his first car, only breaks my heart because children are no longer living like children in today’s society. Kids don’t enjoy playing board games anymore, rolling the dice, waiting their turn, reading the cards, moving from space to space all seems too time consuming. Their idea of a game is fast paced; each scene is pre-designed for them, and at the click of letter B on their controller, an entire village is destroyed–that is fun.

The Game of Life… the title alone brings out a whole new understanding of what life really is. The real life we live in is a game. There are rules, there are different paths you take, there are obstacles that might make you loose a turn, there are responsibilities like work, and family, and having a house. If kids like my younger brothers and sister understood that there is more too life than playing a console game through a first-person shooters perspective, they might see one day through their own eyes that life outside a game is just as fun. Technology is always on the rise and getting updated, every year or so you have to buy the new and latest equipment so that you can suitably function the new and latest console games. But the simplicity of a board game is forever, and once technology runs out of great ideas for you, creativity and imagination will always be there to keep you enjoying the real game of life.


Hot Vampires vs. Vapid Hobbits is A No-Brainer to Me

For someone who isn’t a huge fantasy watcher, or reader (or gamer for that matter), I feel like my outside perspective may be of interest to those who share my common burden. Never having read any of the usual childhood loving novels for my own pleasure, or finding any type of online game or video game remotely interesting, along with finding it almost impossible to stay awake through the extended version of an already ridiculously long movie, might make me sound like such a pessimist. Even so, I’m quite fascinated by how passionate people can be about their games, and books and movies.

To me, a movie is just a movie. Whether or not it lives up to the expectations of the book or not, I could care less, I just want to watch a good movie. Passionate People might argue that Lord of the Rings is by far a better made movie then Twilight, because the book is known for being one of the most epic fantasy stories ever created. But think about it, what would you rather watch; 3 ½ hours of a journey that doesn’t end, or an arousing tale of a vampire fighting for the girl he loves?

Yes, I have to admit the realism of Lord of the Rings is quite breathtaking. The directors really knew what they were doing by making the movie look so real and making sure that every scene sent out just the right message for people to comprehend. And yes, I cannot deny that in Twilight, the shimmery glitter does look pretty awful when Edward Cullen’s character steps into the light. But the Twilight budget for filmmaking was far less then LOTR, and overall it is of nearly the same quality. And why doesn’t anyone complain about Elijah Woods over acting huh?

Who knows whether the movie Twilight lived up the standards of the book or not; they’re making the second movie so it obviously couldn’t have been that bad. A Passionate Person might say that I’m stupid to try and compare a movie/book like Lord of the Rings to a movie/book like Twilight because they are obviously on different rungs of the ladder. However, being the underdog in this class due to my lack of knowledge in books movies or games, I find it appropriate to support the epic love story of Twilight for it’s sexy vampires, blood hungry villains, and its massive appeal of a fantastical world to the younger generation.