Coming out of the Closet

Over the past decade or so, society has become drastically more accepting.  Our community has taken huge strides towards eliminating the stigmas associated with being game.  In the Dark Ages, so to speak, it was not uncommon, and perhaps even expected, for openly game people to be beaten up and mercilessly teased just for their life style choices.  Now, however, there are gamers almost everywhere you look.  We are no longer afraid to wear clothing displaying our game pride or to discuss our culture in public.  Even the government is beginning to support us.  Long gone are the days where we gamers were forced to hide in our basements, to lie about our nature.  We have Game Pride now.  I myself am openly game.  I am or have been a member of many gamer community groups, such as LOTRO, WoW, COD, FIFA, etc.  I have gone to various gamer events.  I’m not hiding from myself, nor am I hiding from my peers.

Some people are GAME. Get over it.

However, there is one threshold I have yet to cross on my path to being completely out as a gamer.  I have yet to come fully out to my parents.  They have their suspicions.  The late nights locked up in my room, the suspicious muffled sounds, the scrambling to conceal whatever it was that I was doing moments before they walked in the door.  The truth is, my home is my favorite place to be a gamer.  Why go to all the trouble of going out when I can just bring that world into my bedroom?  This leads to some awkward confrontations with my parents, unfortunately.

“What were you just doing in there?  What was that voice I heard?”

“It was nothing, Dad.  I was just…watching YouTube.”

“Are you sure?  Because that sounded an awful lot like that Cole Phelps character.  You know how I feel about how much time you’re spending with that boy.”

“Daaaaddddd, come on.  I don’t spend that much time with him, it’s not like that.  I’m not…obsessed.  He’s just a good friend, someone I can go to when I’m feeling down or just plain bored.  He’s fun.”

A disappointed, all-too-knowing look, and he leaves me be.  To be honest, I doubt they would care that much if I told them.  They probably already know.  They’re just from a different era.  I do things outside the gamer world, I really do.  In fact, none of my friends are a part of the game life style.  But when I get some alone time, when the world slows down for an afternoon or so, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.  I love my friends, and I love the life I have on the “outside.”  There’s just something about the game community that draws me back time after time.  To be around that many like-minded people is liberating, and I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve spent there for anything.

So here goes.  Mom, Dad:  I game.  I live it, breathe it, love it.  I game, and I’m proud.  So the next time you see me shutting the shades in the family room on a sunny Saturday midmorning, don’t sigh and walk away.  Accept the fact that this is who I am.

I am a gamer.

-Deathly Hallowed

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.


“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.