The Place of Video Games During Finals Season

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. What should be a wonderful and beautiful time of Christmas music and holiday cheer is spoiled by the crushing realization that we all have a lot of work to do before we can enjoy the seasonal cheer. I find the behavior of many people very interesting during this time of year. Some folks seem to maintain a quasi-cheery attitude, knowing that they’ve done this before and they’ll do it again. To them, worrying only doubles the pain, so what’s the point of getting too wrapped up in your studies? On the other hand, some people are quite open about how much they’re struggling. It’s some kind of odd coping mechanism, I think. This (false) dichotomy, though, has shown me one rather interesting thing about the use of video games during this time of the year.

A very retro Christmas to all

For the “chiller” group, as I will call them, they keep most of their habits the same, in terms of leisure. Sure, they’ll devote more time than usual to their studies, but they still find time to game, watch some Netflix, or go to the gym. I think this group tends to do better in the long run. Go ahead, search if it’s better to take breaks while studying, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find some good data that suggests we do better sectioning off our work in to chunks, rather than punishing our brain for 8 hours straight. Even my pre-med roommate finds time to play some mobile games in between his intense biology slides. I’m certainly not saying that you should devote this weekend to beating every side quest of Skyrim (ha), but it might not be the worst thing to knock out one.

To all you “thrillers” who lock yourselves in Stevenson for 12 hours on the weekend, only emerging for food and water, take some time during this final season and try out some sort of quick breaks. Even if it’s to check social media or listen to a few songs, try giving your brain a break to synthesize everything that it’s taken in. I was once like you, I had a lot of internal guilt to overcome when I would enjoy some leisure time. I told myself that I was wasting time that I would need to work. Give it a shot, though. I think you’ll be surprised at how much stronger your work will be when your brain isn’t a heaping pile of mush.


Faerie Land

I realize there’s no blog due today, but I just got done with a bunch of homework and I decided I needed a break. So I drew out the map of Faerie Land. Or rather, how I perceived Faerie Land when reading Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.


I realize its kind of empty, but that’s because that’s all of Faerie Land that I have read…so far. This was physically and emotionally exhausting. I have a whole new respect for Tolkien.

Bigger image here:

“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.