Cavafy’s “Ithaca” and The Video Game Arms Race

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Don’t get caught up in this damn World of Warcraft arms race,” he told me. “You’ll only lose sight of why you enjoy the game in the first place.”

He was referring to the fact that in World of Warcraft, a game that we played together when I was younger, the developers constantly released new, awesome material that required your constant attention and dedication in order to master. A lot of this came in the form of high end “gear,” or equipment that would grant bonuses to a player’s abilities. Once you got towards the end of the new content, you might get diminishing returns on your investment in terms of stats, but it was still noticeable, and a lot of players still grind out countless hours for the sake of becoming a tiny bit stronger. I was one of those players.


Though my old account has long since been deleted, this is some of the stuff I was working with. You tend to have a lot of free time when you get grounded as a teenager, and oh lord could WoW use every bit of it. There was a never-ending stream of items, equipment, skills and mounts to obtain and master. I’d spend a lot of time going through the same dungeons and events over and over in the hopes of getting some gear that I hadn’t gotten yet, half for my own abilities in the game and half for pride.

My dad would notice my reaction when I’d lose some sort of achievement that I wanted, and he’d usually get on me for not enjoying the game itself. You know, cuz that’s kinda the point of a game. I’d spend most of the time that I played with my dad looking forward to simply getting loot, losing track of what was most valuable about that time with my dad.

One of our favorite dungeons was called Karazhan; it was an old castle filled with all sorts of magic creatures and haunting spirits who held strong items and fun challenges.

This is but one of them, as our heroes attempt to defeat the actors in the play. The play changes between three random options, and in this one they try to defeat the Big Bad Wolf as he spontaneously chases random members of their party, who are designated as “Little Red Riding Hood,” all the while screaming “Come here little girl!”

Totally fun, right? I missed out on a lot of the pure enjoyment of the game because I was too concerned with the end result. Another good example comes from the final boss of Ulduar, an ancient Dwarven city dedicated to the mystical Titans who created this world.


Besides the innovative combat, the stunning location and graphics, and the numerous challenges present for players, Ulduar offers some of the most expansive and immersive lore that I’ve ever encountered as a gamer. Hours of gameplay must be dedicated to reach this point, and we are given a lot of incredible story line along the way that culminates in our showdown with Yogg-Saron. This encounter is both extremely challenging and totally fun, but I spent most of this time worrying about what loot he was going to drop.

Had I not, I might have enjoyed the game as it was meant to be played. I couldn’t tell you now all the stuff that my characters possessed in this game, or even how much time I spent acquiring it. However, I can’t describe the nostalgia that I got when looking up videos to put in this blog. Each of them brought back individual memories with my dad, or they reminded me of how much fun I had immersing myself in one of the great games of our time.

This is all to say that we should take the message of Cavafy’s “Ithaca” to heart, especially in gaming. If we start to stress too much about the end goals of the game, or keep chasing minor achievements and a minuscule leg up on other players, then we start to lose the reason that we play games like this in the first place.

The Minions of King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters

The characters overall struck me as pathetic and childish. Specifically, the most pathetic characters were the supporting characters to Billy Mitchell specfically, Brian Kuh. I felt so bad for him that he was being used by Billy Mitchell as a go between to tell him Steve Wiebe’s scores. He seemed like a little minion and all he wanted was to get to the end screen and even in the end he did not get to the end screen by himself and the great Billy Mitchell was supposed to be teaching him.

I didn’t like that Billy Mitchell could see the videos of Steve Wiebe playings and getting to 1 million and he probably used that in order to “beat” Steve’s score. The relationship that Billy Mitchell had with Walter Day made them quickly accept his score and that whole experience was problematic with me. Also, the childishness of the Billy Mitchell calling his friend and not going to eat at a certain restaurant because Steve Wiebe showed up.

Overall, the World of Arcade gaming to me seemed childish with a bunch of grown men and women fighting and partnering up like small children on a play game. I am not sure if this is a accurate portrayal of the gaming arcade world or if it is just how the documentarians chose to show it. However, that is what I felt about the world of gaming after experiencing King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters.



Of Nether Rays and Infernals

When I heard the blog topic for this week, my mind jumped in excitement at all the possibilities. However, this elated feeling quickly evaporated once I realized how difficult the choice would be for me, making me carefully consider the pros and cons of all of my top choices. Eventually, I decided upon my final choice, the world of World of Warcraft.

To begin, I choose this world partially because of my persistent fascination with medieval-style combat, weaponry, and magic.  To live in world that contains all of these features and relies heavily upon them would be extremely exciting and consistently interesting.  In addition, I would enjoy practicing combat skills all day long, attempting to get stronger and better each day.

However, I mainly choose this world for another reason. The world is constantly in peril from nefarious forces such as dragons, the undead, and a legion of infernal monsters. Even though this may not seem to be a very appealing world to live in, I believe that the inherent danger in the world makes it all the more appealing to me. To elaborate, the inherent danger would create a strong sense of purpose and appreciation for life, something I believe has been somewhat lost in modern society. Everything one would do in this world could affect the fate of the entirety of the world, giving true meaning to this life. Moreover, fighting against the evil legions assists the citizens of the world, bettering their lives and making their world a safer place. This sense of duty and helping others would be very rewarding, especially because one would be saving their lives rather than simply helping them.

On a lighter note, it would also be extremely fun to be able to fly on giant, winged creatures like the dragons and nether rays available in this world.  Although we can fly on airplanes in our world, it wouldn’t even compare with the thrill of flying on a colossal beast barreling through uncharted lands. Speaking of uncharted lands, this world is filled with dangerous, beautiful, and widely varying landscapes that contain a plethora of interesting creatures. If I were able to explore these regions in my own body, I doubt much could compare to the thrill of finding new and exciting places everywhere I went.

Last, the ability to become a craftsman in a variety of magical trades appeals to me greatly. I wish I had the ability to enchant an item to make someone stronger, or craft potions at a whim that would help others succeed at difficult tasks.  If only this were possible, I would choose to live in this magical world in a heartbeat.


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

My Gaming Relationship Status

My home gaming experience:

My parents got stuck with the most difficult of all children. Despite their mild mannered respectful personalities, my were those parents who were always being called by the school for some reason or the next. While I am not sure what their guiding philosophy for me would have been had my brothers been more docile, I was quickly marked as the “easy child” and my parents had a unique way of raising me. They never put any pressure on me to do my homework or to go to sleep early, as long as I did what I had to do I had my freedom. Except when it came to gaming. I started playing WOW when I was in 7th grade and it was probably the worst thing that ever happened to me. I would play and play for hours on end. Socially I still never missed a beat, and I always did enough work to get a B+/A- but never pushed my self. Homework was done as fast as possible so I could get to the computer. When my parents tried to get me to stop I would argue with them time and again “I am doing fine, I have friends and good grades, nothing is out of control” but it was. I was just absorbed and making excuses for myself. My parents tried making me quit, but I would get so angry and upset, and I never got like that, that that they would be weak and I would soon get it back. I finally quit in 11th grade when I woke up and realized that I wanted to get into a good college. I played other games but nothing saps away all of your time like WOW does.  I went back and dabbled in it for a few months after I got into college but quickly felt badly about it and dumped it for good. I am happy to not be addicted going into college.

The problem with the previous paragraph is that it makes it seem as if WOW was all bad, believe me it wasn’t. I had a million good moments and nights I spent smiling behind my keyboard. They are regrettable now, but in the time it was all great fun. One of the funniest bonding experiences I have or maybe ever will have is that one time I went over to a friends house and saw WOW on his computer and asked him whether or not he plays. He told me he used to and quit and I lied and said the same thing. A few months later, after a party I had a bunch of buddies over, and because I had known them for almost a year (this was the end of freshmen year) I decided to let them in on the fact that I had been playing WOW all along. After showing off my character, my gear etc… My friend said “move over”. I gave him the chair and he logged onto a character, also of top level but with all of the gear that takes WEEEEEKS to get. The highest level everything. He started playing PVP and he was the rogue I always wanted to be. My other friend there also logged onto his lesser account. We had all been playing wow secretly for over a year. We then made a guild, arena teams the works and played multiple games together for the rest of high school including League of Legends, Halo and Heroes of Newerth. We no longer hid our gaming and everyone in the school knew about it. It was much better like that.

A sadder ending story is that of my cousin. My cousin was a gamer, and I introduced him to WOW because I thought it would be good for both us if we played together. It destroyed him. He got better than me in under 5 months and his grades slipped drastically. He was lying to his parents that he was working when he actually playing wow almost every day and into the wee hours of the night. When he got to college and raw brain power could not make him pass, he failed out and then went on a study abroad program and failed that to. He worked in McDonalds for 5 months and is trying to study abroad again. We will see how that works out. I watch his account to make sure he doesn’t play now, because he lies even to me, but it seems he has replaced it with other games. I am not sure if he will ever break his addictive habit and it is hard having to be the one to watch out for him rather than watch him play.

All in all, my parents were right in trying to stop me, my friends awesome for being like me in such a strange way, and my cousin… ruined. It has been a part of my social life with my friends, and part of my alone time at home. It has stressed the relationship between me and my parents, and made a different one of me and my cousin.  It has definitely impacted my life.

– Kinetix