I know, I know. Summer is over! No more long nights staying up until 8am, no more sleeping all day and doing nothing once you wake up. It sucks, but that’s the way of the world. School is back in session and next week it will for me and my colleagues. The realization that another academic chapter on my life is about to ensue makes me think about how my gaming sessions will be effected. Usually, the first 2 or 3 weeks of school I can play my 360 everyday for at least 4 hours. Once, the homework starts piling on and I start going to my weekly meetings, my gaming sessions get pushed to the weekends. I am a lot more involved now at my institution including working at my current on-campus job. Time management has always been my best friend and is the key to success (that was random, but it needed to be said). All college students have different ways of being an actual student. Some study a lot, most study to little, some go to bed at 11pm, most stay up to 3am. It all depends on what kind of student you want to be. For the purposes of this blog it will be about what kind of gamer I want to be while in school. So, here are a couple of ways I plan to be a productive student as well as keeping my edge as a gamer.

1) Gaming is reward that needs to be earned. I constantly feel guilty if I have an assignment due soon and I am chilling playing a videogame. By using my videogame as its on achievement or trophy that needs to be unlocked, I should be able to keep my work up as well as my gamer stats. 

2) 3-1 rule. For every 3 hours of studying I am going to do an hour of gaming. Gaming relaxes my brain all depending on what I am playing (FPS’s after studying will get you frustrated…campers ruin everything.) I will play Batman: Arkham City or Destiny.

3) Study hard to game even harder! My long gaming sessions usually start are Friday and Saturday nights. If I can end each school week feeling like I studied hard, did most of my work, and overall just feel like I accomplish something then, Game On!

This is my expectation, hopefully this becomes my reality…if not I’m screwed!  

I have seen it many times before, but it hit me even harder this time. What I’m referring you might ask? Well let’s set the scene. On August 15, 2014 a colleague and I had the pleasure to attend the Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions event. Held at the Warner theatre in D.C., my colleague and I were indulging in classic and modern “Pokemon” scores expanding most of the videogames from the franchise. The whole theatre was packed full of fans ranging from the very young to the elderly, from Nintendo fanboys and gals to Xbox and Playstation lovers. The audience were treated to a visual display of scenes from some the games as the orchestra plays with the visual. Now that I have set the scene here is my main intention of this post. As my friend and I walked to our seats we were temporarily blocked by a father and his two kids. The father was haphazardly watching his kids, taping away at his phones, and trying to move out the way so, we can get to our seats. We sat down at our seats and awaited the start of the performance. In the meantime, my friend pull out his Nintendo 3DS and started to play Pokemon: Black Version. For the most part, many people had a Nintendo handle device of some kind mainly, some variation of the 3DS model. As my friend is playing the little boy next to him also, start playing his game. Instantly, the little boy started to converse with my friend about what kind of pokemon has?, what level is most of his pokemon on?, what his favorite?, etc. My friend was engaged in 10 or so minute conversation. I was flabbergasted at the same time, pretty happy. I saw it as amazing triumph for Pokemon, but ultimately for games in general. Here is my 20 year friend and this give-or-take 7 year old boy bridging the age gap. I saw the father elated at the sight of seeing his son engage in conversation with an older person. The word that comes to mind is awestruck for I have seen this happen before, but no where near the time length of the conversation and there was no prior engagements between the boy and my friend. This was a completely spontaneous act. There was no hesitation, no judgments based race, ethnicity, background, culture. It was just people engaging in a very spontaneous dialogue about a videogame. This is one of the many reasons why I advocate for videogames. As I say to distinguish professors, researchers, and directors that videogames bring people together. It comes down to do have a good grasp of thorough knowledge about the game to engage in meaningful and insightful conversations about the game. I love games with a passion and this proves yet again I am not ashamed to call myself a gamer.

P.S.

My friend and I got our posters signed by the conductor, the producers, a singer, and Pokemon creator himself, Junichi Masuda. Too awesome!

 

Two of my goals are to teach a course about videogames. More specifically, how humans interact and influence virtual worlds and how these virtual worlds interact and influence us as humans. If I haven’t mentioned this before, I am studying Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Thus, brings me to my other goal of being a socio-videogameologist (Made it up myself)! These are the goals I have set for myself and taking the necessary steps to accomplish both these goals. I take pride in having a good grasp of what it means to be a gamer and how I fit within the culture. As I meet new people such as directors and professors, I usually take them by surprise when I tell them my career goals. I get the occasional head nod with a face of confusion and intrigue. Some blatantly ask me, “Why videogames?” Of course, when talking with an esteemed professor and/or professional they feel inclined to ask to me, “Can you get a job in that?” or candidly say, “How can you turn that interest to be more academic?” There are plenty of jobs that people can get that to work with videogames for example, a videogame developer, analyst, researcher, author, journalist, talk show host, engineer, animator, CEO, director, etc. The list goes on just look at the end credits for some of the biggest blockbuster games!

As for the second question, “How can you turn that interest to be more academic?” Well, let’s see! There are plenty of institutions that offer bachelor degrees in videogame design such as Full Sail University and WestWood colleges. On a more prestigious scale, New York University(NYU) recently announced that they will be offering a bachelors of fine arts degree in videogame design. This is exciting news because NYU is a very well-known and prestigious institution so, for an institution of their magnitude to offer a degree in something some professors scoff at is truly wonderful. In an age where kids are being born with an Android phone to their left and IPad to there right, it is hard to say that videogames have no place in higher education. Videogames come in many formats in order to have as many people in world to be able to play them. I would enjoy using my passion for videogames to teach and show people the arts of videogames. Videogames go beyond a hobby or interest for me. It’s a life style choice! 

I feel angry. I feel upset. I feel jovial. I feel rambunctious. I feel tired. These are only few of the many adjectives that help describe how I feel when I am gaming. Most importantly, playing in a virtual space has taught me a lot about how I deal with certain challenges and complex obstacles. Mostly, I am very calm and happy-go-lucky person (I try to be), but I also get very frustrated. Daunting challenges that seem to manifest into a much more complicated issue really get to me. In my reality, when I do assignment it is meant to be turned in for a grade. You get one shot and one shot only. No restarts, no do-overs, or last saved games. So, when I am doing an assignment I feel this immense amount of pressure to do the assignment correctly, but pretty much aiming to get a perfect score. In a virtual reality things are completely different. I learned that in a videogame I feel way more relaxed even when I am traversing an environment that is unfamiliar to me. I feel much more confident when I feel that have all the tools necessary to accomplish a goal. I also, noticed that when I get frustrated I don’t curl up in the fetal position because I know I can come back to that task later on. Of course, there is a cornucopia of other feelings and slight nuances that I noticed about myself when I am “in game”. Everyone should take a step back and reflect on of their virtual realities can ultimately, explain or change one’s reality! Just pause and reflect!

NO…NO…NOOOOOOOO!!! This is the word that I shouted to the white ceiling in my room when I forgot to save during a crucial boss battle in Ninja Gaiden II. This happened some time ago, but the frustration is still with me. Granted, in Ninja Gaiden II, order to save your game you must go to a dragon totem in the game to save where you are. They are spread out just enough that you really have to spend some time in the game before you reach the next totem. They are slightly hidden at times, but I was able to always find them. Except in this one case where I forgot too and I was already at one of the boss battles. In my frustration fighting against the boss after about 45 minutes, I just gave up. I turned off my Xbox and walked into the distance(I actually went into kitchen and got me some water and snack.) Anyways, about 30 minutes of trying to regain my confidence I got back on my Xbox. As the screen was loading, I am eagerly waiting to implement my brand new strategies that I…ummm…graciously borrowed from Youtube! The screens loads, I pick my saved storage, I pick my profile and to my surprise I realized I did not save. The last save was about 20 minutes prior to the boss battle. I was completely upset so much so, I shed a couple of tears. The forgotten saved data was not really the source of my pain, but remembering all of the hard work and many deaths I went through to get to the boss. Remember gamers to save and save often! We now live in times of the automatic save! This helps, but sometimes automatic saves can be unreliable as well. Please save your games manually, otherwise you will face the same heartache and grief that I went through many saves ago!

For as long as I have been a gamer there is always this discussion about the identity of a gamer. More specifically it is a discussion about females in the gaming community or female gamers. Now if you are a kind of person who is pretty much aware of what goes on in videogame culture, you know females get the proverbial short end of the stick. There is this overwhelming mental image that gamers are just males. Of course, this is not true, according to the ESA 2014: Essential Facts, 48% of all gamers are females (up 3% since 2013). So, if half of all females are gamers why do they constantly receive such harsh criticism and harassment? This maybe simplifying things to much, but female gamers are still seen as outsiders. Females are seen as invading the male dominated gaming community. This is absurd for the gaming community consists of people from all walks of life whether someone is male, female, gay, bisexual, etc.

For the sake of keeping this blog post relatively short, I will not further elaborate of the distinctions between male and female gamers (which do not exist besides how males and females are treated differently). There has to be and I do believe there is a change where being a gamer is not gender specific. However you put it, female gamers or gamers who happen to be female, everyone deserves respect. Differences in opinions should stem from intellectual conversations amongst gamers and not on the basis on gender. Game developers can change the narratives of the games we play and members of the gaming community can change the way we argue when it comes to the people who play these games. Let’s stop this obscene vendetta against female gamers and just see them as gamers who are just females. Also, don’t get upset if a female owns you in game. Gender has nothing to do with individual player skill level. You just suck dude!

Yes! I finally finished playing a game that I bought sometime ago in March of this year. Saturday(My BDAY!) I finished playing the campaign to Prototype 2. Prototype 2 could and should have been a lot better, but I still had fun playing it anyway. As I watched the credits scroll through after the final cutscene, I started to reflect on how many games I have recently completed and still need to finish playing? Overall, I have completed the main story arcs of the games I own my 360. Also, I have completed majority of the side missions and dabbled in the multiplayer a little bit. So, I am doing pretty well in finishing the games well at least the campaigns. Unfortunately, I still have a handful of games who have not received some tender, love, and care in awhile. I feel so ashamed.

So, here is a list of all the games I still need to finish playing.Games to finish on Xbox 360(in no particular order): Borderlands 2, Batman: Arkham City, Ninja Gaiden II, Sleeping Dogs, Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bayonetta, Crysis, and Halo 3: ODST.  Games to finish on PC( in particular order): The Witcher: Enhanced Edition, Borderlands 2, Batman: Arkham Origins, Mirror’s Edge,The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, and The Impossible Game. 

So, I still have a ways to go in trying to finish these games before the summer ends, but I have hope! Is this gaming backlog pretty good or is mind blowing that I have all these games to still play? Let me know and tell me what your gaming backlog is. Hopefully, yours is a lot nicer.

Finally, the annual EVO Championship Series is here! Why I am so excited? Well let me explain without fully geeking out! EVO(Evolution) Championship Series is an annual fighting vidoegame tournament held in Las Vegas. Gamers from all over the world come ready with there fight sticks and controllers in hand, strategic fighting techniques, and a strong can do attitude to beat every competitor that stands (or sits) in their way! I have been a big fan of EVO since, 2011 and have not missed one since then. The games played at EVO are usually the latest fighting games that have come out. This year’s tournament will be comprise of Ultra Street Fighter iV, BlazBlue: ChronoPhantasma, Killer Instinct, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Injustice: Gods Among Us, King of Fighters XIII, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Tekken Tag Tournament 2. These will be the games that these skilled players will be fighting each other in. Personally, I will be heavenly looking at Injustice: Gods Among Us mainly, this game was developed by NetherRealm Studios. NetherRealm Studios as most know created the deliciously fun and bloodied Mortal Kombat (9). So, I assuming most players who will be playing Injustice will have a Mortal Kombat background. Almost forgot there is suppose to be a Mortal Kombat reveal at the Injustice Grand Finals on Saturday so, make sure you do not miss that.

Did I mention this is suppose to be EVO’s biggest Street Fighter tournament ever!!! Nearly 2,000 competitors from around the world! You can read more about it here.

Cannot make to Las Vegas to see live (me neither), then do not fret because there will be a live stream of the tournament of there website. Also, for the first time IGN is getting in on the fun with their live stream as well here. Also, a twitch live stream here. EVO 2014 starts at 8amPST/11amEST. So, let the long killer combos, finishers, sweating palms and loud cheering commence. MWUHAHAHAHAHA!

I am going to cut straight to the chase with this and say, GAMES ARE DIFFICULT! Well…games can be difficult. The hardest game I have ever played involves the faced-paced, bloodied-action, and oh so deadly ninja, Ryu Hayabusa! Specifically, I played as Ryu in the frustratingly tough Ninja Gaiden II. Now some of you may believe Ninja Gaiden as a franchise is difficult, but you were able to get through the games with some ease. That’s fantastic…for you! In my case, playing this game was exhilarating, fun, tiresome, and really stressed me out…a lot! Do not get me wrong, everyone should play at least one game from the Ninja Gaiden franchise, if and only if you are some kind of Zen master or at least a low level monk. FYI, play the older games not the newer one’s, Team Ninja really f’d up the franchise once NInja Gaiden III came out. I played Ninja Gaiden II as if my soul being and purpose in life was just to defeat each boss battle and level. I have owned Ninja Gaiden II for about 4 years and still have not defeated the final boss! So, far that is the only game that I am afraid to play, solely because I know I will lose multiple times before I even get to the part proceeds the final boss battle. Yes this is me being afraid to play a GAME! 

Difficulty in games is something of a must in vidoegames. No challenge or occasional struggle then, the game because uninteresting. Most games have the standard difficulty settings (Easy, Normal, hard, Difficult) or some variation of that. Us gamers fail more times, then we actually succeed. We keep going back because believe it or not, we enjoy to fail. Failing anything sucks, but in a virtual sense, failing is alright because games allow for you to try again. Therefore, you learn from your mistakes and try the level again. Some games are just notoriously hard fresh out the box such as Dark Souls 2. Difficult games can be conquered, it just takes some ingenuity, will, and some luck to get through our gaming struggles. Hopefully, I will build up the courage to pop in that disc of disdain and fear and getting trying until my fingers fall off…or until I quit again. Which ever comes first!

“You don’t know how to talk to people!”, “Go outside or something!?”, “Can you talk about anything else besides games?” Do any of these judgmental phrases ring any bells? Why do these people judge gamers in such a manner? Let me give a little insight into why people response in such a way. People are naturally judgmental especially, when people are faced with obstacles or situations they do not immediately understand. I do it myself, but I’m open minded enough to try and embrace it(with in reason). Gamers are a cohort of people that are still seen as being antisocial and/or outkast(I love this group). Now this ideology varies place to place, culture to culture. In recent years, the perception of gamers went from geeks with no sheek to geeks with still no sheek, but have awesome gamer-related graphics t’s.

Most of the time when someone writes or in this case blogs about gamers lack of human interaction, it is mainly a one-sided conversation. That side is always asking, “how are gamers lack of face to face interaction affecting them”, but the person writing the article is more than likely not a gamer. So, how do gamers feel about this misconception? The answer is we either truly do not see it as a problem or we have came to that realization, but have no idea how to break out of it. Some gamers believe that MMO’s connect them with other people, just in a virtual space. The gamers who do recognize this issue or lack of social skills are, sorry to say, “socially awkaward” to the point that games are a safer and less judgmental place than trying to interact with actual people. Not that all gamers try to avoid people, it is just life has shown them that people are wildly sporadic, erratic and have several ways to communications that varies depend on factors such as age, culture, political affiliation, etc. Gamers can be interactive and sociable, we just need at help. Judging does not help! AT ALL! In order to come to together as people we must take the time to get out of our own way and try to understand. If we just listen to others, we might just learn something!