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Gaming To Hell In A Handbasket

The trials, tribulations and musings of an MMO veteran trying to find the next holy grail.

Author: Strayfe

The Power of Gaming

Posted by Strayfe Friday January 25 2013 at 10:59PM
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It's been a year and some months since my last post. 

Someone who I've come to respect and enjoy a great deal in a very short amount of time suggested that I pick this blog back up again, dust it off and play ball for awhile.  She called me a brilliant writer.  I think I laughed for ten minutes.  Not at her mind you, but at the idea that in this day and age, a tightly focused rant on a niche of a niche can be seen by some as literary mastery.

But that's just about where things stand in the brave new world of 2013, isn't it?

In many respects, technology and society have advanced to the point where gaming as an interest, and its fringes such as blogs, machinima, faqs, reviews and related things, have become more and more accepted in the mainstream.  Blogging for this site, and in general, if you know what you're doing, can carry a definite journalistic credibility in the event you do go searching for any job that involves creative thought, articulation or the fading ability to string words together to form a coherent sentence.

I'll give you a few seconds to stop laughing... actually, I'd better make that a few minutes.  Put your serious face back on, because I'm serious.  Dead serious.  As serious as Vin Diesel frowning at a picture of Chuck Norris' frowning face.

I've used a couple posts on this blog as writing samples when applying for various jobs in the past, and I've had people remark on that before, but I never really gave it much thought beyond that.  I've never been one to scream too loudly about my interests to those outside my immediate circle, especially in an era where your boss probably does his own background check by googling your name and browsing wantonly through your facebook page.

I don't have a facebook and I won't be getting one, but that's a story for another time.

So, inspired to write for the first time in a while, where do I turn for a topic?  The answer: Inward, as I have been a lot lately. 

Long story short, I've had some twisting and turning personal circumstances.  It's been a harrowing journey wrought with many hairpin curves, and I've had to respawn a couple times because I wiped the raid by standing in the fire.  Nerd analogy points +5.  At the end of the day, I've discovered a few things about myself that I probably always knew somewhere deep down, but that are more and more apparent with each passing day that I focus on them.  The main point, and the focus of this post is simply this:

MMORPGs are responsible for the vast majority of my social growth and development, as well as being solely responsible for teaching and instilling the skills and values that ultimately allowed me to be successful in the workplace.  In short, I owe my life and success in most areas to being a gamer.

But while the more mundane nuances of the expansion of the internet and virtual worlds as a social medium continue to be accepted, the profound, deeper aspects and implications of that same paradigm shift are ignored, derided,  or brazenly legislated against.  The internet and gaming are now valid interests in the minds of the masses, but a statement that these things have affected you in a positive manner might still be seen as weird.  Look at the paragraph before this one.  Read it again.  Have you drawn some conclusions about me in your head?

Like it or not, there is a stigma created when you admit that virtual interaction has been an influential, empowering part of your life.  The usual stereotypes of being the size of a small cruise ship, subsisting on McDonalds and Kool-Aid and owning a flat, smack dab in the middle of mom's basement come to mind.  Those things are just that, however: stereotypes.

It never ceases to amaze me that we admit that gaming is mainstream, but still cling to the idea that, in order to be a gamer, one must be male, unhealthy and unsuccessful.  We have evolved in the consideration of the medium as valid, but without regarding the broader implications.  Namely, if something is 'mainstream', there will be people of all types interested in it.

Yes, that includes cute girls.  Yeah, I said it.  What are you going to do about it?

"Blah blah Strayfe, blah blah, Rule 37, monkey bag.  Donkey schnookums reefer magnet."

That sentence makes about as much sense as the antiquated views perpetuated by the media, trolls, and yes, the hub of what is supposed to be the most 'open minded' and 'freedom loving' group on the internet, Anonymous and 4chan itself.

We are quick to condemn video games for wanton depictions and glorifications (their words, not mine) of violence and sex.  We are quick to see and believe that being a gamer means you're poor, overweight, and socially inept.  And we are far too quick to dismiss the internet as being something "not real".

What many choose to ignore are the positive facets that anonymity and free expression can bring to a person.  MMORPGs can be an engine to teach social and leadership skills, promote friendship and cooperation and yes, even meet that special someone if we're lucky enough and the stars align.

So, with that said, I have two friendships that started online.  They have lasted for 12 years now, and I have watched my friends grow up, marry and have families of their own.  That is no less real of a friendship.

Gaming and the internet taught me how to write, how to speak my mind, how to retrieve information I need, how to problem solve and any number of critical thinking skills.  It also taught me to type 120wpm and gave me the computer knowledge and interests necessary to perform any day to day tasks at my job with ease and double as the tech support guru for my boss and anyone he knows.  All of these things added up once resulted in my first job as a legal assistant more than 9 years ago.  I am now a successful Paralegal, and soon I will have enough hours training to take the California Bar Exam and become an attorney.

I've had relationships that I consider to be successful in that they helped me understand myself better, whether or not they ended up being the one for me.  Two of them started online.  Soon, a third might as well.  If it happens, I won't think any less of it.

My ultimate point is simply this: find out what being a gamer means to you and embrace it.  We don't need to hold the stigma over our own heads.  We have plenty of clueless bottom feeders to do that for us.

Ladies and Gentlemen, roll out and crack some virtual skulls.  Just learn something along the way.