Monday, June 3, 2013

New gig!

As of today I am officially a staff writer for, a video game new site. I'm in charge of writing editorials, making guides (written and video), and performing interviews with game developers. I submitted my first post today. It's about the new Humble Bundle, of course!

This is currently a volunteer position, but I might get some monies out of it one day. 

Anyway, feel free to check it out. I'll continue to post here from time to time. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Vocation and Video Games

I'm currently taking a class called "Leading Productive Lives" wherein we examine the various facets of life and incorporate Jesuit ideals into them. Note: I am not Catholic.This week's was about vocation and choosing your life's work. Mine was about video games, so I thought I'd go ahead and post it here. Also, my Mom's been saying she wants to read one of the essays I have written for this class. Win-win-win. Enjoy.

The evolution of my vocation and work through my life so far has been fairly typical. The first time that I began to think seriously about what I wanted to be when I grew up I obviously wanted to fly fighter jets. I was eight years old at the time and my father taught aircraft maintenance in the Air Force. On weekends we would go to the grocery store on the base and I would get the see planes and jets of all sorts, both in the air and on the ground, and each and every one was fascinating. Then, I learned a little more about the nature of money and that it doesn’t just come out of ATM’s whenever you want to go to Burger King.
            I got over being a pilot quickly when I discovered that doctors made a lot of money. I still wanted to be in the Air Force, of course, as all of the doctors that I knew at the time were in the Air Force. Additionally, I wouldn’t have to pay for my college and I would still get to go on military bases and have a military ID card when I grew up. That seemed important at the time. If I had been about 15 years older the fact that members of the US military had socialized health care and the rest of the population did not would have carried a lot more weight. However, the concept of health insurance and benefit packages are a little beyond 10-year-olds.
            My ideals changed again when I found out that being a dentist is just like being a doctor but a lot easier. You had your own little office. People came at regularly-scheduled intervals. Everything you have to do is fairly simple and you have sweet gadgets to help you do them. Also, one of my first dentists had two arcade games that you didn’t have to put quarters into in his waiting room. Bingo. I had found the ideal career. Additional benefits included that I could still be in the military and that I would for sure get to be “The Boss” at work. I was 14 and had everything figured out.
            Unfortunately, I was yet to consider how much I would actually enjoy any of these careers. Being a dentist would certainly pay well, but is that something I would actually enjoy? My thoughts about vocation began to mature a little when I got into high school: I found out that Orthodontists made even more than Dentists, but I found the work to be less pleasant so I was not interested. This was the first time I had considered something other than income when thinking about my life’s work. I was yet, however, to consider any of my actual interests or things that I enjoyed doing.
            My major interests in high school consisted of playing and talking about video games, programming my (and others’) graphing calculator to do funny things, messing around on my parents’ and school computers to see how they worked, and girls. At no point in my public school experience did I, even once, consider that I could find work related to any of my interests. Granted, I don’t believe there are any honorable professions related to “girls.” But the point of the matter is that that there was most definitely work to be had in my other interests.
            I did not ever perceive of the concept of work/vocation being related to my interests until I read a speech given by Norm Nemrow, an accountant, who created and sold a very successful real estate firm in the 80’s and discovered that simply no longer needed to work in his early 30s. He then struggled to find what he would do with all of his time, as he didn’t have to go work anymore. First he tried golfing full time, but it was not fulfilling. Gradually, he discovered that his real passion lay in teaching. And since he already happened to have a master’s degree in accounting, he became an accounting professor. He found that he was able to pour all of his passion into this new job and found more personal fulfillment in it than anything else he had ever done.
            I was blown away by this revelation. If I played my cards right, and became qualified, I could actually get paid to do something I already enjoyed. This was the Holy Grail. I was then 19 and had it all figured out.
Since then I have had some trial and error with educational and career paths. It took me a while to really give up on the ideal of being wealthy and to not put income as a major factor in my choice of career. There are much more important things in life than money, even with the desire to use it in noble ways. I cannot deny that I still want to “have it all” (2003) in spite of the changes in career and later start date to really landing that career. I have also struggled for some time to really embrace the things that hold my interest and attention the most and in which I feel I can really make a contribution. I’ve always feared that people would find me to be juvenile or just a dork. Personal fulfillment eventually won out.
Bonhoeffer said that “vocation is the place at which one responds to the call of Christ and thus lives responsibly.” (2005) How is making video games for a living responding to a call from the Savior and living responsibly? It is because I have chosen to immerse myself in our society’s fastest growing form of entertainment and do what I can to make its community accountable. I will not be part of projects that I feel are morally reprehensible, but I will challenge prejudice and seek to raise the level of discourse surrounding the new art form.
            I feel this outlook directly correlates with Buechner’s sentiment that “The place God calls you is where your deep gladness and world’s deep hunger meets” (1973). Gaming has taken a role of allowing the player to experience an alternate reality to their own. This can be an uplifting and thought-provoking experience, an experience just for the sake of fun and excitement, or simply an excuse to fantasize about base desires. It is my gladness and, I believe, the world’s need to engage in psychologically and morally stimulating entertainment. This is what I hope to do in my vocation.
This is the reason I am studying Computer Science with an aim to go into the video game industry. I no longer feel that I have everything figured out, but I know this is what I like to do, something I can contribute in, and will at least make enough money to support my family. In truth, I feel like the only thing I have figured out is that if this idea crashes and burns, I will at least have had new learning experiences that I can take with me to the next possible vocation (1990). However, I am optimistic and feel that good things are on a horizon.
Wuthnow, B. (2003). “The Changing Nature of Work in the United States: Implications for Vocation, Ethics, and Faith” In M. R. Schwehn & D. C. Bass (Authors), Leading lives that matter: What we should do and who we should be. (pp. 90-100) Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.
Bonhoeffer, D. (2005). "The Place of Responsibility" In M. R. Schwehn & D. C. Bass (Authors), Leading lives that matter: What we should do and who we should be. (pp. 107-111) Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.
Buechner, F. (1973). "Vocation" In M. R. Schwehn & D. C. Bass (Authors), Leading lives that matter: What we should do and who we should be. (pp. 111-112) Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. 

Hardy, L. (1990). "Making the Match: Career Choice" In M. R. Schwehn & D. C. Bass (Authors), Leading lives that matter: What we should do and who we should be. (pp. 90-100) Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Positive Experience #7

We've almost made it, the worst month of the year is just about over. I couldn't be happier! Due to the decreased sunlight in the winter, everyone in Alaska gets a serious itch to get the crap out of town and into warmer climates. This is why everyone who can afford to goes to Hawaii in March. I didn't get the luxury of travel this month due to the continued appearance of surprise medical bills, but I'm certainly feeling much better than I did last year, when I was learning all about the drudgery of clinical depression and not having a restful night's sleep in about a year. It wouldn't really take much to be better than that, but it's certainly been better, all told.

This past week I've been on call for the first time at work. This consists of being given a company cell phone and a mobile wifi hotspot and being the person that customers get forwarded to whenever there's no one logged into the phones at work (either because the person who is there is at lunch or there simply isn't anyone scheduled at that time). There isn't anyone scheduled from Saturday afternoon for about 25 hours until Sunday afternoon. This ended up being more of a hassle than I would have wanted it to be. However, I understand I didn't have it too bad. And Aubrey and I did some funny stuff to cope with it.

It was Aubrey's grandpa's birthday on Saturday, and he's going in for surgery this week, so she really didn't want to miss it. We drove down Saturday afternoon and had "ice cream cake" (which is more of a frozen pudding cake with a buttery nut crust) as it traditional for occasions with Aubrey's Grandparents. On the way back home, the clock struck 4, which meant that I would start getting calls, which I did immediately.

So we were driving up I-15 and I was on the phone and on my laptop in the passenger's seat taking tech support calls and typing up cases. It wasn't "fun" like doing something that is actually fun, but fun in it's own way, it felt pretty cool to be able to make it all work. Plus Aubrey thinks it's sexy when I take care of business like a total bouse. So win-win there! I also took calls at home (of course), in the Best Buy parking lot, and someone else that I can't remember. It was pretty fun times! And I event got paid for it. Everything we did turned into a "race against" time to try and get through something before the phone would ring. The best was definitely when we went out to dinner. There was some serious suspense, and we ended up never getting a call! That bread pudding we got for desser was a real shame though. That was an alcoholic sponge, not bread pudding.

The on-call ends tomorrow (which will be a relief). I'll have to plan something awesome to do with Aubrey since my schedule in the evening won't be all janked up.

Another positive thing: I caught a whiff of Breakup this weekend.

Let me explain, when I was growing up, there was a special time of the year (in April or so) when all the snow would really start to melt in earnest, and all of the grass and mud would finally be exposed for the first time in month and it had a distinct "melty" smell. (Sidenote: 6 months of frozen animal poop and garbage would also become exposed at this time, but we won't dwell on that.) And this triggered two things in my mind: Running and Heroes of Might and Magic 2. YEAH!!! I was on the track team in high school so I always get the itch to run in Spring. And I played a lot of that game one spring with a friend of mine. So I did both over the weekend and it was awesome and I loved it! Actually, I didn't run, I did walk for a good time and difficulty on the treadmill though. I kind of need to work my way up. I've gotten totally fat and I still haven't really gotten used to the elevation in Utah. I'll get there.

But either way, things are looking up! I hope everyone has a great day!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Most Enjoyed: 2012

Sure, it's coming way after I promised it, but here it is none the less.

Mists of Pandaria - I'm currently taking a break from WoW because I'm tired of farming in games (ironically, I love the little farm you can get in the game now). But a great expansion! I'd be more interested if I had a good raid team/schedule, but in the absence of that. I'm ok without playing for now.

Starcraft 2 - I managed to get a feel of being more involved in the game this past year. Great game. Great community. Expect more great things to come.

Dungeon Defenders - I got freaking hooked on this for a couple of months! Still a great way to burn a few hours.

Guild Wars 2 - Content patches are coming out all the time for GW2. You should definitely take a look if you're in the mood for a good MMO w/o wanting to pay a subscription.

Age of Empires Online - Still fun, but after playing SC2 the gameplay itself feels slow and stale.

Punch Quest/Ski Safari/Road Trip 2 - I love these side-scrolling runner games. Extra props to Ski Safari for having the catchiest music.

Amnesia: The Dark Decent - Aubrey and I finally got brave and started playing through this game. And then we got a big tv. And then we played it on the big tv. And then we decided we were better off just watching Day9's playthrough.  By far one of the creepiest games I've ever played. Great mechanics.

Chrono Trigger/Majora's Mask/FF3(6) - Got these babies on the Wii Virtual Console and I play them on the treadmill. Great multitasking!!