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    • Video Game Review: American McGee’s Alice
      After the recent release of “Alice: Madness Returns,” I  picked up a copy. With each copy, console gamers also got a free download of  the original “American McGee’s Alice.” Before playing the new Alice, I had to  go back and beat the original again. While many things were just as I had  remembered, I’m glad […]
    • Video Game Rant: Donkey Kong Country Returns
      One of my favorite games of all time is Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2. When I heard they were making a new one, I was super excited, but also somewhat skeptical. So a few months ago, I picked up a copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns to try out the new game. My fiancee also joined […]
    • Scott Pilgrim Versus the World: Movie Review
       (Warning: some spoilers) When they decided to turn this Canadian comic into a movie, I’m not sure they were aware of what a cult smash hit this would be. Topping the charts for Blu-rays on the first day it was released on home video, it’s also been on several top ten lists. It appeals to […]
    • Good Kitty: WoW Feral Cat DPS Rotation
      ***Note: this information is from before Cataclysm. There have been major changes to the class. See my sources below for more updated information.*** When I rolled Druid on the first character I legitimately got to level 80, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I leveled Feral Cat, and when I hit 80, I realized […]
    • Finding a Job
      This is a digression from my usual topics, but I wanted to share some of my strategies with other unemployed or soon to be unemployed people out there. My job search has been the focus of my free time lately, so I figured it would be the perfect topic for my next post. 1)      Assess […]
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Can Video Games Tell Stories? Excerpts from my Senior Study


As video games have grown up from arcade shooters and text based adventure games to Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) and motion-detecting games of all genres, so too has the field of discussion on the subject. Writers world wide are theorizing on what games do, how they do it, and what they should be doing.

Academia is beginning to develop a sizable body of opinions on video games, moving far beyond simply addressing the violence associated with playing games. The big scholarly issue many people are addressing is whether or not games can tell stories, and if they do then what kind of narrative it is, or in what way is it told, a complex discussion situated amongst conflicting sources and academics.

So why study video games? Are they even worthy of academic thought? Do they produce anything meaningful? These are questions that have been debated since the birth of video games as an innovative mode of entertainment. Yet when watching someone play a game, it is obvious that the player is not simply seeing units in a program.

Games are not simply a form of entertainment either. Games are a mode of interaction, of expressing something about ourselves, both for the player, designer, and onlooker. They shape how we see the world by looking at how others see it.

Reading a book can make you laugh, cry, and forget it’s only a story. Watching a movie and playing a game can produce the same reactions, a game arguably even more so because of the high level of audience participation. Playing a game can make you think ‘Oh, I never thought of it that way.’ Playing a game lets people literally get into a story and even help tell it. Finally, digital technologies represent a growing medium for storytelling, and they may be the future of narratives.

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NAFSA Student Diplomat Video Contest Finalists Announced


 The 2009 NAFSA Student Diplomat Video Contest finalists have been announced, and my video was one of those selected! Watch all 5 finalist videos and vote for your favorite by January 15 to help select the winner and the 2009 Student Diplomat:

 http://www.nafsa.org/publicpolicy/default.aspx?id=16649

Student Diplomat Video Contest Entry


NAFSA sponsored their 2009 Student Diplomat Video Contest for students who are studying abroad or who have studied abroad. The deadline was today, so I posted my video submission about my experiences in Japan at Kansai Gaidai University and entered it in the contest. Here it is for your viewing enoyment. If it gets into the finals, you can vote and help me win (not like I’m betting on that, but at least I’ve got a shot at the $300 pot).

http://www.youtube.com/group/studentdiplomat#p/r/0/Rh-he653Dec

College Life


College.Where to begin? I spent nearly 4 years at a small liberal arts college in Tennessee. I was an unusual student for Maryville College. I was from out of state, I was intent on studying abroad, I ended up as a commuter, and I knew exactly what I wanted to major in the moment I set foot on campus. My case might not be the typical college student experience, but everyone’s got a different story to tell, so here’s mine, in a much abbreviated version.

You have to learn some things that really don’t help you much later in life. Living in the same room with a total stranger? Not helpful. Forcing down nearly inedible food? Useful in rare situations. But learning how to articulate your thoughts orally and in writing? Invaluable. Learning about how diseases spread and mutate? Fascinating. Learning a second language? Culturally and vocationally relevant. You have to be prepared to learn some lessons that will serve you well, and some that may not serve much purpose, but remember that you can’t always tell the difference until later.

I’ve lived in a dorm, eaten crappy dorm food, had some unfortunate roommates, made friends, wrote papers, crammed for tests, took road trips, moved off campus, studied abroad, led a club, had an internship, wrote a thesis, and, finally, graduated. But now, looking back, I think college is more about little, seemingly unimportant things, than milestones. It’s staying up til 3 am with friends and laughing at nothing. It’s missing your pets from home. It’s getting frustrated over formatting and editing one paper all day.

College is not something that you should feel like you have to figure out how to survive, that you need to somehow push through and just struggle on until graduation. It teaches you how to survive. Some things are sink or swim, some are about stress management, some are about how to have fun. So don’t just survive. Succeed. And make sure that you do these three things: listen to the teacher, learn something new, and have fun.