It's late spring, 2010. Summer's heat is still a few weeks away, yet the uninsulated brick and black roof of my top floor apartment already have the place unpleasantly warm. I am lying on the floor of my living room, staring at the pockmarked ceiling and intensely aware of both the coarseness of the shabby carpet underneath me and the clacking of keys coming from the room at the end of the hall. Both are driving me insane, but I'm rooted to my spot, frustrated. I hate my job. I hate that the recession and the resulting lack of jobs means the job I hate is the only thing we have to pay the bills and not go hungry. I hate being broke while we finish grad school. I hate that we can't afford to live in a building with air conditioning, or at the very least even scrounge up enough to get one of those cheap floor models to stick in the bedroom. Something. I especially hate the furious clicking that emanates from the back room every time a rejection letter arrives in the mail, the slumped shoulders, the dejected "what am I doing wrong?" Nothing, I say, you just haven't found the right person yet, but it falls on deaf ears as the fingers are already clacking, editing, refining, changing perspectives and narratives and plot in an attempt to find that magic formula that will make an agent finally say "yes." Today had brought two of those rejection letters; he was obsessing over what to change before he'd even gotten out of the elevator. That alone made me want to cry. But at this moment, what I hate more than anything else, the reason I'm on the floor digging my nails in the cheap carpet and staring at the nubs in the ceiling while the eight-dollar window fan tries to suck some cool night air into the baking room, is the email that's still displayed on the ancient laptop above my head. Weeks before, I had written to a number of small publishers with a simple request: I was looking at making a move to publishing, and had some experience as a reader and editor already, but wanted to expand on those skills. My dream was to dually work with a publication like mental_floss (indeed, what little extra cash we do scrounge is spent on maintaining my subscription and collecting the books they release) and coach writers who had promise but weren't quite to the point of being ready to publish. I had the education, but the problem was showing the publication experience to make an editor even look at me. I was willing to work for free in exchange for the experience to help balance out my resume, and touted that in my pitch: whether it worked or didn't, it wouldn't cost the publishers anything except a recommendation if they liked my work. I just wanted the experience and the chance to help others out of those sweltering back rooms, blindly clacking away without any real idea of why their work didn't make the cut. I wanted to give feedback rather than form letters. I wanted to help them find that right person to see their work.
This summer, the RCM Writing department started its first Summer Writing program with four college interns from around the US. For August, they were asked to write about whether they feel the media has a more positive or a more negative slant regarding gaming culture. Elizabeth's essay is the second installment in this four-part series.
Gaming culture has struggled with its public image almost since its beginning. One of the first gaming controversies started right at the start of gaming's rise to popularity in the late 1970's. It concerned "Death Race", a game where the player won points by mowing over pedestrian-resembling ghouls, and sparked a debate about violence in video games that plummeted gaming culture's reputation, turning the public's perception of games as a fun family pastime into the gateway to a life of violent crime. This first condemnation of gaming was far from the last, as Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto followed, sparking controversies about violent and sexual themes in gaming that still continue to this day. Mainstream media has tended to drag gaming culture through the mud, focusing on stories that only show the ugly side of games. To me, mainstream media such as Fox News or CNN tends only to focus on games when the subject centers around a negative aspect of gaming culture, such as gaming addiction, sexism within the industry, or their long-time tirade of whether games encourage violence or not. Gaming culture has not had it easy; the consensus by major news outlets is that games encourage bad habits and unsafe ideas, and are mostly played by fringe weirdos. Nowadays, after the integration of gaming to mainstream pop culture, this pedaling of negative aspects of gaming could be attributed more to the overall tendency for news outlets to prioritize negative news over positive because it brings higher ratings––but regardless the reason, gaming culture is still not spoken of very highly.
It is a June heat wave, a few years ago. The asphalt along Euclid baking and reflecting its warmth off the skyscrapers and office buildings of downtown Cleveland. I am in a full skirt suit, stomping down East 17th under a muggy sun. I am hot. I am tired. I am stressed. And I am beside myself with fury as we maneuver around destruction work randomly chunking up or blocking the sidewalk. A mistake has been made. A vital piece of information about a student's needed accommodations were not relayed, and that paired with massive renovations at the venue meant I was the only person who knew how to navigate the student in the back way - through the crowd, out of the theatre, around the corner, down the street, and in through the delivery entrance. It didn't help that we are close to showtime and the radio at my waist constantly chirping to ask where I was keeps slowing us down. However, my job is to think on the fly and make things work, and that's what we're doing. I'm not even mad about that. What has me hot is that this is the second time this same issue has taken place to the same student. "I'm telling you, Miss D," I say as we skirt around another set of scaffolding, "this is not normal for us. At. All. And I'm very sorry this is the second time we haven't been ready for you."
This summer, the RCM Writing department started its first Summer Writing program with four college interns from around the US. For August, they were asked to write about whether they feel the media has a more positive or a more negative slant regarding gaming culture. Ruby Re's essay is the first installment in this four-part series.
When I think about the media's role in society, I think less of traditional media outlets such as TV, newspapers, and radio. Instead, I think of social media. With sites and apps that are easy to use, social media has become one of the fastest ways to transmit information, sometimes presenting new information before it can be picked up by traditional media. For all topics, including gaming, this allows for a real time reaction to new information. However, this instant consumption of information can lead to unfiltered reactions, both positive and negative.
God damn my body hurts. This weekend was the graduation ceremony for my campus' Class of 2016. This was my tenth ceremony, third as event chair, and it was a beautiful day. Seven and a half months of planning, continual controlled communication, and a seasoned crew of volunteers and performers make for a fairly easy run once we actually get to the event. The highlights for me were getting to see Miss D. hooded for her masters (the reason for that turned into an entire essay of its own, so look for that coming out next week), and being part of a conspiracy that saw one of our local students reunited with her son, who is an active duty member of the Army and whom she hadn't seen in two years. She had no idea he was there until she started to walk across the stage for her scroll, only to have this young man march out from the opposite wing in full uniform to meet her center stage while the rest of the house exploded in cheers. Things like that are what help make the job worthwhile.
D-01: Nearly ran over someone today. I think he was playing that new mobile game everyone raving about. Just pissed me off. I mean, he just walked out in front of me. Of course, true to the stereotype, it was a 16 year old. Not a single care in the world except to make sure his gazed eyes were glued to the phone in his hands. I know it's not true, but I swear the younger generations are just becoming dumber. It's probably me becoming older and grouchier. D-05: Big news networks are running stories about the new mobile game. They're gushing how young people are getting out outside instead of shutting themselves inside with their electronics. Now they're outside... with their electronics. What a world. Admittedly it's weird to see these large groups of people in parks wandering around with their phones in their hands. Even weirder is the local news is blowing up with the rash of pedestrians accidents in town. People were on their phones and just walked into to traffic. The kicker was everyone of them was playing the new game. D-11: Went to some friends' house to check up on them since they hadn't been answering their phones. Immediately everything was screaming something was wrong. The unmowed lawn, the piled up mail in the mailbox, and the front door was wide open. I went in calling for them, Nothing. Just silence. I tried calling the police, but the lines were busy. I tried the other emergency numbers and all I got was busy signals. Helpless, I headed home. I texted Jes, my girlfriend, what happened. With all the strange things going on, she insisted she come along with me tomorrow to look for any clues. Hopefully we'll find something tomorrow.
Summer has always been my least favorite season. I hate being hot. I hate the earth being dry and cracked. I hate the grass turning brittle and brown. I hate the bugs. I especially hate the air being so humid that stepping out of my house smacks me with the instant sensation that I'm drowning - I get worse chest colds in July and August than hypochondriacs get in the middle of flu season. What I hate most, however, is that whiney, restless feeling that comes when I have tons of things to do but the heat makes me not want to do anything. Going into last week's entry, I realized I was coming dangerously close to getting stuck in whine country sans any drinkable wine to put me in a better mood. Most people take these moments of self-enlightenment and put them to immediate use - take a walk, have a nap, binge watch TV shows until they're less grouchy. Which, side note, if you have not become addicted to AMC's Turn yet, stop everything and go Netflix it right now. Seriously. I'll wait. .....
I hit a new achievement in my digital farming last night. My careful return on investment analysis for my digital crops at the beginning of the digital season meant I brought in more than enough profits to hire someone to build me a digital barn and expand my animal stock with four young cows, which in honor of my colleagues at RCM I have named Cowyar, Baron Von Cowsu, Killer McCow, and CowCoCow. Once I have reached the level that allows expansion of my barn, I will add to my herd with Vampy Cowtaker, teh_leet_milker, and BioMooCowcamist (I did not follow similar naming conventions with my chickens, but do get a naughty chuckle every time I see the one I named MotherClucker running around). With the game's winter approaching, I will soon shift focus from crops to my new animals and working on the maple grove I've carved at the edge of my estate, which I have named the Alpine Retreat and rule with my digital cat, Hobbes (who loves me, unlike those snotty villagers in Pelican Town). All around us in our little corner of Stardew Valley is abundance and serenity.
This summer, the RCM Writing department started its first Summer Writing program with four college interns from around the US. One of their first assignments was to write an op-ed essay on what they love about gaming. Evee's essay is the final installment in this four-part series.
I had just finished a phone call with an incoming student and was jotting down my notes when a shadow cast itself over my little cubby. I glanced over my shoulder to see the overly fake-helpful face of a coworker blocking the narrow entrance to my corner. Yay. "What's up?" I asked, noticing her pudgy fingers fidgeting with my fliers.