Passing On and Passing Along

Blaugust 1st 

As I get older I hear a lot more from friends about their desire for children. One friend in particular has developed an obssession with the idea. He tells me constantly that he feels that if he doesn’t have children, he’ll feel like a waste of space. What use is it being here if not to pass on his legacy? Aren’t children the best way to do that? This guy isn’t in any relationship that I’d expect to produce children.

I definitely understand how he feels. Before I had children I remember questioning my own worth to the world, but not because I didn’t have kids. Was I a waste of space? If I’m the only one who cares about my existence, then do I really exist? I could come and go, passing along through this life leaving no traces. The heart of it is feeling like we’re contributing to this crazy place in some way. Without that feeling, it’s easy for life to feel meaningless.

I don’t know that I think having children is the sole solution, though. I think humans crave being mentors and leaders to others. We’re pretty adamant about having a leader and I know I talk with people all the time who are clearly eager to pass on their own knowledge same as you. You know, those people who volunteer information unprompted, or who can’t resist explaining something they know. I’m not very talkative in person, but I love the opportunity to show someone how to do things. That’s why I write game guides. These little things feel like contributions to something. They’re nothing in themselves, but those little tiny pieces of meaning add up. Over the course of a lifetime, teaching fellow humans something – anything – makes us feel fulfilled and purposeful I think. Having children definitely scratches that itch 🙂 Watching them mimic me is magical, seriously magical. I love to walk into a room and see my children doing things when they don’t know I’m watching. Kids really are amazing and I can see why anyone would want to have them.

I told my buddy to adopt, but that’s pretty hard for single parents, especially men. I told him he could volunteer at youth centers, mentoring or being a big brother or something. There’s plenty of opportunities to lead others and mentor. When I think about it, this might be why events like the Newbie Blogger Initiative hold so much meaning for me personally. Community building just feels good, even though it can be exhausting. I think all of us enjoy that sense of community and yearning to pass on your knowledge or to mold some other creature into something valuable is part of the human experience.

Scree Tags: #blaugust #parenthood #mentoring

Escaping to Remember and Forget

Game bloggers are expected to write only about games. Happy articles. Happy articles are the sort that are always glad about games, and always have some awesome experience to share, or tell of some incredible event we’re all looking forward to. If the work doesn’t fall under this rule then it’s automatically the serious sort. Games are un-serious and all writing about them should be the same. Don’t bring anything else into it, or it will pollute the experience. It’s only an escape if we leave out all those things we’re escaping from. These serious articles are the ones that nitpick at popular problems or anything that deals with culture and politics. That last one isn’t really considered serious so much as totally inappropriate for gaming. XP Chronicles has a much sharper focus on gamer politics, a slight departure from T.R. Red Skies which focused much more on in-game experiences. I write now more about out of game experiences that affect the gaming community. Why the change?

My country and community has always asked me to be apolitical, to buy my coffee, enjoy my sofa, and have some popcorn with my video games. It asks me to not pay attention, to not be distracted from the fantasy, to not get involved. Society asks me to consume, consume, consume, to not count my dollars, not to miss a sale, to not worry about ethics. My community asks me to be numb and to ignore the messages in my games, because there are no messages.

Would that I could. There are politics in gaming. There is culture. There are people. We are living. When I’m swept away into my favorite fantasies, I can’t forget that there’s a world I return to soon after, that fellow avatars in-game are feelings, thoughts, and desires — not pixels. I can’t ignore the relationship of my fantasies to my reality.

Should we laugh more than we weep? About the same? 60/40? How many happy articles makes up for a serious one?

The Privilege of Games

As much as I as discuss sexism, racism and general bigotry, there’s one obvious thing that towers above and behind those, serving as the backdrop to them. It’s the fact that gamers are part of a very privileged group. Men and women, brown or white. Having the luxury of turning on a video game and escaping into virtual words is a privilege many people don’t have. The very act means I choose to escape the everyday. There are millions of people who cannot escape their reality.

It feels strange to think of gamers as this relatively wealthy group, which we are, all things considered. That’s doubly true for PC gamers. Our equipment is expensive to buy and requires upkeep (security software, peripherals, etc) as well as an internet connection — even as many of us are poor and impoverished. That “always online” lifestyle, regardless of income, means we have income and are part of a privileged group who can buy a respite from the real world and escape into the virtual.

To have the option to take a break from the emotionally exhausting work of activism, is a privilege for me. I grew up in the lowest class I could as a white male and have still managed to maintain a privileged position in this community. My life story was written in poverty. That fact is always hanging over me so I never forget that I can be homeless once more. That experience sits with me at my keyboard every time I write. This is why I write so much about the political. It’s my life.

I know of dozens of gamers who write about politics and culture, some of them all the time, some of them only occasionally. I also know just as many who actively avoid it because for them, this is a space to escape political realities. For many (a number we might all be uncomfortable with should it be revealed), this escape into games is what keeps them alive– their realities are unbearable. Gaming is survival for them. It’s important to have a safe escape, a safe place, and games give that to many of us.

Been There

Imagine you couldn’t turn on your computer ever again, couldn’t connect with fellow gamers, writers — and your circumstances were dire at home (abuse, poverty, homelessness). You could be easily forgotten in your dark place, no one caring, no one ever mentioning the fact that you’re not there. How lonely would that place be? How terrifying? How hopeless?

As futile as it may seem, I don’t think I could stop writing about the political. For me, it’s a responsibility, a promise to never forget my darkest days, when I knew no one noticed I was missing or there — passersby having their latte, in their cars, in their warm coats and full bellies — I was invisible. I was eleven. I’m political for my 11-year old self. There are more of me out there, different colors, different situations, all hoping no one has forgotten them. Writing for me is remembering.

When I’m not writing, I’m doing. In my old hometown, I established a safe routes network for the homeless, where they can pick up things they need no matter where they are. At home, I work with my wife to spread awareness and provide support to people in need. Since the birth of our last child, we’ve been able to do less of that than we’d hoped, but in the meantime we both write. Writing is powerful.

I had no purpose in writing this — it’s more of a diary entry than I ever do, but I wanted to today. I rarely write about the reasons I write, but perhaps it would be good to remember to do that as well.

T.R. Red Skies Levels Up

It’s time I leveled up. As much as I love T.R. Red Skies and my history that comes with it, I think I’ve outgrown it’s purpose.

Originally, I was just a gamer sharing my thoughts on my toys, on the things I have loved about games and continue to love about games. But I’m all grown up now and I don’t look at games the way I did when I first started all of this. When we play games long enough, we start to become nerdy little armchair experts on their content and at examining how they affect us. This new blog is about me taking that next step in game criticism and talking about those impacts on a level the 20-something me was never interested in.

Take this next step with me. If you’ve enjoyed my blogs or had the pleasure of watching me grow-up within the blogosphere, I think XP Chronicles will be a place that you can continue that journey with me. If you’re already a subscriber of blogs which write about social justice, recommend them to me so I can renew my blog roll and join those conversations.

It’s time to focus on the social aspects of gaming. It’s not about championing causes or becoming politically correct. It’s about challenging myself to keep evolving and hopefully keeping us all honest. It’s about using my writing to bring more gamers into the discussion, to hopefully write good conversation starters. I affect a very tiny part of the community, but I want to do my best for it. While those who share my interest in these topics will find common ground here, I’m aiming for those who haven’t probed these issues and want more information.

Some of my articles here will be co-authored so it will be a mix of perspectives and experiences. Some authors prefer to remain anonymous and I respect that, especially those who are targets for scorn. I will be sure to announce those articles and their authors while respecting their privacy.

I’ve imported some of the more socially conscious articles from T.R. Red Skies to here and I’m in the process of updating them for relevance and to add my newfound understandings of the politics of gaming. The original articles will continue to be accessible at T.R. Red Skies and un-edited for posterity. Here’s a quicklist of things you can look forward to on this new journey:

  • Weekly article.
  • Greater use of Twitter for conversation.
  • Feature articles each month, such as the new Quest Log series.
  • Greater use of empirical data to do more than just opinion sharing.

I’ll also be crafting up a Recommendations page for reading, movies, and games. Thank you for your continued support of my blogging endeavors! It’s been world-changing to join the blogosphere and to be shaped by the conversations that happen therein. I’m definitely looking forward to this change and to the fresh start into new territory, and I hope I can continue to make it worth your while.

#trredskies #xpchronicles