Geek Girls

Patrick Rothfuss posted this link the other day on Facebook. Many women have been overlooked as geeks, thought to have lesser skill in games or in their knowledge of topics, and treated as less then men in other geek passions. It is unfortunate that sexiest beliefs still exist today, and especially in countries that do not suppress women in any formal way. I have meet many women over the years that could be in this video, many of them great people with bright personalities. Some I’ve loved as friends, a few I have loved as more, and one currently that I might… or might come to love. Give them the respect they deserve, they have earned it!

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Life Forge

Light from forgotten skies,

burning bright upon the eyes.

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Blue ribbon above,

wraps the world below.

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Life shine from the rock,

grown like weeds.

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Sanity is lost,

freedom the dream.

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Darkness a shadow,

light its lover.

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Blindness a gift,

eyes deceive.

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Forged of hope,

Life weary.

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Reach to the sky,

heart & soul,

Entwine.

The Mist of Depression, and the Clarity of Awakening

Have you ever felt that you were wasting time? That you need to step up to an opportunity before it was gone? I am sure that most of you have been in that frame of mind at least a time or two. Perhaps it was before asking someone special out on a date, or maybe when a rare financial undertaking makes itself known to you. But in order to take up that undertaking, you must make a large decision that can shake your world and remove you from all that you have grown comfortable with in life.

Now multiply that by years upon years, maybe even a decade or more. That is the feeling of depression, or maybe when one wakes from that state. I can only make cognizance with that feeling after having come out of it. Because while in it the urge to move forward; to risk and grab the rewards of life are subdued in the extreme. So I believe that when I woke and became aware of myself, I was then able to reflect upon what I had been like.

I have been depressed to the extent that I name it depression. While I never sought help for that issue, there is no better word to explain what I had gone through. Though even today I know that I have overcome that pitfall and I am still living with the disruption it has caused me.

The why and how to how I came into my depression is a mystery to me in some ways. Perhaps that is not exactly true, but I have a few guesses to answer that question. Maybe it was a combination of these, or just one alone. The fact is that I will never know for sure. So I blame them all, and above them all I blame myself of course.

In all fairness I should list those reasons to the best of my ability. I will state them in order and explain them after. The first reasons I can image was failing for the first time in a goal I had set for myself. But it was the most important goal in my young life; to achieve a college education and graduate with a degree. Next, I believe the second reason was the affect from not gaining that degree. Entering the workforce as a blue collar worker, working in factories, warehouses, and any job I could acquire at the time. The last reason, might very well be the strongest and possibly the old one that affected me enough to push me into depression. Quite simply, when I was twenty I was pulled into a court case that had lasted well over a year. During that year I had more stress then I could imagine having up to then. That type of stress can shake a person to their core and for a man like me; who always thinks about every move of chess possible before acting; it can shatter the his soul. But all in all, these were bumps in the road that I was unable to deal with; both mentally and emotionally. So I drown in depression and let it suck me into its vial debts, unaware of what I was doing to myself.

Let us speak about my time I went to college (the first time) as my first reason. You should know that I was the first one out of my parents and their parents to go to college. Though at least two cousins and some other extended family had gone to community college. But it was a big thing for me to achieve. I was delighted that I was accepted to college, and at the college I had dreamed of going to; West Virginia University. When I was young we passed through the West Virginia and I had loved the natural beauty of the state. Soon after their teams had become my favorites for college sports. My dream had always been to go there, and I had finally accomplished that goal. I spent a year there, and to my shame now; I partied, fucked, and blew my year away with barely a good grade to account for anything. I failed myself, and well I should had been able to go back.

On my summer break, I found out that the loans my parents had taken out were taxing them. You must understand that until then, and well after then I had always paid my way in things. I believe in taking responsibility with one’s life. I bought two cars in high school, I paid for many of my own things off two jobs. So the fact came crushing down that my parents were having troubles paying for my college, and I had blown the year off and partied my time away. That summer I decided not to go back, even though my step father had told me he wanted me to get my degree. I began working and thinking about going to a community college. But the only job I found was on third shift, and leaving work to go into classes was impossible for me at the time. So after several attempts to take classes while working… I gave up and resigned myself to the work force.

I stated that entering the blue collar work force was the reason. But let me first point out that I come from blue collar people. Hard working men and women that did everything for their families, and that I believe is the most honorable thing in the word. My problem with this is my own experience in those types of places and with the people in them. I had learned that people worked in jobs they hated or were disgruntled with for decades or lifetimes because they had to support their loved ones. I admire that, I do. To be honest, I wanted a job I could love; and still did year later when I went back to college. I wanted money, security, happiness, and all of the things that a good job should had brought to me. With the acceptance that college was not an option anymore, brought the surety that I would be unhappy and would have to claw my way through life… like many of my loved ones. Can you blame me for not wanting that sort of life?

The third and last reason embarrasses me to the core, and is something that I do not wish to comment about at all. So I will move on with as much grace as I can muster.

During those years I extended and fortified my introverted nature. Along with that impossibly high wall that I blocked out people with. I also drove a firm wedge between me and many family or friends. That was a way to protect myself; not allowing anyone to come to my help. The only social life I had was gaming; both online and in person, at work, and with the occasional sex partner; usually befriended online first. I even might had dated a few of those women in a sort of way. But none met family and only a couple met friends, because I could not (or would not) commit. I would not allow that entrance into the shell I had built for myself, so more often or not my relationships were casual. The majority of my social groups were found online, where I could hide from those people, lie, and use subterfuge to dissuade people away from the truth about me. That is the problem with the web, it can be such an intricate design with unseen stands that you will never see. Perhaps that is why many people that indulge in fantasy, are also computer people as well.

By far the greatest disservice I did to myself was to forget about my physical health. Your health is a vital thing in life, and some would say the most important thing. Though I myself believe it is the mind first and the body second; but they are also linked in a fashion and I know that well. The greatest change in my health was my weight. For most of the time, I was working third shift and like many others on that shift; I ate and drank much too much soda to keep myself alert. To compound that problem, I have always had an issue seeing myself gain or lose weight. If I do not weight myself, I could gain twenty, fifty, even hundreds of pounds without knowing. I remember when I finally went to work on my weight, after waking up from depression. I had thought I weight maybe in the upper three hundred pound range (from 350 to 380 was my thought). Then I was sadly disabused to find out that I had gained well past that mark (hundreds of pounds past). And so I was shackled by the harm of my depression, even for years after, and even now.

The day I woke from that depression was quite odd. I will try to explain it to the best of my ability. It was on a weekend day that I had off from work and I had been in my home office. I was watching TV, had the computer on, and was playing a computer game. But I did none of those things that day. I sat down somewhere before lunch time and when I became aware again it was night time. I did nothing for hours upon hours, and when I woke from that hazy state; I saw the computer games log, showing I had lagged out over 8 hours before and I was unaware of anything. I just stared at a wall or the computer, not computing and not digesting any information around me. At that moment I became aware of what I had been doing, which was nothing at all. It was like a fire inside me and the very next day I changed my life. I began reconnecting socially and began to eat health, even to the state of throwing away anything that was junk food in my house. The years after were happier and less depressed, then the years before. But they were slow in progress, with many turns that took me a step back and not ahead.

When you, or when I woke from that state of being. My largest regret is that I had wasted years upon years. Now I know that I have lost my twenties to that disorder and to the effects it has caused me. To this day I have made leaps in progress, I have struggled with overcoming those deep pits, and I have overturned some of those reasons that dropped me into that state. It has now been years since those depressed times, and I wonder if it touches me on occasion still. Going back to college and gaining my bachelor’s degree helped removed two of those burdens from my soul. But some of the damage inflicted in those times still remains. My weight and the question of my future happiness is what troubles me now. And in a way I consider them linked in a way, because most of the things I wish to do, require me to be healthier then I am now; perhaps even the jobs I wish. Let me just say that my weight is a constant struggle that I have not overcome… but I work towards it still. I believe that something is holding me back, and I have yet to find that reason. Lastly, I think I see happiness in the future, my life seems to be taking a turn that might lead me out of New England and perhaps to the south. But with that I will have to make the choice that I spoke of at the start, to move on, to risk, and to grasp the future… letting go of the past and all that is comfortable. I am hopeful.

Lost Works

In my youth I wrote much more then I have for some time. Eventually through my high school years I began to save those works. I had notebooks filled with poems and stories that I had kept around me. Upon leaving college in West Virginia the boxes that held those treasures were lost. I do not know if they were taken by my roommate by mistake, or forgotten in the storage bin that I rented; but the simple fact was they were done forever. That tragedy affected me more then I can say and when compiled with other things, it drove me away from writing for a time. That story will be told in another post soon I am sure.

Not too long ago, I found some of the things I had written in high school and I wanted to post one of those today.  Though I must explain first that I have always had a dark side when it came to my creative works. The majority of my role playing characters are considered dark, bordering on evil, they plot behind the parties backs for their own ends, enjoy sneaking and hiding, and are usually in all sorts of shady dealings. I personally enjoy the color black, skulls, vampires and werewolves (not these stupid romantic lover vampires or werewolves), the paranormal, hard music, and many other themes that are considered “dark”. But I should point out that I have never been a goth, I do not have a tragic childhood, and I am not morbid person. In many ways I can be quite the opposite of some of those things. So I can not tell you why many of these things interest me or why my mind walks those paths;  it just always has.

So here is poem that I found from high school. If you can guess what it is about, please comment.

CHAOS

Darkness filled and crossed the land

leaving but an empty hand

Taking those who sing and pray

leaving all that whine away

Making it an empty place

where the dead are laid to waste

Pets are dying, people crying

fires, fires, burn away

No more eating, no more drinking

suffering, suffering, go away

Food is found, in the ground

now the dead are unbound

Shadows shaking, bats are waking

people, people, stay away

Men are dining, women crying

little children are not whining

Light has come, from the sun

darkness, darkness, stay away

No more walking, no more talking

peace has come to stay.

World of Warcrack

World of Warcrack

Today I thought I would write a little about the single biggest pit I had ever fell into.  It seems to me that falling is something that scares most people.  That is only natural when a falling from a standing position has the ability to cause considerable damage to a person and falling from a greater height can increase those effects many fold.  But when you consider that there are some people that seek out that feeling, when they know the chances of being hurt have been mitigated or even removed from the equation.  Sky divers, bungee jumping, skiing, snowboarding, and when we were kids sledding down a hill.  The thrill that can come from something dangerous is like crack to some people, and an indulgence to others on occasion.  So what is it that makes us seek out these pits in the first place?

I was a World of Warcraft addict!  It might be proper to some say “I am” addicted, but I believe there are some addictions that can be overcome so much that someone needs not think in that mind frame again.  Overcoming that addiction was key to keeping me out of depression.  Because it is a gain that can easily take you down that hole for years if you have the mindset ready to allow it.  That was me, for years living in my fantasy world of Azeroth.

Somewhere in 2005 I began to play World of Warcraft or WOW to those in the know.  At the time I did not believe I could like the game, at least not as much as I eventually came to like it.  I had tried other MMO’s in the past that touched on fantasy sword and sorcery type games, such as Everquest; and found them not to my liking.  But WOW was much different than those, and I quickly fell into its embrace.

In the basic edition of the game, I became a passionate pvp’er (player vs. player) and started my progression through the ranks.  I had eventually obtained the status of Grand Marshal of the Alliance on my paladin and I did it before many changes made it easier to accomplish.  In those days, I was second in charge of a large guild that had no real drive.  Though looking back, the guild masters was barely there.  So you could say that I ran the guild for most of its time.  The members for the most part were casual players that were just enjoying the game with friends.  But I had become pretty hardcore, you had to be to get the rank of Grand Marshal.  When that was over, I still needed to be “hardcore”!  Deflating from that state of mind was not a possibility at the in those days.  But my guild did not want to raid, or I should say not enough of them wanted to raid.  So I stuck with my pvping.

Another problem arose with a moral code that I had stood by through the game.  I had decided early on that I would be loyal to my guild.  Guild jumpers had become almost a swear to some people.  Imagine relying upon someone, helping them and gearing them up, just so that they would leave for another guild.  I for one did not want to be associated with that title.  So I held firm for some reason, and did not allow myself to recall the simple face: that it was a game.  That was quite a hard task, because when you push something like Grand Marshal, you become friendly with other hardcore minded people.  The same people that ran in the major raiding guilds for instance.  I had offers to join every major guild on the server; numerous times.  But I could not remember it was a game, so most of them let me become an alternate for their raids and I was OK with that.

The first expansion in World of Warcraft was The Burning Crusades.  It was highly anticipated and opened up an entire new world to explore within the game.  My guild went into it with a passion, and I had a good crew of people that had vowed to me that they wanted to raid.  So my excitement for the expansion increased.  After we reached the new level cap of 70 on the game, we quickly geared out; readying ourselves for raiding.  But as in the past, many things fell through.  Karazhan was the first 10 man raid in the expansion, and by all accounts it was fun and relatively easy once you learned the tricks.  The players I took in there, could not pay attention enough to defeat even the first half of bosses and some one that could only defeat the first time.  It was frustrating to say the least and I was reaching my limit in patience.

It was right around then when a good friend of mine who had in the past gotten me into raids and pvp with his guild came to me with an idea.  He wanted to form a raiding guild out of the remaining members of one of the strongest guilds on the server in the past for raiding.  And he also wanted some select people that he knew would do their jobs as well.  It was his goal to become a top raiding guild, not only on the server; but in the US or even world.  Let us say I jumped at the chance, and left my guild on good terms that very day.  That guild beat the expansion, and was one of the top 100 guilds in the world (or perhaps just in the states).

I can truly say that those were good times, and I enjoyed them.  But with recollection comes more things to consider then you might had thought while they were happening.  I explained that I gained Grand Marshal of the Alliance during my times pvping in WOW.  That came at the expense of countless hours a week for months and months.  It was a slow grind and in the end, when I was so close to reaching that goal it became more of an obsession.  For the first time in my life this A type personality came out of me, and I ruled my pvp groups with an iron fist.  I had a waiting list to join my group that was normally over 30 people long; and if someone made even the smallest mistake in my eyes they would be out of the group for a time.  The last two weeks of my ranking push, I played well over 126 hours per week.  I slept, gamed, ordered take out for all my meals and nothing else.  That was my vacation for the year, for one goal that existed only in a fantasy world… just a game!

World of Warcraft

While that was bad, at least I can say that raiding was not nearly that consuming.  It was like working a part time job.  We raiding hard core for at least 4 to 5 days a week, and you were expected to be there ready with your consumable.  The goal of a raider is always to be perfect in a team situation.  You move when you should, you use the abilities you have to the maximum performance you can; and you always pay attention!  If you cannot do those things, then you can’t raid at that level, because that is what it takes and more.  And I did those things for the entirety of the Burning Crusades, and into the next expansion the Wrath of the Lich King.  I healed my ass of for years, working that job, while working full time.  I was good and I suffered greatly in my personal life for that commitment.

That addiction happened during a time in my life, when gaming online was preferable to going out with friends or even family.  I had been in depression for years, and had slowly closed much of my social life off.  On top of that, I was morbidly obese and what comes with that disease is much of the same as depression.  You close down to others, hide, and see interacting with the outside world as a nightmare.  Perhaps that is not how others feel, but it was for me then.  While I am still morbidly obese, my mind has changed a great deal since then and just maybe that was one of the reasons I left the game for good.  I have gone back to it from time to time, when new expansions have been released, or when I had been offered free trials.  But I know fully that I have no passion for such things anymore.  I believe I accomplished everything in the game, and seek other things to take my time away from me.

My Geek Cred: (Part 3) The Final Years Till Now

It was my expectation that the last post would be the final on this subject, but it seems that I am older (or much more long winded) then I had though.  So I hope that I do not sound too pretentious when making what I hope to be the last post finishing out my geek resume.  With my humblest apologizes, I will begin now and wait for the flames to find me.

After reading my past two posts, or perhaps after remembering my history; it seems to me that I might had left certain topics.  Like watching each and every science fiction or fantasy movies that I could find, or even my love of comics for a time or more.  Then I asked myself what topics would truly encompass being a geek? And frankly I came down to the opinion that for some people that could be computers and technology, for others it could be comics or anime, or perhaps fantasy movies and books, maybe it is gaming for some, or even mixed of all of the above.

Still that seemed limited to me!  Yes “geek” culture now encompasses technology with science fiction and fantasy type combinations.  But perhaps it should just be passion that drives one person to be a geek over another.  Could someone be a nature geek?  I believe so, and I am one of those people.  Because of it, I have recently went back to college and gotten a degree in Forest Ecology and Conservation.  Could someone be a NASCAR racing geek, If you’ve ever meet my aunt and uncle, and then seen them off to a race; you would think that they look and seemed incredibly geeky.

But I derail from what my goal today had been.  Let me gather myself, and continue with my life.

Where I had left off, would put me close to 2004.  So I will pick up there, with the first and brightest light in those years.  Do you know where I am heading, it is quite obvious to me of course; and will be to many of you after.  In November of 2004, Blizzard Entertainment released World of Warcraft, and the face of MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) gaming was changed forever.  Perhaps not that drastic, but they did become the new big boy on the block quickly enough.

Though I will first say that I did not buy the game when it first came out.  I had years before tried Everquest, and found myself unhappy with the game.  It was not the size or the time it took to level, for me it was the similarity of characters appearances.  I laugh at that now, but I can be a picky bastard when it comes to my games at times.  Because of that, I never got into many MMO’s at first.

Around 2004 I was playing several games, along with the my MUD’s.  The one game that I spent hours and hours on was then Planetside.  I think I had been playing it since its release, and I had at many times considered playing Star Wars Galaxies as well.  Many of my fellow players on Planetside were also playing Galaxies.  I believe that it was free to those who played Galaxies (though I could be wrong).  But I was so entirely hooked on Planetside that I did not give Star Wars a chance.  I regret that to this day, people still talk fondly about that game.

Then in August of 2005, Planetside became a ghost town.  If you played the game in those days, I am sure you know why.  Sony released a new expansion for their Star Wars Galaxies game, completely destroying their franchise.  In one utterly stupid move, they recreated the entire character system, and took away the one thing that made their game loved.  I do not believe there was another action by a game company as devastating, at least in my option.  So there I was, with nobody to play with on Planetside and in a game that was dependent on other players; it became another failed game.

I left soon after that change and decided to try my hand at World of Warcraft.  I had heard good reviews from both friends and online communities.  It had been many years since I had my disappointment with Everquest and I thought things must had changed since then with fantasy MMO’s.  Well I was surprised and delighted with what I found in that game.  Soon enough, my time online became devoted to WOW and I had discovered that a huge portion of those Star Wars Galaxies players had found their way to the same game.

Many years were devoted to World of Warcraft.  My first and main character had been a paladin.  Like many in those days and now, I tried my hand at Ret Paladin (Retribution).  That satisfied me for a while until I discovered the magic of the reckoning bomb; and from them forth I was a Pro Paladin (Protection).  I must also state that I was not a snob about keeping to my spec and naturally had build up gear for all facets of being a paladin (Healing, Tanking, Fighting).

The entirety of my time playing WOW can be made into a separate section of posts itself.  So let us just say that I PVP’ed my heart out and obtained Grand Master of the Alliance, before it became easier.  I raided with a top 100 guild through Burning Crusade, up through the Sunwell.  Then when Wrath of the Lich King came out, I raided for many months as well.  It was there that I lost steam or even the passion to play.  I retired from World of Warcraft and have only gone back a few times to see if I could rekindle some of that passion again.  It has yet to happen.

I have tried many other MMO’s after World of Warcraft: Everquest 2, Rifts, Age of Conan, Warhammer, Darkfall, Planetside 2 (love this still), Star Wars The Old Republic, EVE, and so many more.  But it seems that WOW has stole the passion for MMO’s from me.  I have since dove more completely back into other things like reading and social gaming.  But I continue to search for a computer game that will allow me to enjoy that type of playing once again.  If not in a more moderated allowance, for I believe MMO’s can suck the life out of a person and the people who want or need their attention.

With the loss of my addiction to MMO’s, I had a gap to fill.  I probably could had filled the time with much of the same things I had done before.  Such as reading, writing, role playing, and all of the things that my geeky heart thrives on.  But I decided for many reasons to head back to college; the time was right and I had gotten put on disability from work.  Oh yes, I did do all of those other things as well… haven’t you been reading?  I am an addict after all.

After 3.5 years, I walked away from college with my bachelors degree and an offer to join a master program.  That masters program will start in a month and a half (as long as I can get the funds required).  As I stated earlier, I received my degree in Forest Ecology and Conservation and hope to begin a masters in Water Sustainability.  I might expect that if you have been reading that these seem to be odd choices for me to have made?  But let me say this… always let your passions guide you and let things that bring you the greatest happiness mark the paths that you walk in life.  It took me a long time to see these things, even with their direct opposition staring me in the face daily.  But we do not always open our minds to what our eyes see and complacency follows, obscuring the difference between what is and what could or should be.  I choose to smile; I choose to walk the paths that I decide and not let them decide for me; and I choose to love: myself, someone special, family and friends, work, hobbies, and of course the most important thing to love, that I am alive (again).

My Geek Cred: (Part 2) Years Into the World(s)

So I spoke of my years up through high school. But I am almost thirty five years old, and I have lived a bit since those days.  Although I have truly had many years past then, I have existed in a haze of depression and fantasy indulgence for a good amount of that time. I have moved past some of the worst of those obsessions and hope for changes that will be more constructive to my life.  But I will leave those explanations for another day and continue my geek cred post with those remaining years past those of my youth.

When high school ended, I like many other kids when away to college.  For the next year I found my new home to be Morgantown, West Virginia and more specifically West Virginia University.  It was over five hundred miles away from my New England hometown, had a football team I loved, and so much natural beauty touch my soul.  I majored in girls, parties, drinking, and oh yes we must not forget Engineering.  It seems odd to this day that I chose that major.  Though perhaps not with the way I excelled in math and my technical drawing classes.

My year at WVU was fun, exciting, and took me out of a shell I had lived in.  Though I cannot say that I was as studious as I should had been; not in the least.  I quickly became the computer expert in my dorm and gained many friends through those first requests for help.  Without the quiet demeanor I had in high school or the nerdy edge that comes with some computer people (especially in those days); I caught many dates and late night… adventures through some of those connections.  But I guess I did not write this blog to talk about my college exploits, so I will leave that for you to fill in.

While I have told you that I have always been a natural with computers, I should explain a few things that make me laugh at that point.  Especially after what I have just said about becoming the computer expert within my dorm.  Yes! I did own a Tandy 1000 EX, but that was the first and only computer that I owned until I moved into college.  Computers were excessively expensive back then, and some would argue they remain still today (not I though).  My parents were both blue collar workers (and one eventually on disability), and did not have the ability to buy me all those luxuries.  So for the years after that Tandy, I used computers mainly through friends and school.  My next computer did not come until I was leaving for college, my uncle and aunt decided that they would co-sign a credit card from an electronics store for me.  With that they paid for most of the computer and let me put some on the card as well.  I only had it out of the box one day before leaving for college, but I loved it and spent many late nights wasting hours on it for years to come.

That computer was a Compaq Presario 4704.  It had a 133 MHz Pentium processor, 1.6 Gig Hard drive, 8 MB of Ram, and Windows 95. I cannot say it was the best or brightest computer for that year; but it would had been top of the line for a production computer then.  Through that computer, I started learning how to work on hardware.  It began with the need of an Ethernet card, to be able to access the college network.  I quickly bought that and installed it without much issue.  I later helped the installation of many more that year, making a few bucks (from the guys) and other things as well.  Since that computer, I have never gone without one and eventually never gone without several at hand.

With that new beautiful piece of equipment, I journeyed into a new world of computer games.  Diablo was my first adventure into online gaming, and one I quickly came to enjoy.  I must now admit that I eventually became an asshole on that game, I would PK (player kill; griefing) anyone and anything.  I had entire guilds hunting me mainly because I was one of those cheating bastards that could get around a few of the mods that kept players from being PKed.  I do not know why I enjoyed it so, but in years to come my PKing become somewhat more honorable on other games.

I started MUDing (Multi-User Dungeon; text based gaming) that year as well.  A friend from high school led me to his MUD, and I took it up with a passion as well.  Eventually I started building areas for that game.  I took it upon myself to make the biggest area I had seen, and to my horror that area was junked by the implementers of the game out of spite for leaving their game for another.  Building was a kin to writing for me, allowing me to build adventures for others to experience and enjoy.  I believe text based games are still underrated, and offer so much for people to experience. If you have yet to experience one, go try one out and see what they are like.  I support one such game today, though I am sure others are just as great: http://www.kotl.org  (Telnet to kotl.org:2222)

The biggest gaming change for me in Morgantown was the lack of Dungeons and Dragons games.  The majority of people I spoke to played GURPS, and while I had played the system in the past… I did not like it.  But to my surprise the other thing that was popular was live action role playing.  They played Mind’s Eye Theatre based off of White Wolf’s World of Darkness universe, which if you’ve been reading, I had loved.  So I delved into live action to fill my need for role playing, and can still say it was one of the best experiences I had with gaming.  We played on the streets of Morgantown, and caught many odd looks to be sure.  The experience is not one I had captured past that year, but will be one I still admire.

Before my year at that college was over, I had finally gathered a group of D&D gamers.  It took what I consider an excessive amount of work on my part.  I from the second month of college there began to put up gaming flyers all over college and in parts of the town.  Each flyer eventually had the tags removed or went missing themselves, but I would get no calls or emails.  It was not until the last months of school within the spring semester when interest was shown and by then school was almost to an end.

After that first year, I was unable to go back to WVU.  I began to work full time, and tried community college for a time.  I eventually landed a job with a major telecom company that was expanding itself.  Specifically I landed a job in their new internet department, working as a technical support agent supporting dialup and DSL customers.  The best part to that job, was that I ended up on third shift working with a small overnight crew.

I assume you must be wondering why I would think that would be a benefit?  After all third shift is a life sucking hole which causing most people to have issues eventually.  It was the team of people that I ended up with, I believe there were eight of us on that shift when I started and since the work days overlapped we always had at least six at a time in house.  Out of those people, at least four were self-proclaimed hackers who loved UNIX and Linux with a passion, would code all night long, and spend hours doing things in external shell accounts and making printouts of nonsensical data (for those not in the know). The other four members of the team, including myself with gamers, all computer gamers (well the hackers too), at least three role players, and all around online/computer junkies.  I learned a lot from those people, am still in touch with a few, and still hold one as one of my best friends to this day.

The job required a medium amount of computer knowledge to start.  But with such influences around me I began to feed on knowledge with a frenzy.  While there I acquired an A + certification, and a Networking + certification.  I learned a lot about UNIX and Linux, and began my studies for a CCNA certification (Cisco Certified Network Associate).  The design of websites also became in my view, and I learned HTML and a little more coding (I had learned some C and C++ in high school and college). Let us just say that I became quite proficient in many aspects of computers.  But as time went on after leaving that job behind, much of that knowledge as faded like distant memories.

I bought my first domain in those years, and it is currently pointed at this blog; for I have not used it in years (http://www.darkreality.com).  That site was my first big step past a fortunecity or anglefire website that I had used in the past for fun things.  Darkreality.com started as a place for people to post stories, poetry, music, art, or anything creatively inclined with a darker (gothic, metal, edgy) foundation.  That was my goal at least, to bring people together and have a place for sharing that material.  The site was a hit!  To my great surprise and delight, I had thousands of hits and hundreds of people giving material.  I had at least two music labels asking for me to write reviews and post songs from their bands; after which they sent me free cd’s to do so.  And one book publisher wanting the same for a soon to be released book.  Let us just say that I was overwhelmed with the amount of material and response; I did not have the resources or skill to bring that site to the level at which it was climbing.  If I had only sought out help in that endeavor.  That is still one of the biggest disappointments of my past, especially now knowing I could had made a living off of that site.

My work friends and I founded our main gaming group during those years.  That group has been gaming (not with the same people other than us two) for about twelve years now, we rotate game masters every year or two to give others a chance to play.  While I do have other groups and have played in many other games; that one brings me the most joy out of all of them.  Perhaps it is because I helped found the game and am the one who actively searching for players when others leave.

The other passion that I quickly picked up; once my college pursuits were over, was reading again.  For the first time ever, I read with delight and enjoyment! I just could not get enough and I still cannot to this day.  Soon I found two of my favorite authors, Robert Jordan and George R. R. Martin.  I found that I liked long epic stories and searched out more, and found a weakness within myself; I could not stop reading a series that I liked, and had to have each book that followed.  Since those years, I have read hundreds if not more books.  I have found that I mainly enjoy fantasy, but am willing to try science fiction titles as well.  On occasion I have ventured out into historical fiction titles or other fiction that seems almost historical like that of Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O’Brian.  So I became addicted to a new form of fiction, and one I will never give up completely.