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Being an Academic Gamer (How I Play Games)

5th year? Pfft. I am already there, brother.

Y'ALL.  I'm gonna tell you what it's like to be an academic and a gamer and an academic studying games all at the same time/why being a crazy-pants grad student influences the way I play games.

Grad school is hard. 

How hard is grad school, you ask?  Well, I am one of four students admitted into my graduating class--it's a pretty competitive program (derp), which means a lot is expected of us.  On average, for example, I read between 300-500 pages of academic journal articles  every week, and write between 40-70 pages of journal articles, annotated bibliographies, and other stuffy nonsense every semester.

Oh, and I teach a college class (Introduction to Public Speaking).

That is a LOT OF *** TO DO.

True life.

So when people ask me, "Hey grrrl heeeeeey, have you played [insert new release] yet?" and I say "LOL NOPE" and they go "That is super lame, are you even a gamer?" (or something), I get mad.  But the worst part about it all is, they're sort of right.  As an academic, a gamer, and an academic studying game studies (three totes different things), I often end up playing just one (or three) games at a time, and it takes me for-e-ver.  Forever.  I have been playing Pokemon Black since it came out.  It took me three months to finish Skyward Sword, and I love Zelda so much I have a Deku Scrub tattoo on my forearm. SAD NEWS BEARS.

So here's a list of three ways in which my gaming habits/preferences are strongly influenced or completely dictated by the fact that I'm an academic/grad student/insert other ivory tower title.

1) I play games that are several years old, and after everyone else has already played them (and often, after I have already played them...sometimes multiple times).  Case-in-point: When I researched archetypes of femininity in The Legend of Zelda series back in 2009, I had to spend a year replaying Ocarina of TIme, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess.  I had already played those games dozens of times, and I would have much rather played Lost Winds: Winter of the Melodias or Spirit Tracks, but I had research to do, darn it, and I was going to take notes of every character in all three of those games if it killed me.  AND I DID. BAM.  

I still haven't played this game. Isn't it pretty?

2) I play new games sloooowwwlyyyyy.  This is partly because I am both a completionist and someone who just enjoys dinkin' around (I started Skyrim a while back and have barely advanced the storyline, but my alchemy is through the roof), but it's mostly because I literally, actually do not have the free-time to finish games at normal-person speed.  Someday, I will have a normal-ish job that lets me at least take most weekends off (preferably I'd have evenings off, too! WOW! can you imagine it?!)...but today is not that day.  Until then, I'll resign myself to not finishing Pokemon Black for another year or whatever and tearing the wings off butterflies to make sick Damage Magicka Regen potions (did you know those things can sell for, like, 300 gold?).  

Me (omg I heart Zecora so much)

3) I study communication studies, and focus on critical media studies--specifically, issues of gender and sexuality.  In normal-speak, this means I critique the ways in which systems and structures of power oppress and marginalize groups of people such as women, transgender people, and children. Therefore, I tend to stay away from games I know would infuriate me based off their depictions of women (or men) or other marginalized groups, or based off their obvious and/or purposeful perpetuation of heteronormative, white-male, GUNS N MURRCA, U.S. culture.  I haven't enjoyed an FPS since Halo II (and even then, I'm pretty sure I went home from my friend's house crying more than once because some dickwad on XBL said something stupid and mean). Even now that I'm not being called a *** online (because I try to avoid places where idiots thrive), it is really hard for me to enjoy things that I critique so harshly in my professional life.  So it's pretty unlikely that you'll ever catch me being excited about some new CoD release or Skullgirls.

CoD: Perpetuating tropes about U.S. blow-em-up-man's-man-***-the-police culture since whenever the stupid games first came out.

So, there you are.  Three ways in which my gaming habits/styles differ from most of my pals', due to the fact that I'm an academic.  

How do YOU play games? How does your work, education, or personal life dictate the way you play games?  Does this baffle your friends?  Do their reactions to your particular gaming habits and/or preferences make you want to spit in their food?

*Cross-posted at my personal blog, "No, I Am a Dog." 

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