Archive for June 2nd, 2008


Varsity Video Gaming

As video games become more popular and respected as a legitimate form of entertainment, and organized tournaments offer large prizes and global fame to world-class gamers, when can we expect to see high school teams competing against one another in virtual combat? High school students have many opportunities to get involved in their schools. While there are the standard sports of football, basketball, baseball, softball, and wrestling, many new activities are gaining popularity. Have you seen the cheerleaders today? Some schools teams that compete at chess; they debate one another, or even engage in mock trials. With all these activities, why not have a video game team?


This concept is not as far fetched as it may first seem. Craig Waechtler, a math teacher at Rocklin High School in northern California, has created a console gaming club. This team competes against a couple other schools in the Sacramento area. For the past two years, these tournaments have included GRAW, GRAW 2, and even Guitar Hero III. The club provides another opportunity for students to be a part of the school culture. Just like for sports, the team members must pass all of their classes in order to stay on the team. Furthermore, they also learn valuable skills such as teamwork and cooperation just like they would on a sports team.


As these clubs expand to other schools, how long until we see letterman jackets with a controller emblem on them? With network gaming available through services like XBOX Live, teams from all over the country, even the world, could compete against one another from the comfort of their own classrooms.


If anyone is a part of a school gaming club, let me know.



The Secret Life of a Strategy Guide Writer

Last time: I wrote about getting my first job in the industry. This time: I’ll save my anecdotes about my time at the part fraternity, part sanitarium known as GameFan Magazine for a future blog, and instead explain what goes into a guide’s creation.


Part 1: Getting Into the Game.


When I actually leave the confines of my Doombase to interact with other human beings, it’s usually at the local game store, the question I’m asked most often (aside from “who the hell are you?” and “why should I care?”), is by the game staff, and goes something along the lines of “it must be great sitting around playing games all day.” I assume it would be, if that’s all I did. In fact, explaining that making a video game guide isn’t quite as straightforward as polishing off a game and then banging out some prose was the basis of writing that book I doggedly refuse to stop hawking: Video Game Careers.


For my job in particular, there’s a whole lot more than steaming through a game on a big-screen TV, sipping Iron Bru. Whether I’m checking every nook and cranny in a particular playfield, learning how to avoid overwhelming my Xbox 360 debug’s internal memory on a Beta version of a game, or going frame-by-frame through collected footage to showcase just the right action shot, every guide writing is a collaborative, crazy, but ultimately rewarding job. Next time, I’ll show what preparation goes into a guide, before the game even arrives.


Just finished: Writing a Chapter on Spore, and creating some crazy-looking vehicles.


Currently: Wading through a spectacular and massive RPG I can’t mention the name of.


About to: Spend ten weeks thoroughly exploring the RPG’s hidden hideyholes.

June 2008
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