Monday, August 22, 2011

[Ungodly Cravings] #2: World of Warcraft

This is the second installment in my Ungodly Cravings series, and it will reveal a few aspects of my life that I had originally intended to keep quiet about when I started this blog. In any case, something I will admit I was addicted to for a year was the ridiculously popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft.

The release of the Cataclysm expansion pushed back my scheduled quit date.

I started playing in January 2010 after I obtained my BA in Journalism that past December. I had impulsively decided to pursue a second BA and was taking only two classes that semester, so I was bored and found some interest in WoW when my boyfriend left his character screen pulled up on his laptop while he was in class.

At the time, nearly everyone in my circle of friends played WoW and went on raids in the same guild. My roommate (the one I mentioned in my 4th of July post) had also just gotten lured into the game, and she and I ended up starting characters together. We played the Alliance side (although I also played Horde) and had a lot of fun questing and leveling while the guys continued to trespass Ice Crown Citadel in repeated attempts to kill the Lich King. (Arthas should have just filed a restraining order against them).

Something I've gotten used to seeing is real life males playing female characters. My friends are all guys who played female toons, including my boyfriend. To counter that, I decided that my main character would be a male Night Elf Druid named Orifiel.

Here is a picture of Orifiel when he was level 80, circa spring of 2010:

"Ah, yes, my photo op by the Dalaran fountain in my outdated Tier 9 gear."

My boyfriend played a transsexual Draenei Shaman. Named Orchead. (Orchead used to be a male Orc with apparent aspirations to become pretty). Ironically, my friends couldn't fathom why I would play a male character, so I told them it was the same reason they all played female characters. But to this day, I honestly think they still don't get it. Bloody double standards.

So I went around masquerading as a guy in-game, and no one other than my friends had any inkling that I was a girl. I tend to communicate in a gender-neutral fashion online, which got Orifiel hit on several times by other female gamers. Awkward.

I picked the Druid class because I wanted to try out the tank, DPS, and healer positions without having to create another character. I soon discovered that I panic too much to be a decent healer, and my tanking skills were roughly equivalent to a 9-year-old dragging his face across the keyboard. Feral DPS it was.

Once I hit level 80, I joined my boyfriend's guild, where everyone referred to us as the gender-confused couple. I liked to make snarky comments in Guild Chat about being the one who wore the pants in the relationship. Even though my character's Tier 9 wardrobe included a skirt.

Here is a loving photo of my big, beefy Night Elf (in full Druid skirt ensemble) with my boyfriend's curvaceous, sexy Draenei (wearing the Tier 10 moose skull--er, Shaman helm), circa summer of 2010:

"Our love defies the boundaries of gender!"

By fall of 2010, nearly everyone in our group had graduated college and/or stopped playing WoW. My boyfriend and I were the only ones left, and while he remained loyal to the guild, I was in the middle of transferring to a PVE server since I had been ganked enough times to despise PVP. It got to the point where it just wasn't much fun playing on a server by myself, so I prepared to quit, too.

However, once Cataclysm came out, I stuck around to create a Worgen character and played it from level 1-85 in a month. She eventually became my main. My final character roster includes an 85 Worgen Balance/Restoration Druid, an 80 Night Elf Holy/Shadow Priest, an 80 Night Elf Feral DPS/Feral Tank Druid (Orifiel), and an assortment of lesser regarded alts.

And then I stopped playing in January 2011.

I really didn't have any inclination to play again until these past few weeks when I started watching The Guild. If you're not an MMO player, you probably won't understand it very much, but it's a comedy web series about a group of people who play an MMO together and how their gaming affects their lives and relationships.

This is a music video the cast released during the third season:

So now I'm having strong urges to start my WoW subscription again, especially since my boyfriend finally left our old, dying server and has joined a new guild on a lively one. I've managed to hold back, though, mainly because I haven't had a desktop computer set up since we moved to Destin. I don't even have a desk anymore to set it up on.

This is probably a good thing since I should be partaking in more productive activities, such as working on my writing career, continuing the impossible job search, and stalking my undergraduate professors for grad school recommendation letters. And I get distracted enough as it is by Xbox games (Fable III held my attention for nearly two weeks straight).

In conclusion, I'm proud to announce that this is one craving I haven't given into.

For now.

-J. S. Blancarte


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The GRE experience

Hello, I'm back. I took the GRE on August 6 but had to go on hiatus from productivity for nearly two weeks due to the devastating whiplash the math content had on my IQ. While I'm fairly confident that I made reasonably good scores on the analytical writing and verbal reasoning sections, I'm also fairly confident that my scores on the quantitative reasoning section labeled me as borderline retarded to prospective graduate programs.

Attempting to relearn math I hadn't even looked at since I was a teenager was a dreadful, esteem-shattering process. My study sessions were grim and depressing, and I suspect I ended up knowing even less than I did before I started studying. As a result, I withered into a zombified state and took the GRE looking and feeling like a mathematically incompetent corpse.

I've already made it pretty clear in the last post that I experience the same amount of enthusiasm working with math as I do cleaning up a pile of vomit. But while I was (futilely) studying for it, not only was I in a perpetual mood of self-pity and sorrow, I was also quick to anger and verbally violent toward any hapless soul who happened to wander within ten feet of my presence.

I dropped more F-bombs during the weeks leading up to the GRE than I had this entire season. Now, I'm not normally accustomed to swearing excessively (or even regularly), but when infuriated to this point, my vocabulary regresses into a trove of obscenities as I become the epitome of the term "potty-mouth." I even drew a graph detailing the relation of my anger level to the number of F-bomb occurrences.

I also discovered, to my surprise, that my weakest points in math aren't graph problems...they're (ironically) word problems. You'd think that someone highly efficient in words would have no trouble with written math problems, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, although I could comprehend what they were asking (the word part), I couldn't figure out how to find the answer (the math part).

For example:

Martha invited 4 friends to go with her to the movies. There are 120 different ways in which they can sit together in a row of 5 seats, one person per seat. In how many of those ways is Martha sitting in the middle seat?

If this had been a multiple choice question, I would have looked for the answer that said, "I DON'T BLOODY CARE." First of all, while I can (kind of) see how this type of equation could apply to real life, I found minimal inspiration in solving it, for the following reasons:

1) I highly doubt Martha is picky enough to demand the middle seat out of the "120 different ways in which they can sit together in a row of 5 seats."

2) If all five of them want to sit together, I would suggest they arrive at the theater early to get first choice in seating.

3) Even if they can't all sit in a row, they could always split off into two groups and have one group sit in the row behind the other.

4) Martha didn't invite me so I have little concern for their dilemma.

5) This question is stupid.

And yes, I got the answer wrong when I seriously tried to solve it, by the way.

So after my atrocious performance on the quantitative reasoning section, I left the test center praying that the psychology department at UMass Boston would be too dazzled by my writing and verbal skills to notice my startling mathematical deficiencies.

I was traumatized enough that I spent the past eleven days doing nothing but playing Fable III. After finishing the game four times, I figured my emotional health had sufficiently recovered and I should probably start being productive again. So here I am.

I'll be catching up on blog posts and chapters on Whiskey Tea Cafe as well as resuming my job search. If you're a returning reader, thanks for your continued interest in my writing!

-J. S. Blancarte