Monthly Archives: November 2014
November 27, 2014
Legs burning and arms spent, this is bad news. I’m only halfway done and I’m already dragging my feet. Before I can think about my aches and pains anymore, my friend calls out to me, “Yo, Q! Look, it’s your favorite obstacle!” Great! Just what I needed. There’s only 3 things in this world I hate; Spiders, heights, and cold water. I really hate cold water and when I say I hate cold water, I really really hate cold water.
Up ahead was the Arctic Enema, which was basically a glorified ice-bucket. It was a garbage dumpster filled with ice and water with a strategically placed vertical board in the middle that forced each runner to dunk their entire body into the frigid ice water in order to go under the board and get out. This was already a cold 55 degree November day and it had been raining the entire time, promising no warmth when we get out of the water. We three fools, Steve, Eric, and I, lined up across the edge of the dumpster. We gave each other a hopeful look, praying that one of us would skip this obstacle and then we could follow suit keeping our pride intact. Instead we agreed that on the count of 3 we’d all jump- in. My friend Steve led the count and, as I listened, I closed my eyes preparing myself for what was to come.
Two years ago, I was sitting on my high school friend’s couch. My friend Mackenzie went to the same high school as me and as we were catching up, trading crazy freshmen college stories, he asked if I wanted to do a Spartan Race. I naively asked what he was talking about. He showed me YouTube videos of guys and girls, all muddy struggling through obstacles designed to inflict pain on anyone who dared to attempt them. I looked at him and said, “Are you crazy?! Why would I ever pay close to $100 bucks to go through a day of pain and torment?” Mackenzie tried to persuade me with all of the “perseverance, moral lesson” bologna, but I had made up my mind that only crazy people would do this.
After I left his house and got back to mine, it continued to peak my interest. I spent the next several hours researching everything I could about it. I watched every YouTube video and read every blog post I could. The more I looked, the more intrigued I became. To me, it wasn’t just a run on a mountain with some ropes, sandbags, and mud; it was a challenge. It looked at me and said, “You can’t conquer me. I dare you to try.” I called Mackenzie the next day and signed up for my first Spartan Race, a Spartan Sprint, 3-5 miles and 15+ obstacles on Blue Mountain Ski Resort. I had no idea that those 10 simple words, “Do you want to do a Spartan Race with me?”, would lead me to an obstacle racing addiction. An addiction that has lead me to complete a Spartan Sprint, Super Spartan, Warrior Dash, and Tough Mudder in the past two years. An addiction that has made me loathe the words, “I can’t”. An addiction that pushes me to seek out the next challenge, the next mountain that tells me I can’t conquer it, the next test that dares me to try.
Now I find myself on the other side, convincing my friends to run these crazy races with me. I show them the YouTube videos and tell them all the “perseverance, moral lessons” bologna. At first they call me, and anyone who does them, insane, crazy, delusional, or mentally instable. Then after sometime they all come to the same realization that it’s not about the ropes, sandbags, and mud, but about the challenge; the fact that there is something out there that thinks it can beat you and break your will.
$100 bucks, a Saturday and some driving to see what I’m made of – I can do that.
November 20, 2014
In 2013, a little show called The Office came to an end. To celebrate the success of the show, they hosted “The Office Wrap Up Party” in the city that was home to the show throughout it’s time on the air (Scranton, PA). The Wrap Up Party was a weekend long event that drew thousands of people to Scranton for the different events. The company I was working for at the time sold the tickets to all of these events. We were asked to volunteer and help scan the tickets at the different events, and of course I immediately jumped at the opportunity to be involved with the entire weekend.
I was thrilled to be helping out at such a large and exciting event. About half way through the day on Saturday, to thank us for all of our help with the chaos of the tickets and floods of people, we were invited to the small, private after party at the hotel the cast was staying at in Scranton. Needless to say, I was beyond excited. I was going to be in the same room as Michael Scott, Jim and Pam, Dwight, and the rest of the cast. I couldn’t believe I was getting such an opportunity!
Fast forward a few hours, and I’m sitting in a small banquet hall at a table directly next to Steve Carell. We were given strict instructions not to take any pictures or ask for any with the cast, which was probably the hardest part of the night (I constantly wanted to take over the shoulder selfies with them in the background), but I was just excited to be there. I got in line for food, and was right behind Oscar Nuñez; we exchanged some awkward eye contact as I leaned over to see what there was to eat, and naturally I froze and missed my opportunity to compliment the show. Walking away with my food, I passed Rainn Wilson and Kevin Malone having a private conversation – more awkward eye contact ensued. I had never been more enthusiastic about that many awkward encounters.
I was the most excited to be in the same room as John Krasisnki. Along with so many other females, I, of course, think he’s very attractive. This was the moment every average girl waits for – her chance of meeting a handsome celebrity where the two just naturally click, and he instantly falls in love with her. It’s the stuff you see in movies, and c’mon, his life is a movie so it could totally happen, right? Oh, he’s married to that beautiful actress Emily Blunt? No problem, he just hasn’t met me yet.
After what seemed like far too short of a time at the hotel, they were ushering the cast out for a night out at one of Scranton’s bars. I hadn’t gotten a chance to stage my “accidental” bump into John Krasisnki yet, and was suddenly realizing my time was coming to an end. We then were invited to go to the bar with the cast and all of the other people that helped orchestrate the event. I was all for it, ready to get another shot, until I suddenly remembered the one unfortunate fact that would keep me from my fate. I was 20 years old at the time… about a month shy of my 21st birthday. I was faced with the decision to either try to deceive everyone, and see if I could be let in, or I could tell the truth and maybe they’d make an exception. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to put my boss or myself into that type of legal situation. So, I told the truth and reminded everyone that I was not of age. As expected, no exceptions would be made, and not even the promise to not consume any alcoholic drinks would help my case. And that is where my almost-date with destiny ends.
And as I watched the cast head to their next destination, out walked my chance to live happily ever after with John Krasinski (I know, you definitely didn’t see that coming, right?).
November 11, 2014
“Not really,” I’ll respond. “Pac Man totally holds up though,” I’ll tell them.
Once upon a time video games conjured the image of a pimple faced thirty-something comfortably nestled in his mother’s basement rocking an AC/DC shirt and cramming some Hot Pocket equivalent into his face. This is an image that has stuck with gaming culture – perpetually shimmying us into the corner next to the D&D kids. But not anymore: Gamers that once stacked quarters on arcade machines, eagerly awaiting their turn, now own companies, lead countries and create art. We’re household names now – and it didn’t happen by accident – it happened because modern games are the culmination of decades of business expertise, artistic innovation and technological advancements.
Bungie, the developers behind the first few Halo games, have an upcoming venture called Destiny, which is costing publisher Activision $500,000,000 to develop and market. But why in the name of all that is holy would anyone spend that much money? Because it’ll eventually make far more than that. Gaming has become more than a hobby – it’s a cultural phenomenon that has seeped into nearly every corner of our previously mundane lives and assimilated into the super-mega-ultimate life we live now. From the media we consume on a daily basis to the time we spend at our jobs, the principles of game design are there.
Gamification: Gaming in Real Life
Within more recent business strategies is a concept called gamification, which boils down to applying elements of game design to real life situations. Being that the concept is still in its relative infancy, there is no magic 8 ball to dictate how to use gamification, but the goal is to breed a collaborative and interactive employee experience. The rewards for such practices are generally intrinsic – the assumption being that an employee will work harder if he or she is given a clear goal, which is framed as a reward.
Marketing: A Game that Works on Us Every Day
Many consumer-facing businesses know that they can’t plaster an image on a park bench and pray someone buys a product. We’ve become too dedicated to participation – businesses need to sell us a product. For example, many blockbuster films now include a dedicated budget for mobile companion games. These are designed to be easily digestible, heavily rewarding experiences that appeal to the widest possible swath of human persons. The games act as a Pavlovian system that will trick the player into associating an entire brand with success – often eliciting a jolt of serotonin when mentioned. When all is said and done the mobile games cost relatively little to develop, and end up making the brand as a whole a fortune through various other channels (be it ticket sales, merchandising, etc.).
Games: The Natural Culmination of All Art
The easiest and possibly most meaningful comparison many draw to gaming is the relation to film (and by extension the arts as a whole). At one point society didn’t believe film could deliver a convincing story or fair amount of entertainment value – which is a current parallel to gaming’s current image. The invention 3D games also injected adrenaline into the special effects and animation industries; let’s not forget that many animators work in film and gaming, as many of the principles of continuity and mise en scene (or a visual theme) applies to both.
I could go on for ages about how the evolution of gaming has changed our day-to-day lives – but more than anything, the take away is the experience. Chances are we’ll never have the ability to shoot fireballs out of our hands or infiltrate a top-secret Soviet facility during the Cold War, but we can do that in games. We can actively participate in a universe that changes depending upon our decisions. This, in turn, translates to the real world: Do you want to save the world like that character did? Look at any of the charities started by gaming communities who were inspired to emulate a digital hero.
We’re not in the basement anymore. We’ve influenced art, politics and society as a whole. We’ve organized dedicated social communities that number in the tens of millions. We’ve made and destroyed businesses. We’ve created universes and sometimes managed to better our own.
November 4, 2014
One thing I have always loved to do is travel. As soon as my friends and I were old enough to go on adventures, our first stop was New York City. We used to take the bus into New York City on the weekends and explore all of what the city had to offer. Once we became familiar with the East Coast, we were ready to take on the West Coast. Los Angeles was our next stop. My friends and I ended up going out to LA 3 summers in a row! Then, during my senior year in high school, I found out that my school was offering a trip to Europe. This was next on my travel to-do list, and I signed up immediately. A group of thirty of my high school class mates were able to embark on this crazy adventure! We had the best times venturing through Italy, Germany, Austria, and the Czech-Republic.
My travel bug has continued throughout college. My sophomore year, a group of my close friends and I were able to sign up on our school’s spring break trip to London. I immediately fell in love with London. London was a place I had always wanted to go and it was even better than I had imagined.
While I was here, I would go and take dance classes at Pineapple Studios during my free time, and after I got home, I knew that I had to go back. A few months later, I came back to London to do a dance summer school program at Laban, and was able to spend a month in London with one of my close friends. After I got home, I wanted to figure out another way to get back to London again, and that is how I ended up with this internship! Once I am done with the internship, I will be taking the same dance summer school program that I did last summer. My summer in London is full of many new and exciting adventures!