While attending school, everyone will usually talk about English, math, or science. Every other subject is typically generalized or never mentioned for being considered an extra class. Taking a physical education or arts doesn’t even get considered an actual subject that affects academics heavily. It’s easy to forget that things like arts are apart of education too. Learning doesn’t have to be about where certain punctuation can go or how to add some numbers. For example, Michael learned how much small interactions can mean to certain people. That’s a lesson most people won’t even consider to be as education. The current education system focuses a bit too much on math and English, this can be seen through standardized testing. The two subjects, math and English, are probably what hold back students across the country. Looking back at when I took the Catholic high school standardized test, I only got into my high school for something that didn’t test my math or English proficiency, but my ability to learn. There was a whole section grades called ability which simply tested your ability to understand and solve puzzles quickly. I kind of wish that education tested students in a variety of topics that test ability in some form and apply an education to their strengths. It’s a bit of a utopian idea but it’s something that would help many people learn things outside of words and numbers. But then again, there are some things that only life experiences can teach, such as a fear of falling under the pressure or how much of a difference you can make by yourself.
February 14th, 2019
Among the rubble of a destroyed city, a woman wearing a black military uniform, red armband, and black hair tied in a ponytail runs to take cover behind a pillar of high that has collapsed and now holds itself up from its own remains above her. Slinging her marksman rifle over her shoulder, she looks down the scope and watches a tall man made of metal, with a minigun fused onto its right arm, slowly march its way over to a man hiding behind another pillar 30 meters away with an assault rifle between him and the metallic man. Adjusting her view, the woman flicks off the safety and takes a deep breath as her finger lifts off of the trigger guard and onto the trigger right before…
Scenes like this are what filled my mind for several years of my life. The scene written above was taken from when I roleplayed online with people in a sandbox game called Garry’s Mod on a server themed around the Terminator universe. The event ended up with my character experiencing a near death experience after taking the attention of the terminator away from her teammate, where the terminator turned and fired its minigun in her direction with the bullets tearing through the concrete and through her ballistic plate vest. Even though there is such a story behind it with, what was to me, such vivid images, there was no animation from the models for all the things that happened. I along with two other people typed out sentence by sentence the actions that took place. Through watching how people structured their sentences, I slowly picked up the basics of grammar which are lessons that I take with me today because it just feels natural for me at this point. Garry’s Mod wasn’t the only game that I learned grammar through. I even started through a game called Warcraft III which came out in 2002, and then an expansion in 2004 called The Frozen Throne. After watching my brother do it a couple of times, I got an interest and tried it myself. Since I was only eight at the time, the things I learned showed in my ability to increase my ‘reading level’ throughout elementary school. I got to excel in writing assignments and my teachers always considered me a good reader, which I only have my experiences of roleplaying to thank.
It’s also amusing to me that during my years of roleplaying through video games online, the ones that often had mistakes in their grammar were the ones who tried to correct others. They often were disliked and given the term ‘Grammar Nazi’ to describe them. Most people never bothered with correcting someone, unless they were atrocious, so those who did it regularly were naturally disliked. The greatest fall of a grammar nazi was the moment they made a mistake and were called out for being full of shit. I naturally never paid attention to these things too much, but it was amusing to watch people argue out of character over the small things. These small things were exposed to me and I got to learn niches in grammar that I’m sure I would never use, however no such experience stands out to me after not interacting with roleplaying for years. With these years away from roleplaying though, I can proudly look back and see the other things I’ve learned from video games.
I’ve learned the composition of air by looking at filters on a space station, learned the geography of Europe slowly while establishing myself as a great power after starting as a lowly elector in the Holy Roman Empire in 1444, and so much more. Through a variety of games, I was able to be exposed to a variety of scenarios which taught me so many things. Video games can be a great way to learn things and it’s disappointing to me that so many people consider them a waste of time where nothing can be learned. Stating that video games bring out violent tendencies in people and are only harmful to children is a view that I can’t help but feel is ignorant. I can’t deny that video games often get people rowdy due to some people’s competitive nature, but to say that games only make people violent seems off when gamers are stereotypically shut ins, who are abnormally quiet when outside. I’ve seen people who could tell you facts about random parts of World War 2. If you wanted to know what tanks were reliable and which were a pile of junk, or the facts of battleships such as the Konigsburg or the St. Louis cruiser, there is a person who can tell you all about it depending on which gaming community that is explored. I personally view games as a great way to learn things, it just takes a little bit of searching past the most popular titles.
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Reading through Gilyard’s writing, the thing I admire most is his ability to write whatever is on his mind. The second to last paragraph in part VIII where Gilyard describes his agonies from withdrawal especially shows the imaging that I would question writing myself. I’ve enjoyed writing and have written short stories before, but I would never be able to continue a string of images consisting of “holes in his arm large enough to drip dope into them directly” straight to putting those holes “alongside vaginas. On penises.”(158). Even speaking of his mistakes and near missed like when he “was given a 40 in English” on his regeants. The reading was enjoyable as a result due to the casual feel that came with Gilyard writing so openly. I personally didn’t have much I didn’t enjoy about the reading other than it being long, which isn’t that much of an issue when enjoying it. If I were to write of such events from my own experiences, I don’t think I would be able to finish it. I’ve always been conservative with information I consider personal, and to open up in such a way just as Gilyard did, it is a dream that I could only wish to be able to.