Gaming's Environmental Impact

If you play video games, you've probably been offended, at some point or another, by the ridiculously bad rap that gamers all too often receive. From invoking violence to brainwashing the youth, you'd think that gamers were the world's most fearsome terrorist organization. While most of the accusations about video games that make the headlines are unfair and based on questionable "evidence", there are always ways for gamers to step up their act in a proud and dignified manner. One of the more legitimate problems with playing video games is the impact that it has on the environment, and it's a fairly simple one for players to address.

Unfortunately, when I went to do a bit of research for this blog post, most of what I found when looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of gaming were some rather insulting and unhelpful articles with titles like "People Playing Video Games Not Concerned About Its Environmental Impact". While this is clearly a broad and dubious statement, I was not able to find as much information on how to improve gaming habits as I would've liked. However, since the environment has long been a concern of mine, I can hopefully offer some advice based on my general knowledge of the subject in addition to what I've found specifically pertaining to video games.

One of the easiest, most effective, and financially smart things to do is to simply unplug your appliances when they're not in use. Even when electronic devices like video consoles aren't being used, they can still use up a ton of energy just by being plugged into the wall. An easy way to achieve this effect for your computer is to simply plug everything into a power strip and at the end of the day, flip the switch. It may seem like a pain, going around and making sure everything's no longer using power, but if you're like me, it's worth it if for no other reason than to get rid of all those stupid glowing lights that keep you up at night. These sort of habits are also beneficial in that they can substantially prolong the lifespans of your appliances.

Something that you should always do for a great number of reasons is to do your research before buying. If you were to, say, go out right now and purchase a PlayStation 3, you'd have several options. As far as energy efficiency is concerned, the newer PlayStation 3 Slims use about half as much energy as the original release PS3s and are cheaper. This is usually the case when comparing new and old versions of a console. You should also consider things like controllers. Buying brand new batteries for your XBox 360 wireless controller every time they run out would be costly and stupid when there are many other sensible solutions out there.

While I wasn't able to find any sort of specific information on the subject, I can pretty much gaurantee you that buying used and refurbished will save you lots of money and energy. I know that every once in a while, you're dying to bust open a brand new game on the day it's released, but if you're just browsing for something new to try, I seriously suggest going used. Especially in this day and age, discs are being made more and more resilient, making "used" hardly any different than "new". As far as consoles go, refurbs aren't always entirely reliable so again, do your research. Make sure that you're getting it from a legitimate vendor and that you hold onto your receipt.

Aside from those easily doable suggestions on how to reduce your environmental impact, there are always more ways to make a difference, so long as it's something that you care about. So keep your mind open and prove the biased, judgemental media wrong.

Some articles that I stumbled upon while writing this post:
"People Playing Video Games Not Concerned With Its Environmental Impact"
"Energy Savers: When to Turn Off Personal Computers"
"PS3 Slim uses half the power of PS3 'fat'"


[ATG] Addiction to Gaming

Last week, I sent out fifteen Team Fortress 2-themed holiday cards. They did not go out to family or old friends as one might expect. Instead, I sent the cards to fifteen of my fellow ATG members--only a few of whom I've met in real life. I became a part of the community/clan known as "Addiction to Gaming" or "ATG"--founded in 2009 by [ATG] Newman, [ATG] Stephen, and [ATG] Joe--back in August. I discovered the community through its TF2 servers--the 24/7 Badwater one, to be more specific. After playing there a few times, I found the overall attitude of the server and its regulars to be lots of fun, so I decided to stick around. Enticed by the all-talk key config that ATG offered on their forums, I made up my mind to introduce myself and begin posting regularly to further get to know the many, uh, interesting personalities that I had become familiar with in-game.

It wasn't long before I began to feel very much at home with everyone at Addiction to Gaming. I was welcomed quite graciously and discovered that there were many people there who had similar interests to me, even outside of Team Fortress 2 and other games like Left 4 Dead 2 and Starcraft II. After some time, ATG's self-appointed "recruitment officer", [ATG] Steak House asked me to where the clan tag in my screen name. At first, I was reluctant, as I've always been put-off by the idea of clans. But after I did, a sense of pride came over me. Not only did my playing stats improve (as is the case with most members), but I genuinely felt that I had become part of a very cool community--one that wasn't fueled by the ego-mania and bullying that I had observed of so many other clans, but rather, a simple desire to play well and have fun doing it.

Since I became active several months ago, I have met several people from ATG in real life. In November, Steak House took me and my boyfriend, who is also part of ATG (he's known as "Geoth" online), out for dinner. A couple weeks later, Steak had a bunch of us stay at his company's lodge in Michigan for a weekend. There were seven of us, total...as pictured above, left to right: [ATG] Stephen (in our hearts, anyway), Fluffy Harmless Kitten, [ATG] wisoka, Mala, Magus, [ATG] Geoth, me ([ATG] Tobuoi or "T"), and [ATG] Steak House. And yes, we did almost exclusively address each other by our screen names. The weekend was filled with movies, Texas Hold 'Em, video games, and much more, which I will refrain from writing about for the sake of a few ATG members' dignity. Regardless, we had a lot of fun. Upon meeting everyone there, I felt as if I was simply getting together with a bunch of old friends--no feelings of awkwardness in the slightest. In fact, I even enjoyed the company of a few people better than I thought I would.

While Addiction to Gaming is largely a Team Fortress 2 clan, we play all sorts of games together and discuss all sorts of things, from movies to technology and everything in between. If you're into gaming and looking for a bunch of awesome people to share the experience with, I suggest you check us out: Addiction to Gaming. We're always looking for new members. You'll find me there as [ATG] Tobuoi.


Fallout 3--finally!

We finally got our PS3 repaired a few weeks ago, so after many console-less months, I've gotten serious about beating a few games. The first one on my list was Fallout 3, which I had been wanting to play for a long time. I tried out the PC version but I wasn't too taken with it, so I decided to wait. So far, I am loving it. I would recommend this game to anyone who considers themselves a serious gamer.

While I have not yet "beaten" the game (with a role-playing game as big and open as Fallout 3, this term is used lightly), I have sunk many hours into it and am enjoying it emmensely. For those of you who don't know, Fallout 3 is largely an RPG in the traditional sense, meaning that you get to customize your character, explore the vast wasteland with little-to-no restrictions, choose what your character says, pick up hundreds of different items and weapons, complete quests, and pretty much have him/her do whatever you damn-well please. However, in combat, the player has the option to play the game like a first-person shooter. This makes for a very unique gameplay experience that is surprisingly satisfying. In many ways, the game is reminiscent of a Final Fantasy title, set in an apocalyptic wasteland. Despite this, FPS gamers should find plenty to like about it. In fact, players who are in search of a good game of either genre but want something that's a little different, Fallout 3 certainly delivers.

One of the things that I think makes Fallout 3 a must-play is the game's atmosphere. As someone who loves all things post-apocalyptia, I find the game's careful blend of creepiness and anxiety exhilerating. It's a rarity that a video game has a noticable psychological effect on me but Fallout 3 definitely does. Between the many mutated creatures, masochistic Raiders, and merciless Talon Company mercenaries that wander the wasteland, and the overall sorry state of mankind, the game definitely has a way of putting you on edge. If you're like me and enjoy that sort of thing, Fallout 3 should be right up your alley. Aside from all that, the game's known for its commendable replay value. Even though I have lots of quests left to complete, I look forward to starting over again with a different character and see how everything would've turned out if I did things differently. Maybe I'll pick up Fallout: New Vegas after that.