English 101 - Compositions

There was an original post here once, but I deleted so as to make room for these not quite excellent composition papers I wrote for my English 101 course.

Disclaimer: These were written specifically for a professor with absolutely no knowledge of what I was writing about, therefore they may contain glaring mistruths, stiffness, or other blatant faults. I didn't care so much about delivering accuracy to my Englsih 101 Godfather, Mr. Klein, known world over as the human who most closely resembles Master Splinter. Enjoy, or something...

The Game of Life
The Keyboard Zombies
A Frag Above the Rest
Star Wars 23: Indiana Jones vs. Superman

The Game of Life

Video games have long been the bane of parents. Parents who would much rather see their children playing outside, instead of spending their afternoons with eyes glued to a glowing screen. Parents wish their children were away, enjoying the “real world,” while children are amazed at how real their fantasy worlds can be. The difference has left many baffled parents shouting at closed bedroom doors. Fortunately, as gaming has increased in popularity, so has the technology driving it. Finally parents can relax. Playing video games is beneficial to children.

Parents can rest easily knowing how video games can benefit their children. Children who enjoy playing games online have opened up a whole world of learning for themselves. Online gaming in massively multi-player realms and squad based shooters is dependent on a gamer’s ability to create teams and work together to achieve goals. The group management and leadership skills that children are learning in these situations are surely as valuable as the teamwork in most sports. Not to mention, experience in gaming has created a demographic of tech-savvy youth that are among the most fluent in computer jargon and maintenance. Parents greatest concern, that their children were only ever exercising their thumbs, has also been vanquished thanks to contemporary gaming. Dance Dance Revolution has become a gaming craze that offers more stimulating and difficult exercise than nearly any other children’s activity.

Playing video games has excited many children into pursuing an active career in the production of game development. Careers in game development have become more popular now than ever before. Universities and specialized schools are opening countless facilities for the teaching of majors related to video games. Even the United States Army is hiring game developers to create games like America’s Army, which they use for the training of their soldiers. The most prestigious game developers, such as Lorne Lanning, Peter Molyneaux, and Hideo Kojima, enjoy budgets and salaries similar to those of film directors. Game developers also often get to see their creations extend from the world of gaming into other entertainment outlets. Films based upon video game developers best creations include Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead, Doom, Halo, Dungeon Siege, and God of War.

The creation of video games may be the most likely career for children who learn to love gaming early on; however, a career in professional gaming can prove to be the most lucrative. Professional gamers have begun to appear at tournaments and contests around the world. The perks of professional gaming are enough to make a young gamer decide immediately that this is their life’s true calling. Professional gamers enjoy travel, prize money, and daily practice sessions of up to twelve hours of gaming. The most famous gamers are even given sponsorships and free equipment similar to any other professional athlete. Professional gaming outside of tournament play is limited to the sales of in-game items within massively multiplayer games. In-game item sales have become a multi-million dollar industry, with a successful economy of their own.

At the onset of the video game industry, parents may have been rightfully confused at their children’s desire to spend so much time enjoying such fruitless activity. However, as gaming has grown, so have the benefits and opportunities it presents its young participants. Gaming is delivering children the experiences to be successful in a multitude of careers, and for some, it is providing early training for the career they will ultimately choose. The only question parents should be posing to the gaming industry is; how are you going to get these kids some sunlight?

The Keyboard Zombies

People tend to expect those with suffering from addiction to display a noticeable physical decline, for example, loss of appetite and body mass, loss of healthy skin tone, loss of concentration and logical speech patterns. Ironically, however, those same people may not expect that similar changes may be caused by playing an online game. Millions of gamers, particularly those that have recently devoted their lives to playing World of Warcraft, demonstrate that playing a game can cause many physical changes similar to those of other more serious addictions.

World of Warcraft was released on November 23, 2004. It has since become the world’s most popular online game. Since the games inception, over four million players have logged billions of hours within the games fantasy realm of Azeroth. The denizens of Azeroth have spent their days as elves, gnomes, dwarves and orcs among other things. Meanwhile, as they believed they were members of these mythic races, they were in fact becoming something entirely different. They were becoming zombies.

The zombie-like qualities of Azerothians, as they like to call themselves, are often directly related to their eating habits. No true player immersed in his fantasy world has time for trivial activities such as dinner or breakfast, for these things represent valuable time that could be spent on his addiction. The hardcore scoff at the idea of snacks, considering that at the most crucial of moments, their hands must be inseparable from their mouse and keyboard. The only widely accepted source of energy comes in the form of caffeinated beverages such as Mountain Dew or Red Bull. These drinks are the life-juice of Azerothians. They serve the purpose of keeping players alert during dungeon crawls and enemy raids.

The largest of these dungeons and raids can convince players that sleep, one of man-kinds necessities, is merely a luxury for the weak. These behemoth dungeons can demand game-play of ten hours straight, and require the effort of up to 40 players to complete. Sleep is naturally second in importance to large events such as these, and more often than not, sleep is less important than even the smallest event in Azeroth. Why would a player sleep, when he could be making his character stronger, or selling items within the auction house?

Taken together, the common Azerothian’s diet and sleep habits can make an average human being look more ghastly than the walking dead. The look of anorexia doesn’t begin to describe how a person can look when their diet consists solely of Mountain Dew. Imagine the frailest of human beings twitching about more hastily than those who are addicted to heavy stimulants. Often they are laughing and speaking openly to their computer screen, as if their fellow guild-mates could see and hear them clearly. The dark circles around their eyes are more like orbital patterns. A bony white color, the one common to the undead races of Azeroth, now mirrors the shade of their own skin.

The physical degradation of Azerothians almost validates their status as the mind-munching beings from beyond the grave, yet it is their loss of natural speaking abilities that confirms our worst fears. These gamers have withdrawn from their native human tongues, to speak in languages of garbled sounds that often seem more monstrous than man-like. How can a man pronounce words like “UBRS,” “tehpwnerer,” and “OMFGROFLMAOSUXXOR?” The players of World of Warcraft have accepted this new language as their common one, and in so doing, have given up on the last bastion of their humanity.

It is essentially their loss of the ability to function in normal human interaction that makes addicts so devoid at life. The players of World of Warcraft face similar losses, yet they embrace their addiction, and even enjoy their downward path into the bleakest of existence. These creatures are pale, twitchy, and frail to the point of fading away. Spending time in the mystical land of Azeroth has caused what were once regular humans to forgo eating, give up sleep, and create their own language of garbled nonsense. Can a race of such people be considered human beings at all? Zombies seem like the most realistic definition for such a species. The Azerothians may not be yearning for human flesh and shambling through dark alleyways moaning, “braaiinnss,” but the game hasn’t yet reached the peak of it’s popularity, and who knows what qualities of the walking dead these gamers will inherit next.

A Frag Above the Rest

A frag is commonly known as an assassination of an unpopular member of one's own fighting unit within the context of war. It is also military slang for a fragmentary grenade. However, it is more importantly the term that was once used as a replacement for a kill count within many multiplayer video games. It has since evolved from it’s modern definition into something much more elaborate. A frag can be used popularly as a noun or verb. When used as a noun a frag can mean one kill of an opponent. However, when used as a verb the frag can be a process that demands more skill from a player than any other. Considering this confusion the frag has become a topic of debate, but to hardcore gamers it remains painfully clear what a frag is, and will always be. A frag is the holy grail of gaming, the moment a gamer is most notably superior than another gamer. It is the purpose of entire games, a standard to adhere to while gaming, and the most important four letter world to have graced the gaming world since “game” itself. Alas, for true gamers, frags are being abused by those without skill, often proud enough to exclaim, “Haha, you’re so fragged,” after what is actually a simple lucky shot. Gamers around the world should wake up; a frag is much more than an ordinary kill.

Considering that a true frag is a much higher caliber of kill, there are many complex components that require more than the standard run-n-gun fare of many average players. The most important of requirements is naturally the “headshot.” The headshot can be the most sublime moment in all of gaming. The glory of one-hit cranial destruction is the absolute essence of what a frag should be. Directly following the headshot, it is required that players perform an action of extreme overkill. Possibly unloading an entire clip into a falling foe, or lobbing a barrage of countless grenades onto a lifeless opponent. The last component of a true frag is a piece many non-gamers are already accustomed to, the performance piece. The victorious player reserves the right to assault his helpless prey with a vulgar display of bragging rights and taunts. At their culmination, a gamer knows the finishing touch exactly; he should muster the most capable victory dance he can perform with his limited control of a game character.

While all frags should be constructed of these necessary components, each and every frag should have a style all their own. A frag’s particular style can be determined by the player’s preference of weapon, tactics, or overall insanity. One who understands the beauty of the frag should become familiar with “gibbing.” Gibbing is a frag style that makes use of rocket launchers, bazookas, and other overly powerful weapons to reduce an enemy to little more than a pile of giblets. Grenades, proximity mines, and remote controlled bombs often also result in an overly hideous death for any enemy. They too can reduce an enemy to giblets, but the tactics behind timing grenades and proximity mines make for an entirely different style of frag, one that is commonly used to dispose of entire enemy teams. These two styles of fragging are so extremely monstrous in delivering death that they should be the only exceptions to the rule of headshots. What importance is a headshot when there isn’t a head left? The most insane and outrageous of all frag styles is the melee frag. A melee frag is the result of a player’s kamikaze rush into gunfire with nothing more than hand-to-hand combat at his disposal. This style of fragging is reserved only for the bravest, and the dumbest, of all gamers.

A frag should most undoubtedly be composed of all that is stated here, and it should be completed with a style befitting it’s greatness, but there are a number of things a frag must never contain. A frag is never killing a teammate. Allies should walk hand-in-hand to victory, unless of course they’re annoying, then killing teammates is naturally fair game. However, because they’re hardly expecting friendly fire, it is much too easy to be a frag. Also, a frag is never “camping” a particular games spawn point. The points in which characters respawn from death may seem like such fertile ground for fragging, but in fact it is once again the simplicity that makes camping taboo. There is no challenge in mowing down enemies who have barely seen the light of day. A true frag requires that an enemy be aware and expecting a fair chance to return fire. It is the gamer’s skill at slaughtering alert enemies that makes for the best frags. The single most important thing that a frag will never be is definitely an accidental or lucky shot. A frag is a piece of art with a structure of components, it is based solely on a gamer’s skill in delivering hasty death to his opponents, and it has no place for accidents or luck. These things ought to be reserved for simple kills or deaths, but the glory of the frag is always intentional.

The many components of a frag, as well as the many styles with which they may be delivered, and the pitfalls of fragging to avoid, should leave a clear definition of what a frag is. However, it is never as simple as a clear definition. Other gamers will proclaim that a frag is simply every kill within a deathmatch, while even others will state that a frag is a slang term, a piece of computer jargon that will fade as quickly as computers themselves do. There have been many definitions for a frag, and those who try to gain a grasp of the term can be easily confused by it. However, the boom in popularity of first-person shooter games such as Doom, and Unreal have served as the catalyst to the fragging debate. Whether it is a frag, or the action of fragging, gamers are realizing that these terms describe an art form of destruction. A frag is a mark of excellence reserved only for the gaming elite, and it should be forever heralded as the excellent performance it is.

Star Wars 23: Indiana Jones vs. Superman

I took a journey to the theatre the past weekend to hopefully spend a couple hours enjoying a wonderful film. To my dismay, I found that my favorite theatre was playing little more than Saw II, Doom, and The Legend of Zorro. The avid filmgoer can notice immediately that two of these films are sequels, and Doom, is a film whose plot is lifted very un-gracefully from a video game. It took me a moment to come to the realization that Hollywood has reduced itself to flooding America with sequels and remakes. While my first reaction was to blame Hollywood for this poor display, in due time I decided it was actually the American audience who was at fault. The American audience should demand more from Hollywood than sequels and remakes.

The public is to blame for the state of Hollywood today. We so often allow sequels and remakes to achieve high status at the box office that the head executive’s in “tinsel town” must believe that these films are wonderful ideas. The problem with sequels has grown so large that I can’t even head to the theatre without having to face multiple films that are most commonly inferior to their origin. Most critics have a difficult time naming even one sequel that has surpassed its initial source material. Recently, we’ve been treated to wonderful second helpings of Saw, and the new Zorro franchise. Neither film was horrible by my standards, but the more we stand for sequels, the more likely we will be to see “Saw 18”. Some series are reaching their limit already; the fourth Harry Potter film is soon to be released, as well as the recently released Batman Begins, which is the fifth of Batman’s features. As an audience, we should be pushing Hollywood to deliver new and more interesting ideas; instead of allowing them to re-tread what they feel is safe ground.

While sequels flood the market, they do on occasion have just cause; however the new Hollywood staple of remaking films has no justification at all. Hollywood must have decided that the current generation of filmgoers has no knowledge of dated films, and they should therefore be punished with remakes that are lackluster compared to their original releases. Recently films have been released including The Manchurian Candidate, War of the Worlds, and Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, all of which were poor imitations of their original adaptations. However, we flocked to the screens to see how our classics were treated, and our reward will undoubtedly be more poorly finished remakes. We should learn to respect classics for what they are, and give up hope that Hollywood will deliver great modern remakes of these great classic films.

Another recent trend of Hollywood’s is to create films from popular source material. Films have been adapted from novels since their inception, but new and more interesting source material has opened up the way for films like Sin City, X-Men, and Blade, all inspired by popular comic books; and Doom, Resident Evil, and House of the Dead, all inspired by video games. Overall, these films can often be great, but if we allow the best films of the year to be adapted from novels, comic books, and video games, then there is little interest in directors to create enthralling original films. I would never deny an audience the right to see a great film from these sources, but it should be our prerogative to make a note of their source, and credit them as equally as the film makers. Those who create original films have much more work on their hands than those with complete source material; therefore we should be rewarding those original film makers with our respect as an audience.

The greatest films of all time, according to many critics and myself, include such films as The Godfather, Seven Samurai, and Citizen Kane among their ranks. It is these undoubtedly great films that were inspired by nothing other than a director’s vision. If we allow our modern films to be little more than sequels, remakes, and rehashes of outside source material, we will surely lose our chance of ever seeing a film of the same caliber as those classics ever again. We need to respect our duty as an audience; otherwise we could very well be watching “Star Wars 23”, or a wonderful remake of Lawrence of Arabia, most likely filmed in Denver.


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