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A Gamer's Guide to Back to School

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Whether school started weeks ago or haunts your future like a blind date, your charming and oddly irresistible friend -Saigo- has your best interests in heart. In fact, his "Back to School" guide (with the gamer in mind) is so ripe with riveting wisdom and essential insight that you'd be a fool to forsake it! If education, regardless of your grade level or aspiration, is still on your horizon, then sit back, relax, and enjoy this outpouring of knowledge! But if you've somehow managed to crawl through your own academia then move along...and move along quickly! You free people with your jobs and careers and money aren't welcomed here! And be quiet! People are studying!

Anyhow, I've written five steps to make the transition from summer slumber to fall frenzy as easy as possible and I hope it helps. I've just begun my senior year as a journalism major and after changing the direction of my career from law (as in lawyer), to forensics (CSI is a lie), to English (gag me), and finally to journalism (yay!)...I think I've figured this school thing out. So, without further ado, here are the 5 steps to making education a better experience, from a gamer, to a gamer, and I sincerely hope they help.

Step 1: Join a Club--Make new Friends

Almost every school you'll attend will have fun and active clubs of all shapes and sizes to join, add to your post-academic résumé, and have a little fun with throughout the year. Besides, clubs are a great way to relax, branch out a little, and even learn new skills as you meet others with similar interests and hobbies. Convenient, isn't it? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking clubs like the Chess club (unless Chess is your thing), I mean clubs like anime clubs, video game clubs, and even cuddle clubs (yes my school has one and no I've never found the need to go). Honestly, check out your local campus's Clubs and Organizations office and they'll have you on your way in no time...or just Google clubs and organizations at your school and you'll be surprised at the options you have.

Nothing too interesting? Create your own! A lot of schools offer scholarship funding to successful clubs and will even offer grant money if you can sell the organization's board on the idea. Now get to it!

Step 2: Meet with an Academic Counselor and Evaluate your Goals

The best advice I can give you is to talk with an academic advisor, regardless of your current grade level, as quickly as possible. Explain your dreams, your ambitions, and what you want college to be. They'll set out the classes you'll need, the requirements of your program, and even correct your major depending on your interests and priorities. Take video game writing for example. Maybe your university has a game development program that minors in game writing--or maybe it doesn't and a degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing is your best bet to break into the field. Either way, and even if you think you know what you're doing, meeting with an academic advisor could take months, if not years, off the time it takes for you to finish your degree and get on with whatever career your heart desires.

Step 3: Stay in Touch with Old Friends

Just because you've moved, found new friends, and are dating a significant other, it doesn't give you an excuse to forget your roots or forget your old friends. Besides, with social services like Facebook, Twitter, Xbox LIVE and the Ps3 network, chatting and gaming with your old mates is still as rewarding as it was when they lived down the street. After all, a new beginning doesn't have to be an old end. Expand your world! Don't just move to the next phase of it.

Step 4: Evaluate your Perspective

Deciding on a career isn't an easy choice: You'll spend years of your life earning a degree to get a job you're stuck with for years afterwards. Is money a factor? Absolutely. It has to be to some degree or we'd all be doing volunteer work! But it shouldn't be the only factor in deciding a career because doing something you hate, regardless of how much you make, is only going to lead to a miserable life full of deathbed regrets. Life is just too short to be miserable for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week!

Now some of you are lucky in the sense that you'll make good money at something you genuinely love doing, but for the rest of us it pays to take a step back and re-evaluate our perspective. Do you want to review games for a living? Great! Just don't expect to drive a Ferrari or to date a supermodel. You'll be playing games for a living but it's still work and I'm sure Carolyn Petit and Mr. VanOrd would both attest that reviewing games can be stressful, demanding, and often unrewarding when uneducated and biased prats are constantly complaining about scores because they differ from their opposing opinions. Remember the Zelda: Skyward Sword review? I don't want to shatter your dreams but taking a step back and re-evaluating your hopes is safer in school and a lot less painless than waiting for that backhand of cold hard facts we call real life. Just be honest with yourself--it'll save you a lot of heartache down the road.

Step 5: Have Fun!

Think about it this way: Every moment can either last the second it occurs in time--or it can last forever. Do you want your youthful memories to be full of digitalized the-princess-is-in-another-castle type adventures...or memories of real maidens (or princes if that's your fancy), epic conquests, and glorious tales of victory? Would you rather have the accomplishments of your life summed up by a pile of beaten game cases...or by something that actually matters?

Now don't get me wrong, gaming is important to all of us, that's why we're here, but there's a time and place for it just like there's a time and place for socializing, studying, and sleeping. Even though you have more freedom to do what you want--you still have to be responsible--and this is coming from someone who had to plea with the bigwigs after getting my packing papers at the end of my first WoW induced semester. Perfect time to discover the game, right? But I'm saying this because I care, and I'm pleading with you because I've been there and was lucky enough to be given another chance. Just be smart about it and save yourself the heart attack and stress! Prioritize your responsibilities, and when you have time, game like every second counts...because it does.

Well, that's my two cents...and since I started classes a week ago I've got homework to do and deadlines to make. Best wishes and good luck to all of you, or, in the words of Gandalf of Narnia, "May the force be ever in your favor."

-Saigo- Out

PS: Let me know if any of you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to help out.