FPS Doug: Poster Child of Our Gaming Community!
Boom, headshot... BOOM headshot.... BOOM!!! HEADSHOT!!! From the recent publicity attempting to link violent acts in the world to video games, FPS Doug (WARNING: link contains strong language) may as well be the poster child for gamers worldwide in the eyes of the media*.
Whether you believe the hype or not, playing video games have also been linked to some very positive effects. Several studies have shown that video games can ease pain in patients, and that violent video games may increase pain tolerance in some people. My mother, who is in chronic pain due to various conditions, has personally found that Farmville helps her relax and improves her pain management.
Then there are all of the conflicting reports from the media at large, showing that 89 percent of parents believe game violence a problem but that a former FBI profiler says games do not cause violence. So, what to believe?
Enter Cody Thompson: Walking Gamer
Whichever side you're on, there's one gamer who is breaking this stereotype. Enter the Walking Gamer. Cody Thompson is on a mission for both himself and for charity. He is going to walk across the country, from North Carolina to California, on a journey that is to start this weekend and will take an estimated 8 months to complete. During his travels, he will be dependent on the kindness of strangers for lawn space on which to pitch his tent, donations for food and supplies during his travel and support during the difficult months he faces away from his home and his wife.
So, who is this Cody Thompson? In the spirit of full disclosure, he is the husband of one of my sister's dearest friends, and that's how I first heard of his journey. He is an avid gamer and has been since the age of 4, is a former EMS dispatcher and has a bone to pick with DLC--I won't repeat here what he had to say about the horse armor DLC for Oblivion--and he was kind enough to allow me to interview him personally for this blog. (I found out the hard way that he also hates being called "Mr. Thompson", which I did when I first requested the interview and subsequently made him twitch something awful...)
See, when Cody was 4 years old, he had a serious eye disease which required surgery. As a part of his recovery regimen, his doctor actually prescribed video games. With that, his parents got him an Atari. It's no surprise that the charity he is bringing along for his walk is Child's Play, an organization that provides various toys, books and video games to hospitalized children to try to make their stay less arduous and improve their spirits and recoveries.
He still remembers his first games, Pitfall! and River Raid. He remembers the Christmas his mom scraped together enough to get him the NES with Super Mario 2. In true gamer form, Cody will be bringing his 3DS along for the walk, with an assortment of games (if you donate enough to his Indiegogo campaign, he will even send you one of his used games from his walk!). Cody sequestered his 3DS for the last few months so that the games would be fresh and new for his journey, so he has spent his gaming time lately playing a lot of his console and PC games in the meantime (DMC, Starcraft 2 and others).
Cody's Trusty Walking Companion Will Be His 3DS
The idea to walk across the country originally came from his love of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" which introduced him to a world of adventure and self discovery he wanted to impart into his own life. He says it is only natural to bring a charity along for the ride, especially since Child's Play is so close to his own heart.
Bilbo vs. Frodo: Tough Choice!
For those of you wondering where he stands on the issue of Frodo vs. Bilbo, when asked the proverbial question, "Frodo or Bilbo?" Cody replied, "My answer is............. [darn], that is not a fair question really...the Hobbit is such a different tone than LOTR. Bilbo is having this adventure. He is outside his comfort zone, and I suppose I relate to that more for this walk. Frodo knows he is carrying the source of all evil around his neck, and well.... that [messes] a dude up." So now you know. (Thanks to GunnyHath for suggesting that question!)
While not the focus of his journey, Cody is well aware of how the gaming industry and community is being perceived, and he has his own ideas about games, violence and the roles of parents in all of this. When asked about his thoughts on the connection between violent acts and video games, he responded, "...the issue with games and probably movies is parents think it is just a game, so they get it, no biggie. Let's hand Darksiders over to a 12 year old and not pay attention."
He also recalls how his mom handled video game violence with him as a kid: "I grew up playing violent games. My mom got me Mortal Kombat 2 for the SNES but she watched me play it and she made the call if she thought it was appropriate for me to play." He does not believe in government censorship, and instead puts duties on the parents to make the call. To all who believe that violence in games has a widespread effect on gamers, he replies, "We are going to see a HUGE boom in America's farming community any day now. Farmville was THAT popular." I guess my mom is going to become a farmer. She already has a huge garden at home.... hmmm... I see truth in this sentiment already...
With all of the negative publicity the gaming community faces, it's nice to see something so positive coming from one of our own. So the next time somebody scared of the world and looking for a neat and tidy way to explain the violence in the world blames you, the gamer, just tell them to walk it off.
Well done, Mr. Thomps--er, Cody. Safe travels on your longest journey.
Walk on, gaming brother. Walk on.
Interested in donating to Cody's cause? Donations in his honor can be made to Child's Play by clicking here. Donations will first cover his expenses for the walk, and all unused proceeds will then go directly to Child's Play.
You may also donate directly to him to cover his expenses, which he estimates will be $8,000 by the end of his trip, at his Indiegogo site.
Cody will be updating his Walking Gamer site with blogs during his travels, but you may also connect with him via other social media sites below:
*It should be known that I think FPS Doug is about the most hilarious YouTube video ever, I'm not knocking him in any way, shape or form ;)