Thursday, March 6, 2008
So here I am packed and ready to fly off to Minneapolis this afternoon, to visit the campus of a large and reasonably well-known public university where I was offered admission and funding. I can't imagine visiting Minneapolis in early March except on someone else's dime, to be honest. After a few misadventures in packing, I managed to cram everything I really can't live without for four days into one smallish suitcase and my rolling laptop bag. As usual, I initially overpacked ridiculously and had to keep taking stuff back out, considering I had about six days' worth of clothes in there. I just find it hard to be completely confident about what I need. I mean, what do you wear to a campus recruitment visit? I really have very little idea of what is appropriate, so I packed a mix of things from casual to business. And of course, I have to have my laptop. And power cord. And mike headphones. And mouse. You get the idea. I did remember to pack the digital camera, so pictures should be forthcoming. I am really nervous about this trip, and I'm not really even sure why. I mean, they already offered me admission and funding, and I don't think they are going to take it away if they don't like how I dress or I use the wrong fork or something. I guess I just want to make a good impression and, to be honest, social situations in which I meet a lot of new people make me nervous. I didn't sleep too well, so today will be a big coffee day. Once I relax a little and get over my nerves, I think this will be a lot of fun.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I was moved late yesterday and today to meditate a bit on the future of games by hearing of the death of Gary Gygax, co-creator of the game Dungeons & Dragons. No matter what your opinion of this game and the dozens, if not hundreds, of similar paper-based games it spawned, the fact remains that it was an entirely new concept in gaming that paved the way for several popular genre of computer games. According to the New York Times obituary on Mr. Gygax, he didn't entirely approve of the translation of Dungeons & Dragons to the digital universe, saying, “There is no intimacy; it’s not live . . . it’s being translated through a computer, and your imagination is not there the same way it is when you’re actually together with a group of people." But Mr. Gygax was quite, quite wrong. At least as early as the AOL game Neverwinter Nights back in 1991, video game players were interacting in real time in the fantasy milieu envisioned by the paper and pencil game. Neverwinter Nights was just the beginning of a trend that gained enormous momentum, and the concept of the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game reached maturity with games like World of Warcraft, which as of this writing had a subscriber base of over 10 million people, a small country. There is some kind of irony in the fact that I learned about the death of Gary Gygax from fellow World of Warcraft players after I logged into the game last night and saw them discussing it in one of the the many chat channels used for live conversations between players. I'm not trying to say that pencil and paper role-playing games are dead; I'm not ashamed to admit that I played them for many years myself. But, in a busy world full of responsibilities and demands on our time, there is a lot to be said for a role-playing game that you can enjoy in your bunny slippers whenever you finally get your kids to sleep, or sitting in the library between classes, or waiting for your flight at the airport. I have to believe that this version of the role-playing game will only grow in popularity.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
This is my first foray into the brave, not-so-new world of blogging. Odd, that, considering what a hard-core geek I am in most respects. I'm just a privacy-loving geek who tends to be a bit leery of self-disclosure. I suppose introductions are in order here, so I'll start by saying that you can call me Leigh, though of course this is not my "real" name. To give you the basic statistics, I am 35 years old, have one daughter, and am nearing the end of my second marriage. More on that later, no doubt. The name of my blog refers to two of the great and abiding interests in my life; medieval history and computers. No, not a lot of crossover there, it's true. The medieval history part happens to be a bit more prominent at the moment since I applied to eight Ph.D. programs over the last few months and am currently in the midst of acceptances and rejections. I am 4-1 so far, so not too shabby a record as these things go, with 3 programs left to hear from. My first round of campus visits starts later this week, so expect to hear more on that. Maybe some pictures as well, if I remember to take a digital camera. No guarantees there. Anyway, I will have a lot more to say about my interest in computers which, like many peers my age (mostly male) was kindled by a Commodore 64 when I was around 12. My interest and skills have grown over the years, with the help of lots of geeky (mostly male) friends willing to share their savvy. More on all that later. To close off the first post, here, I really should say a few more words about the graduate school admissions game that I've been playing with no small degree of success. I am just finishing my B.A. in History this term at a largish public university of very little renown. Furthermore, I am now a woman in my mid-thirties from a distinctly working-class background. If you are thinking that this is not the sort of background that favors one in getting into highly competitive graduate programs, in general you'd be right. The fact that I have indeed won admission to at least one (so far) genuinely prestigious and competitive program, however, suggests that I do know a bit about what I'm doing. I may post more on that topic as well. Regardless, this is going to be one hell of a ride, and certainly not one I could have predicted, say, four years ago when I went back to school. I'll keep you posted.