Considering that I’ve made 9 posts this summer alone, this HRPG definitely is doing something — you have to admit that’s rather impressive considering that I averaged 8-9 posts a year up until now.
Of the 3 friends I made during undergrad, last but not least is Charlie. He was actually one of the people who lived in the apartment right next to David, Cameron, and Samee; if I recall correctly, Cameron and David had met Charlie and one of his roommates at some welcome week event during the first week of the semester, or had gone to an event together because they happened to leave their apartments at the same time — in any case, I met Charlie through them. Charlie and Samee were also roommates from sophomore to senior year, and their apartment became the “hangout spot” for the four of us.
I remember getting the four of them — Cameron, Charlie, Samee, and Charlie’s roommate — nerf guns for Christmas so they could play together. That wording sounds kinda weird, and now that I think about it, it was probably pretty unusual to get these three people Christmas gifts when I’d only known them for three or four months. I think I also made birthday cakes. I’m not sure if these gestures were more from the “goodness of my heart”, or more from an attempt to ensure that they continued to have an interest in hanging out with me. I do remember buying the nerf guns on impulse because I was pretty sure that they’d have a ton of fun pelting each other with foam bullets for at least one night. I dunno. I like seeing people happy as a result of something I did.
I feel like I know Charlie the least. Due to circumstances explained in previous posts, I got to know Cameron and Samee fairly well as individuals during freshman year. With Charlie, I only ever saw him in a group setting. In addition to that, he’s a pretty quiet and stoic person, so altogether it made getting to know him rather difficult. Honestly, I’m still not quite sure what he thinks of me beyond the fact that we’re friends. For example, if Samee were to briefly describe me to a non-mutual friend, it would probably be something along the lines of “herp and fat.” Cameron’s would likely have something about neuroscience, music, or over-thinking things. I have literally no idea how Charlie would describe me, or what kind of impression I’ve had on him.
Whereas I alternated between relying on Cameron and Samee for moral support during undergrad, Charlie has helped me during this first year of grad school. Samee and Cameron both moved away for med school (though Samee is just barely an hour away), while Charlie and I both stayed to do our master’s degrees. I’m not sure how much their leaving impacted Charlie, but I’ll be honest — I was kinda devastated. The academic shift between undergrad and grad school was as jarring as the shift between high school and college, I had a harrowing end to a romantic relationship, a sudden interest in research — and as a result, a struggle to decide if I truly wanted to be a doctor, or if I would be better suited and happier as a researcher/professor — and I’d lost my primary sources of moral support. I know I didn’t lose them — they’re still my friends and we still talk a lot — but distance certainly puts a damper on things. Charlie has a few other friends here, but those three were pretty much all I had during undergrad. I won’t lie; it’s been a pretty lonely year, and just thinking about it for too long can make me cry.
Anyway, Charlie and I have hung out more over this past year. I feel like I haven’t gotten to know him that much better than I did before; most of what we do consists of either me watching him play a video game, or bonding over sporadic conversations about our vague plans for the future and the tediousness of grad school. However, hanging out with Charlie always has this lighthearted quality to it that has probably kept me from completely breaking from the stress of everything. It’s kept me grounded. I think if Charlie had also moved away after graduation, I would’ve become a complete hermit. I had 4 years to forge these friendships; by comparison, the 2 years that it takes to complete my master’s program doesn’t feel like enough time to build a similarly strong friendship. And the cowardly part of me would rather spare myself an additional painful separation. Besides, I don’t know how to make friends. I don’t know how I became friends with these three, what made them continue to want to talk to me, to hang out with me. Whatever it is that they see in me, it seems that not many other people do.
Ohai thar, low self-esteem.
Aside from all that, I’ve come to appreciate a wider variety of games, as well as experience more aspects of gaming culture, as a result hanging out with Charlie. I’ve watched Charlie play a fair number of games over the years, and while some (or most?) were pretty weird and wtf, they were all interesting in some way or another. Some of the most memorable moments of the four of us together are from us hanging out at Charlie and Samee’s apartment, playing co-op games like LittleBigPlanet and Rayman Origins, or watching Charlie play one of his games that was a little weirder than usual (Catherine). I guess Sonic Shuffle was also fun too, on some very very minute level.
As for the gaming culture, last year Charlie invited me to go with him and his other friends to SGC, which is a gaming convention held annually in Dallas. The only other convention I’d ever been to was A-kon in 2012. By comparison, SGC is smaller, less hectic, and more laid back, all of which made me enjoy SGC more than I enjoyed A-kon. Going to the panels of some well-known gamers on YouTube felt more intimate, since the rooms weren’t packed to the brim with people. It was interesting to see the various games people were working on in the Indie Heaven room, and I was able to sample a variety of games since they had an entire room with consoles for people to play. Not to mention all of the old-school arcade booths.
Before college, I’d only played pokemon, a few zelda games, and some Crash Bandicoot. I didn’t even know what Steam was until spring semester of freshman year, when Samee, Charlie, and Cameron started going to the Arts and Technology Building to play games together on the computers. I’d never played any computer games before then either, unless you count a few random levels of Chip’s Challenge and Ecco the Dolphin. So I have to thank Charlie and Samee for adding more substance and variety to my life through the games that they have recommended and/or given to me. Gaming has become an integral part of my life, and I don’t think it would have been as rich or fulfilling without the two of them.