Nintendo Switch arrives March 3!

I had a feeling that my 100th blog post would be special. Nintendo finally shed more light on their upcoming console, the Nintendo Switch. On January 12 around 8pm PT/ 11pm EST, Nintendo held a press conference (link to press conference here) revealing more information about the console. Nintendo Switch releases March 3, 2017 which is very soon retailing for $299.99 in the U.S. nintendo-switch-presentation-bannerThe console will come package with a Nintendo Switch, the dock, left and right JoyCon controllers, the game pad to connect the controllers, two wrist attachments for when you play with the controllers separately, an AC adapter, and a HDMI cable. The console has three modes; TV mode (playing videogames via hdmi to your TV), Tabletop (playing with the Nintendo Switch tablet with the JoyCon controllers disconnected form the tablet), and Handheld mode (to play games on the go).

A lot of other details were given as well. The Nintendo Switch when disconnected from the dock has a battery life ranging from 2 and half hours to 6 and half hours depending on the game. So, don’t stray too far from home. nintendo-switch-specs

Source: Gamespot.com

Gamespot confirmed that the Nintendo Switch will be a 720p display, 32GB of internal storage, will use game cartridges that resemble the size of 3DS games. The JoyCon controller has an upgraded “HD” rumble technology to really take the sense of realism to the next level. Also, Nintendo Switch supports 8-player LAN (local area network) connection for multiplayer games.

Speaking of games, a lot were announced. ARMS is a “fighting sports game” in which the fighters have extendable arms used to knock each other out. Also, 1-2 Switch  is a party game in which 2 people using one of the controllers shoot it out in a Western fast draw. It’s weird, I know. Hey, that’s Nintendo in a nutshell. Both games are meant to highlight the precision of the JoyCon controllers sensors, motion control, and feel of playing with a single controller.

Beyond that, Nintendo yet again announced that there are “80” games in development for Nintendo Switch. Splatoon 2 was announced and has a Summer 2017 release window. A new Mario Sandbox game called, Super Mario Odyssey, is slated to release during the 2017 holiday season. Todd Howard from Bethesda Softworks confirmed that the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be on Nintendo Switch. No release date was given. There were a few more interesting titles shown off or teased as well.

I am excited! The Nintendo Switch grabbed my attention in the Fall and soon will be grabbing my money on March 3, 2017! Did I fail to mention that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a release date. It is being released the same time as the Nintendo Switch, March 3! the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild

I am already lined up in front of the Gamestop! I should of brought a jacket. It’s cold outside!

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Jaystonee’s Year in Review 2016

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Before I get started, I just want to say 2016 was a good year for me, but it was not a good year for the world. I shed more tears of sadness and despair in 2016 than in recent years. I discussed racial and gender issues almost on a daily basis not just in academic settings, but with friends and family outside of that setting. I felt for the first time an actual fear for my life by simply walking, looking, speaking, and living while black. The world is in need of a upgrade, a fresh restart, or something. Hopefully 2017 will bring a brighter, safer, and more comfortable future for all people in the world.  With that said, time to briefly reflect on how gaming impacted my life in 2016.

I graduated from college! After 4 arduous years, I am finally a graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park. It was there that I firmly came to grips with the direction I wanted to go in my life. That direction meant taking my gamer identity and using that as my launching pad into a career in academia and/or industry. I am still at a lost for words because ascertaining that degree meant a lot to me and I can only imagine how my family felt seeing me walk across that stage.

Next, I moved and went back to school! I am now an Informatics PhD student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana studying videogame culture. Yes, I know it’s broad, but I still have sometime before I narrow down my particular interest(s) in gaming culture. I have already completed my first semester and it was awesome. It took me a while to fully realize that I am in school to learn, study, and at times play videogames as an academic pursuit. All I can say is I take gaming seriously. Videogames can teach people about other people, places, and ourselves. Academia gives me a direct pipeline to disseminate scholarly information and expand my knowledge of an already familiar subject. This is a five year program, so hopefully more people will hear or see about my endeavors on a grander scale! Stay tuned for that!

Gaming in 2016 brought me closer to people than ever before. Square Enix’s Life is Strange engaged me and other friends so much in it’s narrative that we shared our thoughts and feelings about the characters in the game and our own emotional connections to the characters. Golf with Friends is a very basic causal 3D golfing game that, as the title suggests, allows you play with friends. I never took myself as a golf player, but this definitely proved that my talents are better suited for research purposes. I just need to work on flicking my wrist more or aiming better with the mouse. Lastly, the popular team-based shooter Overwatch was definitely my go to game since its release. I am not a competitive person, mainly because I can never find the time to practice to be a competitive player. At least for me, Overwatch was different because I felt that every match I played I ended up learning something new. I learned more about which characters are better suited for certain maps and team compositions. I saw, heard, and almost felt when I head shotted an enemy with Zenyatta’s orbs or when I got nearly one-shotted by a Widowmaker. Playing with my friends allowed me to feel apart of a team of jovial people, as well as catch up with friends I have not heard from in a while.

2016 was an emotional roller coaster for me! I had sad times and happy times. I went through times of loneliness. I also hung out with friends more than I ever did back at my alma mater. I got snowed in with 3 friends in January of 2016. That was incredibly fun. Even with all the upsides and downsides, one of the constants in my life was videogames. Even if I was not playing a game, I was reading an article about the next game I should pick up or be on the look out for.

2016 you are done and definitely will be a year that I and many others will never forget. Let 2017 be the year of positive change, let it be the year of a social revolution, and let it be the year that helps launch me into the heart of gaming culture through my research! Now it is time to press start on a whole new adventure!

 

Nintendo Switch: Let’s Call it A Comeback!

 

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On Thursday, October 20, 2016 Nintendo revealed the highly anticipated Nintendo NX! Nintendo NX officially called “Ninteno Switch” aptly fits with the hardware’s design. The song “Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah) by White Denim was the theme song for this very impressive and you one could say revolutionary design. In the video which you can see here, you can see the first actor use a standard controller to interact with the system. Next, he slides off the right side and left sides of the controller. That’s right, slides off two end pieces, both sides containing a joy stick and “ABXY” button configurations. The end pieces attached to a larger display that was connected to the base of the console (which probably acts as a charging station and output to connect to a monitor or tv). So, now players can have what looked to be a 7 inch display on the go!

Lastly, sharing the gaming the experience with others has always been at the core of Nintendo. The two end pieces can be used as separate controllers to play two player co-op while using the portal screen. The video suggests multiplayer co-op in a scene where some basketball players were going against each other in NBA 2K.

The portal display comes with a headphone jack, but not for sure what else the device contains within the hardware (NFC, Bluetooth, etc.)

Good job Nintendo! I am so happy you and this console! They say “Don’t Call It A Comeback”, but you needed one! Badly! Now, just don’t mess this up with out having some awesome launch titles when the system releases in March 2017. Please don’t mess this up!

 

Mafia 3: Should a Black Character be able to kill members of the KKK?

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This post was inspired after reading this article “Racists Outraged that Mafia III allows Players to Kill Klansmen“. The article discusses the controversy about allowing players to kill members of the notorious hate group, KKK, inside the world of Mafia 3. The article shows several Facebook comments of people expressing their outrage.

Instances when real-world identities and social issues become part of virtual spaces, you will always have conflicting view points on how those identities and issues should be presented. The main arguments I hear range from the gaming industry is becoming too PC (politically correct), what if a white person was to do this to a person of color (assuming the protagonist is a white person), and lastly, reflections and/or adaptations of real world issues have no place in virtual spaces for the idea is to escape from reality.

Killing other groups, especially groups that most people in a society despise, is quite common in more action and/or war based videogames. More specifically, action first and/or third person shooter games are inspired by  real-world battles and tragedies. Those games try to create an atmosphere in which the player feels as if they are actually in war or feel a connected to the action.  The Call of Duty franchise is based around the theme of protecting the United States and/or securing highly valued interests against their foreign invader. Same thing applies to most of the main Battlefield franchise games (Battlefield: Hardline is more of cops vs. robbers) and the Medal of Honor franchise. So, does a videogame cross the line if the player has the ability to kill a historically vial group(s) within the same boundaries where the group and the player originated from? Simply put, is it right for me to kill virtual representations of a hate group even if the existed in reality? Do we as players have a bias towards toward harming other groups of people in virtual spaces if there is no shared identity and/or background?

Some argue that race plays a factor in all of this. The main protagonist, Lincoln Clay, is biracial, but has a dark skin tone. Some suggest that because him being a black man killing members of the Klan is the issue. So, would one feel comfortable if the protagonist was a white, Asian, Hispanic person? Would one have been better if the game allowed players the option to kill members of the Black Panther Party as well?

Think about these questions and brush up on the histories of these groups. The question shouldn’t be is it okay for a black person to kill a white person? We should be asking are we more comfortable killing others who don’t look like us than those who do?

Calling All Black Gamers and Blerds!!

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From the title, you are probably wondering why I am shouting. Specifically, why am I calling for those who identify in someway with the African Diaspora? Well, it is for a variety of reasons.

The first reason is that the state of Black America is still going through a rough time. I, as a 22-year-old black male, have never questioned my safety as a person of color more than in the past four or so years. Yes, unfortunately I am used to the rhetoric that blacks are less than whites, and we have been—and still are—systematically displaced and segregated in the sectors of public health, housing, education, and politics. I grew up hearing that and I never questioned it until I started college. I ask every so often when I leave for school: will I return to my room that night?  I am uncomfortable seeing my people headlining the news almost every month, and knowing for a fact that it is not something positive.

Secondly, blacks are already a marginalized group. But those of us who try our best to enjoy life in a state of chaos end up even more ostracized at times because of our interests. I grew up watching Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, Dragon Ball ZYu Yu HakushoBleach, Naruto, One Piece, and many more anime series that were on Toonami. However, I have noticed over the years that some people are still surprised that black people are into anime and comic books. The majority of people assume that others from different backgrounds may have seen, heard, and watched anime. However, when it comes to black people, the assumption is that it’s only mainstream anime. Now honestly, I watched mainly mainstream anime, but I have several friends who are also nerds of color that talk about anime I have never heard! I have colleagues who read manga everyday that span a variety of different kinds of anime. I personally never heavily watched anime growing up and I still do not, but I am not representative of those who do.

There are bigoted people everywhere, and the gaming community is no different. Online chats are the gateway to disseminating hatred, racial slurs, and overall stupidity. I am pretty confident in saying blacks have been playing videogames as long as any other group of people. Still, online harassment based on someone’s skin color occurs. Here is one of many examples that other black gamers may identify with on some level. Personally, something of this magnitude has never happened to me, but hearing and being called certain racial slurs and micro-aggressions has happened to me through the public chat on Xbox Live.

This is all to say I am very interested to see if the experiences I listed are common among black gamers. Maybe I was just unlucky on having to run into those kinds of experiences. Maybe, the overwhelming population of black gamers and nerds have felt nothing but positivity and comfortability, which is great. I don’t know. I can only speak from my experience.

I would like to write a blog post synthesizing the experiences that are shared with me. This will add to an ongoing conversation about the feelings and attitudes of being a black gamer and/or nerd, and broadly about the feelings and behaviors within a society that deems black people than less than human at times. Some of you may want to privately share your story with me, which is perfectly fine. Follow me on Twitter (@JavonOnThePrgm), and message me saying you read this post so we can DM (please no crazy stuff people. This is for research purposes only). You can also send an email to me as well , javongoard@gmail.com, with this title as the subject line.

Please! This is a conversation that needs to happen and your voice is important. I will do my due diligence to synthesize the experiences shared with me to create a representative article. In the meantime, take time for self-healing. We all need it!

 

Looking good Ubi: Ubisoft E3 2016 Press Conference

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2016 marks 30 years of business for Ubisoft! This is a major accomplishment for any company, especially in the games industry because for one or a few business mistakes can spell the end for a game studio. Congrats Ubisoft!

Now let’s get to the topic at hand, UbiE3 conference! Of course, this press conference was not packed full of new IPs like Sony and Microsoft, but there are a lot of awesome AAA games in the works.

The annual Just Dance franchise showed off the next installment with Just Dance 2017. Dancers were jiving, twisting, and having all kinds of fun in the game and on stage. Just Dance 2017 launches on October 25, 2017.

I enjoy Tom Clancy games, but recently I have not been invested in any of them which includes The Division. However, Ghost Recon: Wildlands may get back into the “open-world” shooter vibe again. New gameplay was shown on stage highlighting the importance of team work and stealth…until the enemy tries to escape and your team has to chase him down in car and helicopter. Things got crazy! I may pick this up a few days after launch if reviews for it are decent. Definitely will be having my eyes on this game. Ghost Recon: Wildland releases March 7, 2017.

The Division apparently is pretty fun with over 10 million active players. Expansion 1: Underground releases on June 28. To get the crowd more hyped they showed off a new cinematic trailer for Expansion 2: Survival.

South Park: The Fractured but Whole (yes, that is the name of the game) yet again keeps that South Park humor with new gameplay mechanics. I did not play South Park: The Stick of Truth, but apparently enough people bought it and played it to warrant a sequel. You can check out the trailer here. South Park: The Fractured but Whole comes out December 6, 2016.

Ubisoft just many other gaming companies have been working on games for VR. The showed of an flight FPS game called Eagle Flight VR. Players fly as eagle in order take down other players to do accomplish certain objectives. What was shown was some variation of capture the flag, but with lots of claws and feathers. They also announced Star Trek Bridge Crew which is a simulation game in which you and your become the flight crew for the USS Enterprise. Both VR games seem pretty cool, hopefully they are just as fun to play come launch time. Eagle Flight VR and Star Trek Bridge Crew release sometime this Fall.

Now, this game right here, this game right here, is awesome! I saw For Honor demoed in person when I was at E3. Ubisoft showed off a new gameplay trailer which revealed the antagonist that pits these 3 class of warriors against each other. Out of the 3 class, gameplay of the Vikings in the main campaign was showcased. I thought I was going all in for Samurai’s, but seeing these Vikings maul over enemies was so satisfying to see. For Honor brings the swords and blood on February  14, 2017.

An open-world game named, Grow Up, was talked about, but nothing shown. So we will what this game has in store for gamers.

If you know anything about the Trials franchise, you know that riding a dirt bike may seem fun at first, but becomes irritating at the many times you will redo a level. It is that challenge that keeps gamers coming back for more. Trials of the Blood Dragon brings the same difficulty players love, but with a 80’s action film aesthetic. Trials of the Blood Dragon is out now and you can check out the very interesting trailer here.

Videogame movies are going through a resurgence or renaissance of some sorts right now. Apparently, the World of Warcraft movie is doing pretty alright at the box office with it being the highest grossing videogame film of all time. Next in line to take the crown is the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie. Ubisoft showed a behind-the scenes trailer of the movie. Everything looks great from the surface, but we will see how sharp this movie’s hidden blades are when it comes out December 21, 2016.

Watchdogs 2 took the stage showing off the populated landscape of San Francisco. This game looks pretty fun, but I feel this game will run into “all bark, no bite” problem. Basically, the trailer shows the viewer lots of cool stuff, but beyond that there is not much else to do besides to messing with people’s phones and cars. We will see. Watchdogs 2 DDOS’s a console near you on November 15, 2016.

Lastly, a new IP was announced entitled, Steep. Steep is an open-world or sports game in which you ski, snowboard, or glide your way through some steep snowing mountains. Think of the SSX franchise, but sponsored by GoPro. This game actually looks pretty cool, so hopefully gamers really take to it. Steep crashes into the market in December on this year.

Well, Ubisoft another conference down. Great job! Aisha Tyler was lively and witty as always. Now, Ubisoft just promise that you will ensure games come out when they are ready to come out and not half-done. Assassin’s Creed Unity, never forget.

 

 

 

 

A New Banner with a Can Do Attitude!

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First, I want to give a big shout out to Matthew Wright of WrightWorks Production. He is the one who created this awesome new banner for me! Technically, there are 2 versions! The second version can only be seen on my Twitter @JavonOnThePrgm Anywho, if you need a digital art piece to showcase for a blog or a video WrightWorksProduction got you covered!

So as I continue my transition into graduate school, I have been filled with a warming sensation of gratitude. Since, my freshman year in undergrad people told me I should start a blog. My friends constantly telling me that there is an audience waiting to hear what I have to say. Of course, I thought they were just saying that so I would stop bogging them down with deep videogame discussions. So what changed? How did I go from being skittish about expressing my thoughts online to having close to 100 posts at this point?

The spring of 2014 is when I found my mentor who was going to help me become the researcher I never knew I could be. He believed in me and believed in my passion to become a videogame expert, writer, or researcher…something. So, if someone was going to believe in me, I first had to believe in myself. I took that leap of faith and created my blogsite.

June 9, 2014 is when I published my first blog post entitled, “Welcome to Jaystonee on the Program!” I was nervous as hell. I was expecting that no one was going to read it, especially since it was my first post. As I was hanging out with my cousin’s over their place, around 9pm my phone buzzed. I don’t remember the exact wording, but the person congratulated me on publishing my first post. I was ecstatic! The next morning I was elated to see a few more people had emailed me saying congrats and keep it up. That gave me the push to continue writing.

2 years later, I now have close to a 100 posts under my belt and can see the growth and development of my blog. I am still learning, but I am grateful to have many followers and the support of my friends, family, and colleagues.

This blogsite is meant to bridge the gap between an academic’s perspective of videogame culture and those who also love videogames and would like to know a little bit more about the settle and overt nuisances within the medium. I am a gamer. I am a researcher. I am a games researcher, specifically focused on videogames. This blogsite is for anyone within either or both spaces like myself. This blog is for people who just want to understand this whole gaming thing in general! So help me share this space for others to learn from and discuss.

Pressing Start on a New Beginning

Pressing Start on a new beginningI started gaming when I was 7 or 8 years old. I grew up in the time when Nintendo dominated the videogame market and FuncoLand was a gamer’s paradise. As I matured, so did the videogames and the technology used to play them. Newcomer’s Sony and Microsoft released these machines that took the world by storm with new controllers and IP’s. The fantasy world of Final Fantasy to the colorful realm of the Mushroom Kingdom open my mind to the many pathways and narratives games could take me and I have never been the same since.

I am now 22 years old and still become jittery and anxious when a new videogame that I want hits store shelves. The fresh scent of a new videogame once you rip apart the plastic covering is the same feeling of opening a gift on Christmas morning or going to your favorite restaurant and ordering the new special. However, I do miss being able to consistently play for hours on end everyday, but those days are long gone. Those days of going straight home right after school to pay Halo 3 are over.

Not being able to play games everyday is not all bad, especially as you grow older and take on more responsibilities in life. I take great pleasure when I am able to hop online and kill a couple grunts for a few hours. It makes each playthrough more meaningful. Though I cannot play games as often does not mean I have strayed from all of gaming culture. Quite the contrary, I am now a graduate student who wants to know more and add to this lively and diverse culture.

I recently graduated with my Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park. This achievement was merely a dream for my mother that has now become reality. It was at my alma mater where I was able to take my passion of videogames and turn it into an academic pursuit. Now, I am a 1st year PhD student at Indiana University in the School of Informatics and Computing. This is mind blowing to me! I am getting paid to studying videogames and to fully immerse myself in what encompasses gaming culture!

I say this to let the people who trivialize and stereotype gamers as loud, violent, socially awkward, and live in a basement that they’re wildly misinformed . Yes, some fit these characteristics, but there is such a huge range of gamers that it is hard to pin down what all gamers act like and/or look like. What I can say is that gamers are hardworking in the pursuit of being better than once they were before. Gamers are excellent collaborators even if the reward are strictly for one’s on benefit, however most games give rewards to other players involvement in the collaborative effort.

So as I embark on this new journey to become an expert in videogame culture I want to say thank you. Thank you to the many people who I have played videogame with, discussed games with, and those who pushed me to starting this blog about videogames.

Thank you! Another adventure awaits and I am ready to press start to begin once more!

“Catch ‘Em All” Not a Court Case!

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Pokemon GO has been a blast! Sure the game freezes when catching a high CP Pokemon, my GPS location gets “lost”, and I always seem to be “too far away” from a Pokestop, but I am still enjoying myself. Us Pokemon trainers have walked many miles and went through many Pokeballs to catch those very difficult Pokemon. However, I am a disturbed by the behaviors a lot of us are displaying, myself included. I have come across articles such as, “Pokemon GO Player crashes his car into a tree“, “Men Fall from cliff playing Pokemon Go“, and this one from my alma mater, “Pokemon Go players robbed on University of Maryland campus.” I stand firmly in the belief that Pokemon GO is a wonderful game in concept, but we are not in the reality to properly enjoy it. Anyway, it is here now, so we all have a duty to ensure that we are catching these virtual pets responsibly and safely. From my observations here are some bad behaviors that we should drastically change.

1) Please do not blindly walk through traffic staring at your phone

This is not just a problem that has occurred due to playing Pokemon GO, but a problem this internet connected society collectively needs to fix. It’s dangerous! It’s dangerous! It’s dangerous! You cannot catch that Pikachu while you’re in the hospital…or maybe you can!? That’s besides the point. Just be aware of cars before you cross the street and while you’re crossing it.

2) Walk in groups and play within crowds

Okay, so this is a little tricky. For those of us who are able to go with friends or other trainers please do so, especially at night. I would say go in a group of 4 or more. Again, this is all about safety. If you do not have companions to go Pokemon hunting with then you explore at your own risk. Just be vigilant! Personally, I walk with at least one friend during the day if I can and at least 4 or 5 if I Poke-hunt at night. For full disclosure, I do not do pre-plan hunting nights. It is always when I am already out that night with friends that we go out to catch Pokemon.  Lastly, catching Pokemon in crowded areas such as a mall seems fine to do, but still be vigilant regardless of the location you are at.

3) Do not block foot traffic when catching Pokemon

It is just common courtesy to not stand in the middle of the sidewalk when you know there are other people walking behind you. To save battery, when you tap the screen to capture a Pokemon disable the “AR” (augmented reality) functionality. Disabling the AR function puts the Pokemon in a fixed position, therefore allowing you to capture the Pokemon as you are moving.

4) Do not leave your personal belongings unattended

Just the other night, I was catching Pokemon with friends at a very popular spot on campus. There were many Pokemon trainers out that night. As I sat slightly upset that my phone was dying I noticed that someone left their purse unattended on a bench. A whole 2 minutes went by before a woman came over with her kids to grab the purse and left. I believe it was her purse, but hey I will never know for sure.

5) Do not catch and drive.

Just don’t do it! If you have a passenger in the car, then let them keep track of nearby Pokestops and Pokemon. Endangering your life and others is not worth capturing virtual creatures.

6) Do not let team pride divide us.

I get it. People love seeing their team flourish which comes with the occasional trash talking about other teams. So far I have not seen a headline saying that an all out brawl occurred because someone did not put any #repseck on other person’s team. Though the memes are hilarious, let’s just keep it friendly.

7) Try to catch ’em all on public property not private.

Look. People are already on high alert and suspicious of everyone that walks by them. The last thing you want to happen is that you are being interrogated and/or arrested because you wandered onto school grounds or someone’s residence. Do not let the thrill of the hunt get you in trouble. Try to catch ’em all meaning Pokemon, not a court case.

I am sure there are many more behaviors that need to change, but these are the main ones I have witnessed and/or heard about. Unfortunately, robbers will still be out there ready to steal from players, but we can mitigate the risks of that happening by walking in big wolf packs. Now let’s play responsibly and safely. Peace out, there is a Dratini outside!

Pokemon GO: Black Reality interfacing with Augmented Reality

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Pokemon GO is great! This game has millions of gamers and counting from around the world investing their time and battery life into catching Pokemon. This augmented reality game has created a mass movement of exploration and collaboration amongst a community stereotyped as anti-social, non-active basement dwellers. I cannot remember the last time I went outside to walk around and actually felt a sense of discovery.

I decided to start my adventure at a park with a friend who lives nearby. Her and I walked around for about 30 minutes in 90-degree weather to capture Pokemon ,and do battle because the park was also a gym (a virtual arena for Pokemon battling). As we were hard at work becoming Pokemon masters there was a young woman, college-aged, sitting on a bench. Eventually, she walked over and asked my friend and I, “Are you guys playing Pokemon GO?” After responding yes, I took a moment to reflect on what just happened. Isn’t weird to ask a random person what they’re doing on their phone? I followed up by asking the woman, “What level are you?” I do not remember what she said, but she was at a good level with some strong Pokemon.

My friend and I continued walking and headed towards our local university to see what Pokemon were lurking on school grounds. We stayed on campus for about 40 minutes nabbing Pokemon while noticing the many groups of students closely watching their screens and praying to catch something good. It was an amazing sight to see.

Let’s fast forward a couple days later. I decided to grab a smoothie before I headed to my friend’s place again. With smoothie in hand, I hopped on my bike and started my trip back. As I was biking, I passed a police officer who turned out of the parking lot from the campus police station. No words or eye contact were exchanged between the police officer and I, however this overwhelming sense of fear and disgust loomed over me. I slowed my bike down because I noticed I had been staring at the police officer for at least 5 seconds. To be clear, I have nothing against that particular officer. But the institution that he is apart of is what stunned me.

On July 6,2016  I heard about the tragic death of Alton Sterling due to police brutality. I shook my head in disappointment, but went about my day as usual. As my mother drove me to work the next, I heard about the death of Philando Castile on the radio. That is when I mentally checked out from reality. My mother was explaining how she felt, but I was not listening. I wasn’t listening because my heart hurt to much. I wasn’t listening because I felt no one was listening to those you are calling for an end to this kind of injustice and disregard for human life. I wasn’t listening, but I was enveloped in fear and disgust. I have a Scrabble-like game on my phone in which I use to get my brain jump-started in the morning. However, it was different this time. Way different. The game was no longer a tool to enhance my vocabulary and response time, but a filter to channel my anger, my fear, and to hold back my tears especially, since my mother was right next to me.

On July 6, 2016 Pokemon GO was released in the U.S. Pokemon GO was also released in a reality that does not deserve it and/or can handle it responsibly. From the time of this post, there was the horrendous Dallas police shooting, people robbing Pokemon GO players, and many accidents happening due to people’s impulse to pay more attention to the game then the road. Pokemon GO is widely accessible, and still being released in other territories, but who has the privilege to play it without worrying about anything?

I am a 22-year-old black male, a recent graduate from a well-known institution, and heading to graduate school to become a Doctor of Philosophy in Informatics studying videogame culture. However, none of that matters because my skin color is all the information a racist officer needs to interrogate me. That is all the background an officer needs to ensure that my day is ruined and life feels threaten in the midst of their power.

Pokemon GO is all about exploring your environment and hopefully leveling up with friends. It’s just too bad that I cannot explore my environment in a comfortable state due my blackness. It feels miserable to spend more time wondering where law enforcement are rather than focusing on where a Paras, an Oddish, or Venonant are located. Black Pokemon GO players are playing two games at once; the augmented reality game of capturing virtual creatures and the physical reality of the pressure to look non-suspicious and non-threatening. The game of chance of catching a rare Pokemon and the game of life of not getting arrested and/or killed because of America’s racial bias towards black bodies.

As the days go on and as I do my best to catch them all, I have to be even more aware of my surroundings. I have to be cognizant of the fact that I am not seen as a student or a gamer first, but a criminal. I will still go out and strive for excellence in all sense of the word, but I must be aware that everyday outside could be my last. That a traffic stop could be my final stop. Pokemon GO is a privilege for many, but a risk for some. I wonder, is spending hours in virtual spaces hindering my life, or ensuring that I can see another day?