USA Today College Feature

For my work on the crazy video gaming piece, I was featured in a January portion of USA Today | College. Here’s a portion of my interview and the link to the piece in its entirety.

Student plays video games for 24 hours straight… and lives to write about it

By: Dan Reimold

Late last semester, Miles Parks decided to play video games for 24 hours straight. Or in his words, “I was going to sit and game and turn my cerebral cortex into applesauce.”

The University of Tampa student, an admittedly light gamer, conducted the multi-player, multi-platform, multi-game experiment in part to better understand his many friends and classmates who “can sit down at one end of an evening and beat up bad guys until the sun rises.”

Amid the endless sports games and a helping of Mario Party, Parks kept a running diary and a video log, enabling his audience to slowly follow his descent into cranky numbness.

“Honestly, I’m spent,” he wrote after hour 12.  “I eat pasta and I can barely even enjoy it.  I’m so hungry and so tired and I feel nauseous.  My stomach hurts and feels queasy and I’ve had a headache for five hours. . . . I’ve given up keeping track of my wins and losses.  The outcome doesn’t really matter anymore.”

At the close of the marathon session, he slept heartily and awoke feeling guilty about the time he had wasted in front of the Wii, Xbox, and Playstation.

Yet, gaming’s pull still proved strong.  The next night, he watched football at a friend’s house.  As he recounted in a piece for The Minaret, “I get up to leave and he asks if I want to play a game of NHL with him on Xbox. . . . ‘Just one,’ I reply.”

In the Q&A below, Parks talks more about the challenge’s rigors and rationale and video games’ role in subverting students’ undergraduate experiences.

Q: First, what motivated you to take on this challenge?

A: I’ve been reading a lot of first-person writing over the past few months and it’s pretty obvious that if you truly want an entertaining story, you’ve got to go big and you’ve got to do something you relate to.  I’m in college; half of my friends spend their lives attached to a television.  As I mention in the story, my mom has always drilled into my head that video games are bad for your soul.  Basically, I’ve had these two opposing viewpoints shown to me about a prominent part of pop culture, and I wanted to see who was right.  The best way to do that was to write about it.

Q: What are your thoughts on the video game culture you see among students nowadays?

A: What I’ve begun to realize is that this culture and these electronics affect everyone differently, similar to drug use.  Some people can smoke [ahem, certain illegal substances] and still write papers and get straight As.  Others are going to end up on their couch with a bag of Fritos and a 1.8 GPA.

I think the ones who are really obsessed with video games need to take a deep breath and a step back.  You’re paying your tuition (which for me, at a private university, is upwards of $30,000 a year) to sit in your bedroom or living room.  At some point, you’ve got to take advantage of your environment.  It’s cliché but it’s true.  You’re not going to remember what you did in that game on that couch in 30 years.  We’re not truly diving headfirst into our education if we’re spending even a couple hours a day in front of a television.

The rest of the piece can be found here on USA Today College.