Jun 222014
 

I’m not religious. I don’t believe in a God. But I certainly respect people who do. I live my life respecting every person and their beliefs.

Going to church with dad and Sandra has really taught me a lot though. I still don’t believe in a God, but I’ve been taught to be more open minded. Because as much as I respect people’s beliefs, I didn’t really accept them as what I considered ‘believable’ and now I do. Now I see that they are just living their lives as I am trying to do as well, with their own set of beliefs. So thank you dad, Sandra, and Pastor Sean for opening my mind.

Jun 192014
 

Chapter 1

It was a bright sunny day the day Alice Winshaw’s mother took her own life. Nobody could have known. Nobody saw it coming. She was a happy woman, who always had a bright smile to light up her face. So when her fourteen year old daughter found her mother hanging from her ceiling fan by a rope, the devastation sent a shock-wave throughout the whole community. Hundreds of people from the close-knit community of Bath, New York came to her funeral. Alice’s step-brothers flew in from Houston where they’d lived with their father, and Alice’s step-father, before he had died of cancer. The whole affair was a huge thing. But nobody stopped to ask Alice how she was handling it.

A month later, Alice was lying in her new room in Houston reading a book about the paranormal and wondering when her oldest step-brother Brody was going to get home from college. He’d left the three bedroom apartment around seven in the morning, before Alice was even awake, and had promised her that he would be home by four in the afternoon. It was four now, and the twenty one year old was nowhere to be found. Austin, the eighteen year old step-brother that also lived in the apartment, had been home since three, when his high school got out. The high school Alice would be attending next week. The thought alone sent a grimace to her face.

“I’m home!” The door opening brought Alice out of her thoughts as Brody’s voice rang through the apartment. She dog eared the page she had been reading, though she hadn’t actually been reading it, and threw the book onto her bed as she exited her room.

“Hey Brody.” She lifted her hand in a wave, following the man into the kitchen where he was rummaging around in the fridge, which had little to no food in it.

“There’s nothing to eat.” He complained, pushing the door closed and turning around to face his step-sister. “Did you eat everything, Alice?” He asked, chuckling as the girl rolled her strikingly green eyes.

“No, you did you big doof.” She replied, pushing his shoulder lightly. “Can we go get dinner and a coffee or something?” She asked, leaning back against the counter and brushing her light blond hair over her shoulder. Brody frowned slightly.

“I don’t think we’ve got enough money kiddo.” Her life had changed drastically since she’d moved in with her step-brothers, her only relatives willing to care for her, and being tight on money was definitely new to her. Her mother had never been tight on money. But the entire inheritance had gone to her real brother, a twenty two year old with loose morals and no real source of income. He didn’t speak to Alice, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. The two of them had a rocky relationship. It had been that way ever since Jacob had become a dirt-bag who manipulated people into giving him money to fuel his drinking and gambling habits.

“That’s fine. I can just have that left-over chicken.” She replied, sending Brody a bright smile and moving towards the fridge. Brody reached out as she passed him, ruffling her hair affectionately. He couldn’t believe how well she as adjusting to everything. She was such a trooper, and he couldn’t be more grateful that she didn’t seem to despise his tight money situation.

“Sorry Alice, I already ate that.” Austin suddenly appeared, pushing his shoulder-length black hair out of his bright blue eyes with a hesitant smile. “I didn’t know it was yours.” Alice fought to keep her smile on her face as she raised her hand in a gesture of peace.

“It’s fine! There’s some cereal in the pantry.” She beamed before turning back around and rummaging around for the cereal. Brody and Austin glanced at each other frowning. The two hated that they couldn’t give Alice what she needed, but Brody had a part time job at Target and Austin worked for Game Stop. Not exactly career material, and certainly not enough to support three people.

“No, it’s okay, we can go out.” Brody suddenly stated, grabbing Alice’s wrist as she went to pour the milk into her bowl of cereal.

“But I was really looking forward to enjoying this cereal though.” She replied. Brody shared a look with Austin. Both knew that she was lying for their sake and didn’t actually want cereal.

“That’s not a good source of protein, kiddo. Get your shoes on.” Brody responded, taking the bowl of cereal away from her. Alice frowned but complied anyway. She wasn’t about to deny real food, anyway.

After yanking her worn canvas shoes onto her feet she quickly tied them and grabbed her cell phone, not that she’d be needing it. The only two people she ever talked to were standing in the kitchen. She hadn’t had any really good friends in New York. Maybe one or two that she’d get together with after school, but nobody that she was missing horribly.

“Come on Alice, we don’t have all day!” Austin hollered, suddenly appearing in her bedroom door. “It doesn’t take that long to put on shoes!” Alice stuck her tongue out at the boy and followed him through the apartment to the front door.

“You guys have got to clean this place.” she stated, observing the trash and empty soda cans scattered around the living room.

“Shut up.” Brody snorted, pushing her out the door. “Now go!” The three siblings moved to the elevator.

“I’ll meet you guys down there.” Alice gestured to the door labeled ‘Stairs’. Austin and Brody glanced at each other before following her to the stairs.

“How come you hate elevators, Alice?” Austin asked curiously as they exited onto the street, narrowing their eyes against the bright setting sun. At least it wasn’t a hundred degrees, Alice observed.

“They’re just scary. Big metal boxes that lug people up and down all day. They’re sketchy.” Brody and Austin shared a chuckle at Alice’s explanation.

“Whatever you say, dude.” Austin replied, shrugging his shoulders at his step-sister’s weird fear.

Jun 032014
 

If you’ve ever played any MMORPG, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, then you have experienced the addiction factor that usually comes with it. Whether it’s a large addiction, like canceling plans and not leaving your house just to finish those few quests that will level your disproportioned cartoon character, or a smaller addiction, like thinking it about every time you are away from your computer, it can affect and unbalance your life in horrible ways.

Video games can be categorized as one of the main causes of sleep loss and deprivation in teenagers and young adults. The sleep deprivation then affects the quality of work you can do and the amount of time you can focus. Playing these addicting games such as World of Warcraft, Rift, Guild Wars, and many others, affects your entire day.

So why are they so addicting? When playing any game like that, I always end up playing until the early hours of the morning, and then my entire day, if not my week, are screwed up. I can’t pinpoint exactly why these games keep me and others like me captivated, staring at the computer screen for hours on end. I can only speculate.

1. The game play: Playing through several different quests tend to keep people busy. They are so focused on ‘slaying ten Ghostclaw Ravagers’ that they don’t even realize that thirty minutes has passed. The game play can include small quests like this, or larger ‘dungeons’ or ‘instances’ that take hours upon hours. The gameplay is different from normal video games like ‘Grand Theft Auto’ or ‘Call of Duty’ and keeps the player captivated and interested.

2. The social aspect: Playing with other people is the whole center of an MMORPG. It’s what makes them so much different from playing any other game on the computer or other console. Socially awkward people or those with anxiety disorders can find an easy way to socialize and belong to a group of people while not really needing to talk or ‘socialize’ with anyone. MMORPG’s make it easy for someone to have fun playing a game and make new friends, maybe even half way across the world. And who doesn’t want a friend that lives in Scotland?

3. The RPG aspect: Role playing games are some of the most fun games out there, in my opinion. It gives players the ability to step into someone else’s shoes completely and live a life they can only dream of. Role playing in general is an easy way to avoid reality. Most everyone wants to step out of reality at some point, so why not have some fun while you’re doing it?

4. Fantasy: Almost all MMORPG games are set in made-up fantasy worlds that consist of purple trees and elf-people with huge ears. And not only that, but character creation is almost a MUST in one of these games. Creating your own elf-person with huge ears and glowing eyes can be considered fun to anyone. And then you get to run around in cool-looking armor and kill things with a giant sword. The most fun ever.

There’s a lot of research done on why MMORPG’s seem to be more addictive than other games. There are several factors that are put into it, including factoring in things like the audience the games are targeting and the graphics of the game. All I know is that game developers are making bank on these adolescent and even mature adults who pay fifteen dollars a month to run around in the little cartoon world with other people and kill beasts. Maybe it makes them feel powerful. Who knows! All I know is that they’re really fun!