Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This is a Tree House, Interview

This is DigitalHawkeye. He is a veteran of hundreds of battles, combatant in foreign times and dimensions, and a widely respected soldier of fortune. He has been maimed, betrayed, mauled, and deified. Yet he survives.

That's him in his tree house.

DigitalHawkeye's real name is Peter Jensen. I interviewed Pete a few weeks ago for an earlier project. Last time we found out Pete is 25, lives with his parents, goes to community college, and works full time. This week, I wanted to focus on his gaming habit. A habit Pete himself thinks borders on addiction, but not in that tragic, mopey, Train Spotting way.

I'm talking to Pete, (or P.J.) over the phone. The connection is full of static, and I can here him playing Modern Warfare 2 in the background.

P.J.: "Yes, I suppose I am addicted to minecraft. I play anywhere from 1-6 hours a day. I've been doing that ever since I learned about it approximately two months ago."

Travis: "Is it escapism?"

P.J.: "Yes."

Peter has been addicted to other games in the past. It started out with a Computer Role Playing Game (CRPG) named The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. Later, Arx Fatalis. Eventually, World of Warcraft eclipsed all those addictions. To Peter it was like crack compared to Morrowind's coke.

But that's all in the past. World of Warcraft is dead to Peter. Now it's Minecraft. And throughout it all, DigitalHawkeye has been his handle. So we talk about where it came from.

He thinks it goes back to playing early PC shooters. The Doom series, Counter Strike, Unreal Tournament. He probably picked up the the handle in the mid to late 90's. He started with Hawkeye, and added Digital in front of it because Hawkeye was already taken. But when I ask how he came up with Hawkeye, the answer surprised me. He really likes The Last of the Mohicans. Hawkeye was the name of an orphaned white man sharpshooter who had been raised by the Mohicans. More thought went into this handle than most gamers put into theirs.

Peter's phone dies. Its a few minutes before he calls back, but now it's dinner time.

Meanwhile, I reacquaint myself with Minecraft. It's pretty fun. The player is a crude block person, in a crude block world. At night you flee zombies, at day you build forts, and mine for metals and resources. It has ugly graphics, but that's by design.

When Peter can talk again, we agree to take a tour of his creations. We log onto a private server running out of crazy religious school in the boondocks of Illinois and get started. That's what this video covers, mostly. Peter shows me his treefort, a sky highway, massive mines, and lava works. If you're a nerd, you love this stuff.

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