What a Game – Asher McMullin

Games have been an important part of human history. From ancient times to our times, games have evolved to reflect the values, culture and the lives of the people who created and played games. For me, games have been a way to learn, explore and create things in a way I was not able to with other forms of media. Because of this, I decided to ask other students about the games that have been impactful on their lives as a way of encouraging others to engage with this media.

Junior Asher McMullin.
Photo by Anton Zemba.

Walking into the Conservatory at midnight, one might hear the faint sounds of the viola. Those notes are sounding off to the movements of the bow made by none other than junior Asher McMullin.

McMullin is a viola performance major and originally started at Lawrence in 2015. After his freshman year, he took off for two years on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Jacksonville, Florida. After returning, he continued his career at Lawrence. “I like practicing between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. because no one else is there,” he said. “You get super sleepy, but after you leave and head to bed, I have found it easy to fall asleep.” Along with his major, he is in fiddle club. He also spends time writing and plans on participating in the up-and-coming national novel writing month this November. When he is not doing any of that, you may be lucky to catch him playing tennis down by the Fox River.

McMullin likes to see progress in the things he does, feeling the joy of accomplishment. It seemed almost natural to him when he brought up “Dota 2,” a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game developed by Valve Corp. and released in 2013. “You have like a hundred something different heroes to choose from,” he said.
“There are five people per team and you are trying to get through the enemy team’s towers and defenses. Every game is always different because of how many different heroes there are.” For anyone familiar with the game “League of Legends,” “Dota 2” is  similar.

“I started playing Winter Term of freshman year,” McMullin said. “1,800 hours later I was like, ‘Okay, here we go.’” He became dedicated to this game for many reasons: he found it a good way to connect with his friends, found the gameplay relaxing and really enjoyed seeing how far he has progressed. “I could feel myself progressing and getting better and better,” he said. “Even over the course of a couple days, a couple weeks, a couple months or whatever. You could really see the progress being made with a certain hero or a certain role or being better at talking to teammates, etc. In most of the other things I do in life, like viola, tennis and writing, I do not really see as quick of progress because it is so gradual. With ‘Dota 2,’ I can see myself getting better day-to-day and week-to-week.”

Seeing progress is an important motivator in becoming better. “Dota 2” was able to give McMullin that visible progress which helped motivate him to continue with his other pursuits. “‘Dota 2’ helped me push through and made accomplishing things satisfying in general,” he said. “In viola, it is like, ‘What are you going to accomplish?’ You could win a competition or something and compete once or twice a year, but that is if you are good enough.” He continued, “In ‘Dota 2,’ it is like, ‘I played really well and was able to help my team in this way,’ which is a lot more direct than viola. I win at ‘Dota 2;’ you cannot really win at viola or writing.”

McMullin also mentioned, however, that  “if you become too focused on anything in life, it detracts from other parts of life.” He continued, “When playing ‘Dota 2,’ I try to make sure to only play so much in a day or  week so that I still have the time to do other things I love in life, like viola and writing and all that other stuff.” He clarified this was not so much a warning about playing “Dota 2,” but just a general statement.

So, in those concluding hours of one day and the wee hours of the next, the sound of the viola rang through the hallways of the Con … or maybe some excitement in winning a match or two of “Dota 2.”