What happens to the hobbies you have fallen in love with after you leave Lawrence?
For Sam Blair ‘19, he has kept his interest in gaming now that he has put up his cap and gown. Blair graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy with a minor in biomedical ethics. He now plays a lot of the online multiplayer first person shooter video game “Destiny 2.” Blair’s story started long before he even knew what IHRTLUHC was.
“I remember falling asleep on my Dad’s lap as he was playing ‘Doom,’” Blair said. “… I liked watching the fast-paced gameplay and the colors which lit up across the screen.”
As a first introduction to video games, Blair would engage with the entertainment aspect of gaming, calling “Doom” “orange monsters,” a fitting name for the daemonic-looking creatures roaming about in the game. This was also time to be around his dad growing up.
When Blair came to Lawrence, gaming was a way for him to build a community. Certain games have helped Blair “foster relationships between people, [through video games] like ‘Overwatch,’ ‘League of Legends’ or the ‘Super Smash Brothers’ series. Video games you play with a bunch of folks.”
All of these games are games which involve some level of communication, discussion and strategy, which help build connections with others. For someone who plays games, these can sometimes be a way for someone to get into a community when they are outside which is what helped Blair when he came to Lawrence. “These were the games the older, cooler kids on their personal set-ups at Gaming House played,” Blair explained.
Once he worked his way into the community, he was able to negotiate a place for a new up-and-coming title, “Overwatch.” “‘Overwatch’ I remember being a proponent for getting a team and a weekly night. It was a hot new thing and many people were interested. It was also to strike up a conversation by asking what character do you main.”
“Overwatch,” like “Doom” and “Destiny 2,” is a first-person shooter. “Overwatch” also quickly picked up steam, fostering a large community of multiplayer and competitive players. Blair joined in the fun and, partly because of his efforts, “Overwatch” is still a weekly event and still has a team in Gaming Club today.
As part of the in-group, Blair started making deeper connections with members of the club. Through a video game played with senior Emma Lookabaugh titled “Nier: Automata,” Blair was also able to create a close-knit friend group within the larger Gaming Club community.
“At this point, I had made friendships with folks and now we had something that wanted you to engage about it on a more cerebral level … ‘Nier: Automata’ would give you themes to discuss and questions to wonder … This video game was a very warm experience I can look back on.”
Now that Blair has graduated and the community he has built has spread out, his engagement has shifted some.
“[Playing video games] is still a sizable portion of my life,” Blair said. “I think right now I keep in contact with people who I have played ‘League of Legends’ and ‘Overwatch’ with from Lawrence. I have also been playing ‘Destiny 2’ with some of those friends I made from my time at Lawrence. Every now and again, there will be another ‘Nier: Automata’ that I want to discuss with someone.”
Blair believes games will continue to be part of his life going forward. In the sense of an entertainment and social format, he will continue playing “Destiny 2” with his friends across the world. He will also continue engaging with these questions which provoke questions and deeper thinking and imagining.