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Alexes’ Alley…

April 25, 2011, 7:18 PM

I’m sure that many of you have seen me talk about two of my coworkers, Alex Patton and Alex Beauchamp, on here before. You may recall that Patton pranked me pretty well for April Fool’s 2010, and then Beauchamp came by an Anon raid in August. It’s these two folks, on either side of me, seen here from last summer:

Alex Patton, me, and Alex Beauchamp
Photo: Sarah Alexander

That’s Patton on the left, and Beauchamp on the right.

Lately, though, the two of them have been asking about getting a spot on Schumin Web for a column of sorts, and sent me a sample first entry. I took a look at the sample, and was split on the matter. I liked what I saw, in that I thought it was a really good column with great potential. However, for Schumin Web, as I feared, it seemed a bit out of scope, i.e. it wasn’t a good fit with the rest of the content.

So while it’s not a great fit with the content on this site, I told them that I think that it’s a great concept, and that they should start a standalone blog called “Alexes’ Alley”, their proposed title (“Alexes'” spelled and punctuated like that because it’s two people, both named Alex). Thus we’re piloting the concept here, and seeing what everyone thinks of the format. And here it is…

Hey everyone – longtime Schumin Web readers, first time guest columnists Alex Beauchamp and Alex Patton here. We’ve been pestering Ben about letting us have a guest spot for several months now, and he’s finally agreed to it! Because there are two of us and we don’t really know how to write together, we’ve decided to make this column a conversation. Since we share a first name, people who know both of us often call us by our last names, Beauchamp and Patton. Another way in which people distinguish us is to use “Nice Alex” (Beauchamp) and “Mean Alex” (Patton). Just to be clear here, it’s not that Patton is particularly mean – it’s just relative to Beauchamp, who is especially good-natured.

Our first topic is one we’re both pretty obsessed with: a fantastic game for the Nintendo Wii called Monster Hunter. The title is pretty accurate, because the game is all about hunting monsters. Patton will start us off in this sure-to-be fascinating discussion about the game.

Patton: I’ve played lots of video games in my life, but none have I put as much time into as Monster Hunter, which I’ve now been playing for a year straight. Sometimes I feel like it might be an unhealthy obsession, or at least a huge waste of time. But, as some British guy named Bertrand Russell once said, “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” So when people make fun of me for playing too much Monster Hunter, I tell them that and they shut right up. Actually, they don’t, but it still makes me feel better about having spent over 300 hours of my life on a video game.

Beauchamp, you were the one who got me hooked on this game, so I’ll let you explain what’s so great about it.

Beauchamp: Trying to explain what’s so great about Monster Hunter is like trying to explain what makes Hemingway’s writing so compelling or what makes a great reuben so irresistible. The trick to the game is that there is no trick – it’s just fun. I’ve been playing Monster Hunter for a year now, and, while I can’t boast to Mean Alex’s impressive 300 hours logged, I have dedicated 118 hours of my own life to the game. What’s amazing is that after that many hours (almost five days’ worth), I still have the urge to play. In fact, if anything, the game has become more addictive.

Apart from it simply being fun to hunt giant monsters, a huge part of the game’s appeal is that the player can constantly upgrade the character’s armor. So as I play the game, I’m always trying to get a better weapon or better armor for Bill (the name of my character – I don’t remember why he’s named Bill, but I can’t figure out how to change it). Each weapon or armor set has a unique set of skills and abilities, giving me almost limitless ways to customize Bill. Equally important is that these new weapons or armor sets are difficult to make, as I have to have Bill slay an incredible number of monsters before I have the materials I’ll need. Because this takes a long while, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment once I finally have everything I need.

Mean Alex, I’ll toss it over to you. Why exactly, have you chosen to spend 300 glorious hours hunting monsters?

Patton: I’ve asked myself that same question more than few times, especially when I’ve thought about how I should be studying for the GRE or doing laundry instead of playing a game. Beauchamp mentioned the sense of accomplishment he feels upon finally gathering the necessary materials to make a new set of armor, and I understand exactly what he means. But that’s probably the most absurd aspect of Monster Hunter: After playing for a few hours, I often feel this great sense of having achieved something meaningful and important. It’s the same feeling you might have after you’ve gone for a long run, or finished a lengthy paper for work or school. The difference is that those accomplishments are actual accomplishments. Getting a new armor set in Monster Hunter is a proud moment I can share with precisely three other people. No one else will understand how impressive my achievement was care.

So there you have it. What do you think? Do we have a winner? Is it ready for prime time? Let me know, and most importantly, let them know. If you message me, I will of course pass on any constructive feedback you may have. Alternately, feel free to message Alex Beauchamp directly on the Twitter @alexcbeauchamp.

Web site: A little background on the Monster Hunter game, since I was a little unfamiliar with it initially.

Song: Trailer for Monster Hunter

Quote: Again, feedback, feedback, feedback! Drop me a note on Schumin Web, or, if you can say it in 140 characters or less, message Alex Beauchamp directly on the Twitter @alexcbeauchamp.

Categories: Video games