Traveling Tips

Vanguard - Saga of Heroes

My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer – A Social Outing

Posted by | Gaming, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | 2 Comments

I’m a firm believer that gaming leads to life skills. You’ve seen it in the other Secret Life of an Expat Gamer entries. Just as I was running 15 to 25 man crews for the construction business back in the day, I was also running teams of 30 to 40 players through raids and dungeons for six years, leading the guild to two different top 10 lists in my time as a hardcore gamer (EQ2, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes). Management. Team-building. Teamwork. Leadership. For more information, don’t forget to read the other entries in the series!

To the non-gamer, it might not be readily evident what is meant as “social” when it comes to video games. While it’s fewer and farther between these days, I still manage to somehow know several individuals in my own walk of life who are part of the non-gamer group who view video games as a waste of time and/or somehow bad for you. For the most part, almost everyone is familiar with games these days and almost every household has some type of console or at least a computer. If not that, a smart phone. And while free-to-play games on Facebook and other platforms have brought the aspect of video gaming to an even wider audience, the social platform hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, it’s only grown in importance.

Obviously single player games don’t fall into this category, but massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) do. There is a social dynamic in these environments that very much operates like the real world. Because you are playing at the same time with other, real people, and most of the MMOGs focus on content that caters to both the single player as well as the multiplayer, eventually there comes a point where you must cultivate friendships and work in a group dynamic to achieve in-game goals. And while the non-gamer might scoff at the thought of having “fake” goals inside of a video game, they serve a very unique purpose.

Part of what makes the online experience so alluring is the fact that you can take on another persona. Addictive for some personalities, but just plain fun for the vast majority of gamers, it’s the chance to shed your “real life” skin and step away from the daily grind to immerse yourself in something purely done for your enjoyment. It’s downtime. Entertainment. No different than reading a book, going to see a movie in the theater, heading to the opera, the ballet, fishing while the sun comes up (or goes down), playing chess or any other myriad things that human beings do for entertainment. And with that additional persona comes very lifelike characteristics.

Which means that when you are playing these online multiplayer games where you have a character inside of a virtual world somewhere (a world that might be science fiction, fantasy, historical, etc.) who has his or her own life. And when you come up against goals in the game where you have to work together, social structure is formed. This takes place in the form of “guilds” or “warpacks” or any other number of names, but which are really nothing more than groups of players working together towards a common goal. These groups usually have a leader and a group of players spread out beneath the leader who are officers and then the regular membership. You might also see a more “Roman Republic” style as well, such as a council of ruling members who are voted in place by their peers. Other groups rotate their members on a regular basis to ensure everyone has a chance at being in the driver’s chair.

But in all these group scenarios there is a dynamic that takes place. Friendships are forged. Relationships are made. And not just in-game friendships or relationships. Real, actual, relationships where people will become friends or more with individuals from other countries who start out gaming together and then end up finding out through social interaction via the game that they have a lot in common…move in together and go from there. And many long-term gamer group exist who regularly meet up for beers and steaks or camping trips. People are working together towards a common goal, which means they are usually the same/similar type of people, so it’s easy to make friends.

And regardless of which type of guild you join, you have to deal with managerial aspects at the upper tiers. Running a guild is like running a company. You have to have a clear direction, a group of people working together, a PR department to bring in new recruits, an HR department to head off any issues between the regular members and the guild officers who are busy trying to keep the big wheel turning in terms of scheduling group events in the game and coordinating everyone’s efforts according to the directive of the people in charge. It’s a corporate setting. You have a clear ruling elite (management) with a workforce of regular people (normal members) beneath them who are content to be part of the overall group without being leaders. The only difference is that people aren’t receiving actual salaries in these games.

The working relationships, however, are real. You learn how to manage time, you learn how to work well with others, you learn how to function as part of a team, you deal with social dynamics, scheduling, campaigning, scratching-their-back-so-they-will-scratch-your-back and just about every other thing you would ever come across in the working environment in the real world.

As a traveler this works to your advantage, because you might often find yourself forging online friendships that are carried out in your journey. I have gamer friends in Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Bulgaria, Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom, and with the exception of the people in the colder northern sections of Europe, I’ve actually met most of them in real life at one point or another, even if it’s only for a weekend in a town near where one of us lives and we meet up for beers and pizza.

It’s also a great way to stay in touch even if you happen to be on the road away from your loved ones because you can be doing something together as a group so that the social dynamic never goes away. Just as a family would go out to a movie together to spend two hours performing a group activity together to bond and strengthen family ties, they can do the same thing in a game. It doesn’t matter if it’s slaying dragons, taking down an enemy ship, figuring out a puzzle together, finish saving the princess, rescue the elves, shooting aliens, building items and forging weapons. What matters is that these activities are being enjoyed and participated in as a group, together. Which makes gaming just as social as any other activity.

I find gaming one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with friends and family, because it’s something we can do together as a group even if I’m sitting in an apartment somewhere in the middle of Brazil, Australia, Italy or any other country. It’s something you can take with you, and it’s something that doesn’t restrict you in terms of locality.

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With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

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Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer

Posted by | Gaming, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | 2 Comments

In the early days it was Zork, Zak McCracken, the King’s Quest, Quest for Glory and Space Quest series of games (and anything/everything from LucasArts and Sierra for about a decade), on to the second generation of things like Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, Icewind Dale, Diablo and the subsequent series of games that spawned out of those, from the sequels to the new evolution, such as Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic,, Dungeon Siege, Morrowind and numerous other choices, all the way up to the modern era with ongoing Elder Scrolls, Assassin’s Creed, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Crysis, Halo and other series stepping up to the plate.

And when I’m not playing single player RPGs I have my stalwart MMORPG companions that I’ve been involved with since the mid-90s when I started with Shadows of Yserbius and moved on to EverQuest, EverQuest II, World of Warcraft, Star Wars: Galaxies, Guild Wars, Tabula Rasa, The Lord of the Rings Online, Aion and now Star Wars: The Old Republic while I wait on Guild Wars II and EverQuest III.

In short, I’m a gamer. I don’t play every game that comes out, but I play the majority of them. And I play at least a couple of hours just about every day of the week, usually in the mornings when I’m first waking up and drinking my three cups of coffee. After that I have breakfast, play a little more and then I work out, shower and work for a few hours. I usually go out in the afternoon for a few hours (beach, hanging out with friends, walking), come back, take a short nap, get up and do some more work before I either watch one of the TV shows that I follow, go out with friends/girlfriend or play some more games.

When I first got started as a digital nomad and was just getting started in my career as a writer, the first gig I got was based specifically on my time in MMORPGs as a worldwide, top 10 guild leader in Everquest II and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (18 months in beta, 6 months in live), as well as writing up RPG storylines for friends and guildmates to participate in. I started writing articles for GamerGod, along with EQ2-related articles and strategy guides. I moved on to writing for MMO Hub regarding the balance between RL careers and in-game careers as a guild leader/officers/members of a raiding guild and then onto writing strategy guides for Killer Guides (EQ2 and LOTRO) before I stepped down from the guild leading capacity and just started gaming as a peon.

In other words…I was getting paid to write articles and guides about something that had been my primary passion aside from travel for all the years previous: gaming and exploring the world have always been my two favorite things (aside from reading, which I can’t even consider a hobby so much as a side effect of my addiction and my career choice as a writer; it’s just something that is as natural to me as air and water).

I firmly believe in the need for people to have some form of hobby or passion that is theirs and theirs alone. One that isn’t necessarily shared with your loved one (although it’s great if it is shareable), but is in every way, shape or form the very essence of you. It might be painting, singing, acting, watching TV, sports or some other form of “entertainment” that is enjoyed for the pure aspect of entertainment, but it is something that you enjoy indulging every spare moment you get.

Some people call these breaks mini-vacations, and promote that you take numerous variations per year, enjoying the spoils of war and treating yourself to the nice life so you can be rejuvenated in your job/life back home. And while travel is one of my major motivators, one of my personal “vacations” is the fact that every morning I have the freedom to ignore the world for two to four hours, drink my coffee, escape reality and indulge in some absolutely perfect “me” time that is categorized as purely entertainment.

Everyone needs pure entertainment in their lives, and it’s one of the things I enjoy so much about living abroad in other countries. It’s in all the guides I write, and all the lifestyle products: absolute freedom and early retirement. When you have the first you have the latter, and you can have all the time in the world to set aside for your hobbies. It relieves stress, enables you to enjoy life by allowing you ample time to spend on the things you want out of life and ultimately helps create a more creative environment for your mind to thrive both at work and at play.

I’m going to be writing an ongoing series this month talking more about the benefits of gaming and traveling, and how you can find spare time no matter where you are in the world to enjoy the little hobbies in life that make yours worth living. I’ll also be covering some of the ways that gaming can benefit your life socially while on the road, as well as the business connections it can lead to.

You can work as hard as you want but if you aren’t rewarding yourself with the spoils of that hard work there’s really no point in it. Live life, don’t simply work to live.

What are some of your favorite games of yours over the years, and what are some hobbies that you find inspiring in your down time and utilize as a daily or weekly “brain reset”?

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

Unplug from The System, cure yourself of The Greedy Bastard Syndrome, tap into your universal potential and create your own reality. Build a brand, travel the world and realize your cosmic consciousness.

Beyond Borders - The Social RevolutionGet Your Copy Today!

Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Posted by | Live Like a Local, Mexico, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | No Comments

So for those of you who have been following Marginal Boundaries since the beginning, you know it’s been a long, continual growth as part of our overall business plan. Part of which was eventually getting to the point where we started producing videos.

Today we launch the first of those videos, with a teaser of Cancun and the Riviera Maya at our Vimeo Channel. Clocking it at just under four minutes, it’s some footage we’ve captured over the past couple of weeks as we’ve been going about our normal routine, doing the things we do normally as part of living like a local in this part of Mexico. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be adding additional footage of Tulum, Isla Mujeres and other areas in and around Cancun for inclusion in what will eventually be a roughly 10 minute montage of things from in and around the area.

We also have an interview going live in the coming week, which will be posted at the Vimeo channel as well as over at The Expat Guidebook. I was recently interviewed by Hans from over at Cheap Cancun Rentals regarding the forthcoming Expat Guidebook, and we’ve edited down 50 minutes of interview into about 14 minutes of footage that will serve as an introduction to the book. In addition, we’ll also be releasing a stand-alone video that covers the depth of medical tourism, although we don’t have a release date for that yet. Roughly 20 minutes of our interview was discussing the topic of medical tourism in great detail, and the footage is going to be cut down to make a separate video for people.

All of these videos will be posted live at the Vimeo channel. In addition, I’ll be heading out in late March or early April (we’ve pushed back the dates a couple of weeks now) to spend 18 days shooting footage in Chiapas, Mexico for a travelogue/documentary. We’ll be sharing the trailer on our Vimeo channel, as well as starting to post a vblog and other interesting tidbits about living like a local around the world.

Stay tuned for more information!

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

Unplug from The System, cure yourself of The Greedy Bastard Syndrome, tap into your universal potential and create your own reality. Build a brand, travel the world and realize your cosmic consciousness.

Beyond Borders - The Social RevolutionGet Your Copy Today!