Who is Chris Forbis / MensaDad?
I’m a son, a husband (twice) & a father (thrice) – none of which I would change. I’ve been a drummer, a network engineer & an entrepreneur – but due to circumstances beyond my control, likely never again. I’m fat, bald and over 40 – 2 of which don’t bother me. I’m absolutely & completely in love.
My wife and I both enjoy Mensa-style puzzles. It evolved from there – calling each other Mensa Boy / Mensa Girl. Eventually Mensa Boy became a moniker we use to refer to our sons when they do something brilliant. That left us as Mensa Dad and Mensa Mom – Thus the GamerTag(s).
So, you are a member of MENSA, right?
No – none of us are members of Mensa or have been tested for membership – but maybe, someday. For now it’s just a nickname.
Why I Love Video Games.
In March of 2006 I was forced to take a medical leave from work due to severe back and leg pain (peripheral neuropathy caused by spinal stenosis). It had worsened and I had lost control of parts of my leg and foot (commonly referred to as a foot drop). Two surgeries later the pain remained and remains to this day. Nearly all physical activity including standing and sitting come with some cost in pain either immediately or the next day. Years of efforts (physical therapy, spinal injections, medication trials, electrical stimulation, etc.) by many of the top doctors have resulted in no improvements in my pain. Some days are hell and others are not so bad as long as I limit what I do.
So, I game to escape. It helps with the pain, seriously. (See video games as pain treatment) I can play in whatever position is most comfortable for me and games transport me somewhere else. Somewhere less painful. Gaming keeps me mentally active and somewhat in touch with friends. It’s one of the few things I have that helps relieve instead of increase my pain. Since it is one of the few things that I can still do that I enjoy, I do it in abundance.
Platform Nation (P*N)
In late 2009 I stumbled upon a website called Platform Nation, or commonly abbreviated as P*N. It captured my attention because of the quality of the articles and the feeling that the writers really had their thumbs on the pulse of the gaming industry. It was not only a site for gamers but it was a community site with gamers in volunteer positions in the entire organization. I began following their news feed regularly and began listening to their “Lock & Load” podcasts.
In early 2010, P*N sent out a call for writers via their news feed. ”Just send us two writing samples” the announcement said. Since it was a volunteer organization, it wouldn’t be a huge issue when I simply can’t write. Also, I would only need to post 6 articles each month. I figured an hour per article – 6 hours per month – I can probably do that. I have written for newsletters and local publication in the past but it was sporadic. I would not consider myself a writer. I am creative but words, language, grammar & spelling skills were apparently traded for math, logic and creativity. Thankfully technology can help in the areas where I find myself deficient. Having been a work-a-holic all of my life, I had to do this. I had to try. I needed something to do, something so that I at least know what day of the week it is. A deadline actually sounds wonderful. Having been a musician for much of my life, there is also an element of being published that appeals to the fame-junky still lingering deep inside me. Can I be a “writer”?
I had no samples to send so I created a couple. I had been playing Trials HD on Xbox 360 quite a lot so I put a review together. For my second sample I wanted to go for broke and be creative. This had to be fun. I imagined a game that combined the charm of the Lego games combined with Left 4 Dead, a first person zombie shooter. Here is the fictional announcement:
Lego Takes a Shot at Hardcore Gamers by Christopher L. Forbis
April 7, 2010 – Lego announced today that Tt Games will join forces with Valve to bring the Lego brand to a market it has yet to capture, hardcore gamers. Left 4 Legos: Brick-pocalypse will bring the Lego charm and humor to a first person zombie shooter.
Players will have the ability to design their own Lego characters – playing as themselves and fighting their way to each “Building Station” where they can be healed by replacing body parts that have been taken by zombies. No ammo pickups because ammo is infinite, but so are the zombies. “Constructors” will be able to reassemble other zombies that have been knocked to pieces.
Staying true to the cooperative game-play model, when a player is taken down, they cannot be revived. Instead, other players must haul the pieces to the next Building Station and reassemble them.
“We believe there is a gap in the market for family-shooter games. We intend to fill it by delivering the action of M rated FPS games in an E rated product” said a spokesman for Lego. Brick-pocalypse is currently slated for a 2011 Holiday Season release. [o]
I never did find out what the folks at P*N thought of “Brick-pocolyps”, but they did ask me to write for them, and I continue to do so.
So that’s what I do to stay sane. I game and I write about it when I can. Just enough commitment and pressure to keep me motivated and keep me looking forward.