About Chris Covell:

Who are you?

I'm just an ordinary guy, I guess, for the most part. But I enjoyed and treasure my childhood; I try not to be bitter at the world, try not to take things too seriously, try to stay young-at-heart, and try to figure out why I'm placed on this Earth. I'm 23 [this page archived from 2001] (but I feel 12!), a Canadian, straight, single (but I have a wonderful girlfriend!), and of half Ukrainian and British descent. I live in Vancouver, a really great place!

Here are a few pictures which I took with a cheap, crappy disposable camera.
This is a bad picture of me. I'm on the right; my best friend Simon is on the left.
This is a bad picture of my room. Notice the stray wires and general disorder.
This is my girlfriend. I hope she doesn't mind that she's on here.
Heh heh. This isn't actually a picture, but rather a painting that I did of a Vancouver sunset.

What do you do? (studies, job, etc...)

Currently, I'm just a lowly student at Simon Fraser University. I've studied Computing Science, English literature, and Linguistics. I currently have my TESL certification status, and someday hope to teach English abroad. I can speak French (Bonjour les francophones autour du monde!); read, write, and speak some Japanese (Yookoso! Nihongo ga ii desu!); and I could probably get by speaking Spanish if I were forced to (No soy americano! No me matar! :-)). I see myself becoming an ambassador for English, sowing the seeds of communication across cultures, like some sort of linguistic Johnny Appleseed.

Right now, I'm kind of at a crossroads. I would like to find a non-stressful job teaching English, but until then, I'm going to continue going to university to complete my Bachelor's degree.

So, if you're an English guy, what's with all the videogame stuff I see?

Oh, well that's one of my other passions. For as long as I can remember, I've been interested in videogames. I remember playing the oldies like Tempest, Joust, Pole Position, and Centipede back when they were current in the arcades (I guess this would place this memory back to 1984-85, when I was six or seven.) Slowly since then, I became interested in all things electronic; when I was a child, I used to pull apart radios and things with a screwdriver. Videogames are just a logical extension from electronics, and I would call them the most fun part, too.

Oh, ok. So you're a geek then.

No. I don't think that I am. There are fine shades to everything, but there still is a definition of a true geek. A geek is somebody who obsesses over something (be it computers, videogames, manga, or pornography) to such an extent that he alienates himself from "normal" society. A geek may live in a sub-society of other geeks, but if he can't relate to people outside of that society, there is a problem. I admit that I am shy, but I try not to let that prevent me from doing things in general society. In my English or Education classes, for example, I try my best to be active in class, and it usually winds up in my talking too much. At least it's not a bad loquacity; I manage to make people laugh and (I hope) respect me. (I have a weird, dark, playful sense of humour.)

So what do you like doing if you're not a geek?

I try to have some balance in my life. I think that's the key to happiness. I don't work too hard; I don't overindulge unless I've been denying myself something for too long. I like listening to music of many types (rock, electronic, oldies, blues, classical, even catchy ethnic songs). I like reading, usually (as it turns out) nonfiction stuff like history, language books, magazines. I don't read much fiction, simply because I am not a book nut (especially if I have to pay for the books), but whatever I'm assigned to read or given as a gift I usually love. 19th-20th Century poetry and prose, for instance. Shakespeare also amazes me. (He had a rare gift of language and humour.)

I like going out on nice days and enjoying nature, as it's quickly disappearing. Going hiking or bike-riding is a very enjoyable (and useful) activity for me. With a friend it's a good way to bond, and alone it's a good way to reflect about things. I try to think philosophically about things rather than to go with my gut reaction. On that note, I also like drawing and writing. I'm not a great artist, and I cannot draw the human form at all. Still, I'm proud of some of my artistic creations, many of which border on the abstract. I used to write profusely, creating essays and poetry; but I've slowed down quite a lot. I think maybe that's because writing was a way for me to expel my pain and sadness, and nowadays I'm doing far too many things to dwell melancholically. I'm not saying that my life is perfect right now, but at least it seems much more temperate than a year like 1996 or 1997, which seem riddled with pain, now that I look back. Where was I? Oh, yeah, so those are my hobbies.

Yeah, but there are those videogames of yours, geek.

...aaand I like computers and videogames and stuff. Our technology is really fascinating when you stop and think about it. All this technology didn't drop out of the sky or come from another planet; our fellow human beings invented and developed it. We have devised these complex things to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. Computers were built to ease us of menial or difficult tasks (like alphabetization or mathematics) so that we can do other things. But what happened was that we now use computers as a form of entertainment, ranging from games to music to movies.

I grew up playing videogames, responding to their challenges and tests of my skill. As videogames evolved, so did the ways in which I looked at them. The earliest things like Centipede aren't dear to my heart. They're fun, though. NES games really held me rapt, primarily because each game generally had an engaging storyline to go along with the exciting graphics and sound (for their time). A good example is Zelda. The graphics are pretty primitive, but defined well enough that you could use your imagination to fill in the details. You would know that it's just a blocky character attacking another blocky character, but in your mind you're the elfin Link battling the monstrous Gleeok. The key, I think, to falling in love with a game is childhood. Shigeru Miyamoto put it best when he said that a child's boundless imagination allows him to become emotionally involved and totally immersed in a game. As people grow up, their imaginations shrink as a result of their facing all the impossibilities and stark realities of the world. Thus, an adult might scoff at an element in a game that is loved by a child. But the child, being totally involved in a game (but not to the point of obsession), will grow up with pleasant memories surrounding the game. When I play a game that I used to play in my childhood, all the positive memories and associations of that time also spring forward to the forefront of my mind. I think that any activity which a child deeply enjoys will in adulthood be prized intimately. With me, it is videogames and music (especially music); just as with others it might be sports, hometowns, movies, or books. This is a form of mild escapism which unlocks the pure happiness of childhood for our enjoyment in the present.

Anyways, as I matured, I became more interested in how videogames were made. I could have started learning to program very early in life, but I think my adolescence would have been that of a complete, closeted loser. A geek's life. My teenage years were spent having fun (and playing videogames) instead, and I think everything happened in a way that I am happy about. I learned to program (in something other than BASIC) in high school, and college. For two and a half years in college and university, I was actually a computer science major.

Wow, but now you're in English? That seems like a big stretch.

Not really. They're both languages in one form or another. You could look at human languages and say that they're very much like computer languages, in that they have a set of instructions (words), and rules (syntax) about how to chain those instructions into something meaningful. Or you could look at computer languages and say that they're an extension of the way we use our human languages to command others to do what we want. Only we're commanding machines here.

I made the switch from computing as a major to English mainly because of mathematics. In short, I am not that great at math. I may use extensive arithmetic or some algebra in my programming, but I hate math. I like the creative potential of languages, not the transformative potential of mathematics. And a lot of programming is math city. I could see that it was only getting harder, so I chose the field that I was even better at than programming, and that was English (and languages in general.) I still do programming just for fun, and it is very liberating. I like the fact that I can express my creativity through an exciting program on a computer or game system. That's what I'm getting at. I know how to wrap all this together: the one thing that always amazes me is the seemingly boundless capacity of human ingenuity and creativity. It seems that this technology is the ultimate expression of that will to create. And I think this is what separates me from the geeks. Geeks worship technology or machinery as though it were a god. I look at technology and think humans gods for what they have been able to achieve.

Ahem... so that's all fine and dandy, but isn't this supposed to be a page about who you are? Couldn't this rant about technology have gone on your diary page, for example?

Yes, but this discussion is closely linked to who I am, and to who we all are, for that matter.

What a totally circular and indeterminate philosophical response!

Aha! I knew you knew who I am.

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