#281: The Squad, Part 1

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Playing Monster Hunter: World has been brought to a completely new level: I can now play with multiple friends at a time. Previously, I had played with one of my friends who recently bought a PS4 specifically to play with me, and that’s been a blast so far, but now the experience has been upgraded. I can’t say I’ve had an experience like this on an online game since my days of playing World of Warcraft in a guild. A sense of camaraderie between teammates while fighting for a unified objective, while also playing online with friends who you care for and who care for you.

When I used to raid in WoW, I don’t know how close I ever got to my teammates. I know I eventually told them my age and all that, and I know that at some point I went on voice chat with them and broke through that whole barrier. Back in the day, we used Ventrillo which was a computer application you had to pay for. Discord nowadays is so much more convenient, considering you can do whatever you want from there and for free. You can set up a server for just your friends, and you don’t need to pay for it, most importantly!

Forming a squad on Monster Hunter, though, has been a wonderful experience. I love meeting and befriending new people online, and I love perpetually closing the social gap that I have with other people. There’s satisfaction in slowly overcoming obstacles that have persisted through time, from a young age to an adult age. Having a squad means no one is out of place, everyone’s here for a reason, and everyone in the squad is welcome whenever. All you have to do is just log in to Monster Hunter: World and see if anyone else is playing, too. It makes the game so much more multiplayer based than I ever thought it would be.

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#253: The Hunter, Part 2

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This post is a continuation of my previous blog post, titled “The Hunter.” If you haven’t already read that, maybe check that one out first so this makes a bit more sense.

Pretty much everyone knew my grandfather at the lodge there, no exaggeration. I went with him to the lodge once or twice and immediately developed a reputation as “Vinny’s grandson.” I never feel too welcomed when I’m known only by my relation to someone else, in the same way that a wrestler probably feels awkward when the fans only cling to their heritage as their gimmick. I don’t want to be known only as so-and-so’s grandson or nephew or whoever; I prefer Anthony in those cases.

But that’s besides the point. I inherited my grandfather’s car from him when I turned 16, though it took a few months for me to eventually get my license. He was gracious enough to give it to me, even though he could still drive at the time.

I remember one time being asked to handle my grandfather’s ammunition. I think I was around 12 at the time. He was very polite about it, and he showed me everything I needed to know about how to load a gun, how to reload, and how to clean off your ammunition supply. Not that I ever really needed to know any of that, considering I’m not a hunter these days and I don’t much care for the hobby in practice, but still, those are sweet memories that I have with my grandfather. They won’t go away any time soon.

This post was originally going to be about Monster Hunter, but instead I decided partway through writing it that I wanted it to be about my grandfather instead. He was a good guy, and at times like these I do miss him a lot.

#252: The Hunter, Part 1

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A hunter is, according to Merriam Webster, “a person who hunts game” or “one that searches for something.” Being a hunter means having a designated objective in your sights, whether that’s the prey you are after or whatever object you are searching for. Hunting involves a lot of material and natural skill and the ability to think quickly on your feet. You have to know so much about wildlife, the outside world, the outdoors themselves. I know a decent amount about computers, but nothing at all when it comes to nature. I’m more of an absent-minded hiker. A few of my friends became boy scouts when they were young, and they could probably take me through the forest and point out the name of every little flower and beetle we pass by.

My grandfather was a hunter, and he regularly would take trips out westward with his friends for the purpose of hunting game. He’d drive his Jeep Grand Cherokee Sport from 1999 out to Oregon or Montana or wherever their hearts were set on. I wouldn’t see him for a week or more, and then he’d come back with some new stories. He had a room in his garage full of guns and ammunition and assorted game mounted on the walls that he had hunted throughout the years, from all of his various trips. He would take me into this room from time to time, show me around, and marvel at some of the heads he had displayed on the walls. I never really knew what to think of them, aside from that they were obviously impressive in the sense that it must have taken a lot of skill and gall and wherewithal to take that on by yourself. He was a trusted and notable member of his local hunting lodge in East Haven, and people there knew him by his first name.