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College Essay - PAX East L4D Witch

RainbowTunnelRainbowTunnel Registered User regular
edited June 2010 in PAX Archive
So as the title says, I just finished writing my college essay. And what is it about? My experience cosplaying as the Witch from L4D at PAX East 2010!
When I say "college essay", I don't mean I'm in college writing an essay. I mean I'm in highschool writing an essay to submit to colleges alongside my application (the GPA, SAT/ACT scores, awards, activities, ect). It's supposed to be between 550-750 words in length.

I didn't know where else to post this on the forums, so if it doesn't belong here (or on this site at all), I'm terribly sorry.

When I finished writing it I decided I definitely want you guys to help me edit. Feel free to make any sort of comments/crits you desire. Grammar and the flow of the essay is something I really want comments on, if you can't think of anything else. Just want to let you know I may or may not take your advice depending on what you say - I still want this to have my voice in it, and I do have opinions about what I think is strong and isn't - but I really want to hear what you think. I'll keep revising it and posting the revisions so it stays up to date, too.


Changes in content will be underlined. Each time I update it, the next newest change will be underlined and the previous update will return to normal. This is so you guys don't have to read and reread my essay. (:


__________________________________________________________


Zombies at Gaming Conventions


You hear a faint moaning, a whimpering almost, coming from the dark room in front of you. Aiming your shotgun and flashlight into the room, you see a weeping girl in the corner. Raven black claws extend from her fingers, each one a foot long at the very least. Tight, tattered clothing cling to dirty, decaying flesh. The glare of the flashlight hits her eyes; and she starts getting agitated. You turn off the flashlight and back away quickly, about to make a dash, but it’s too late. Screaming and snarling, she lunges at you with her wicked claws.


The Witch, an undying icon from the popular zombie videogame Left 4 Dead, strikes gamers’ hearts around the world with dread. At the Penny-Arcade Expo East, a convention for gaming and those invested, I became the very Witch they fear.


When I first arrived at four in the afternoon on that fateful Friday with three of my close friends, I looked like any other attendee. I had my surplus army medic messenger bag, which treasured my DSi named Billy, a set of crystalline Dungeons&Dragons dice, my Witch costume and makeup supplies, two blue ballpoint pens, and a roll of duct tape. When going to a convention, always remember the duct tape. My pokéwalker clipped faithfully to my side, finding its home a prime place for picking up points as a pedometer. I was always a firm believer that you could tell a lot about a person by the contents of their bag, or if they carried one at all.


Before I got to the convention, I was dead set on wearing the Witch costume. I loved showing my dedication visually as well as interactively. When I got there and realized there were far less people wearing costumes than I had anticipated, I balked. I put off wearing my costume for an hour, the options of either putting myself out there or playing it safe bouncing around my head like a game of Pong. I came to the conclusion that, in the end, I would regret not taking the chance to do something outrageous and awesome. I was going for it.


Like when a superhero transforms from his true identity into tights and a cape in a telephone booth, I transformed from my true identity into a special infected zombie in a bathroom stall. I was no longer Rachel, female gamer and actress, I was the Witch, a sobbing, screaming, brain-craving creature. I waltzed out of the women’s room with complete confidence and an itch to get back in the crowd. Take the chances, go the distance, step outside your comfort zone. Life is like the game when you try to guess the number of candies there are in a jar: if you don't try to guess, you've passed up a grand opportunity, but guess the right number, and your life is so much the sweeter.


Pretending to be a zombie in the midst of thousands of normal people was one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had. I took the risk, and was rewarded far greater than I deserved. Not only was I having a fantastic time, the other attendees were also enthusiastic about interacting with me as a mock in-game experience. They treated me as if they were playing the game, using whatever flashy objects they had to startle me, like camera flashes, cell phones, or even reflective surfaces, and brought out their invisible heavy-duty weapons to defend themselves when I launched my attack. However, they were also respectful and understood that when it came down to it, I was another human being. Similarly, I would react to them as they provoked me, thriving on the glee that spread across their faces when they realized I would respond as the Witch would, but at the same time knew when to end the simulation, be safe, and move on.

Turns out I made the right decision. From the moment I stepped out in public to the hour of my departure I was questioned, high-fived, and honored by journalists and photographers, curious random attendees, and quite a few of the thousands of Left 4 Dead fans. I was videotaped by fans and professionals alike. My performance was recorded by G4 and shown as a reoccurring feature in their review of PAX East, which was broadcast on national television. The best honor of all was when even Mike Krahulik, the co-creator of the Penny-Arcade itself, said that my being the Witch and acting the part was his favorite moment in the whole weekend of PAX East, and even put a great video one of the fans took on the front page of their extremely popular website. Best to take the moment present as a present for the moment, and seize the day.

RainbowTunnel on

Posts

  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    This is a terrible idea unless youre applying to cal poly or carnagie melon.

    mrt144 on
  • contrefaitcontrefait Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    So to start with, I am not an english major, but there are a few things that seem awkwardly worded:

    "which treasured my DSi named Billy,"
    Treasured seems like an odd word to use here. I don't think I've heard it used in this context before.

    "tell a lot about a person by the content of their bag, or if they carried one at all."
    Two things here. One, content needs to be plural since you're talking about many specific items and not one general idea. Two, I was taught that you should not use their when referring to a single person, you should use a singular pronoun like he or she, even if you're intending to stay gender neutral. You could also instead make person people and bag bags.

    "I put off wearing the costume for an hour"
    From a narrative standpoint, I think my costume would work better than the costume.

    "the options of either putting myself out there or playing the safe game set up like Pong in my head."
    I would suggest the following rewording: "the options of either putting myself out there or playing it safe bouncing around my head like a game of Pong."

    "I would regret looking back on this event having not taken the chance to do something outrageous"
    I would regret having not taken the change to do something outrageous.... Regret usually implies looking back, you don't really need to say that.

    "which was broadcasted on national television."
    Firefox tells me broadcasted is wrong, the internet tells me it isn't. I think broadcast fits better here than broadcasted. The internet does say you can use either. I'd lean towards just broadcast.

    "The best honor of all whas when"
    Typo, whas instead of was.

    Hope you can find this constructive criticism useful.

    Where are you planning on applying and under what majors?

    Now I must defend my Alma Mater. What's wrong with Cal Poly? I went there. It was a good school. We learned by doing. Also, I don't think they have an essay requirement. At least they didn't when I applied... which I just realized is now approaching 9 years ago.

    contrefait on
    PAX East 2016 Checklist
    Passes: ▬ Hotel: ▬ Flight: [color=red]☑[/color]
  • Angel177Angel177 Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I wasn't a PAX East but you got one hell of a lot of coverage for a girl in her undies with duct tape(?) nails. Great idea, Well executed.

    However, It will depend on the school and your major, if anything I would just include it in your Activites along with the BEST link address online, maybe the PA front page since y'know Gabe IS one of the 100 most influental people according to Time magazine:mrgreen:

    Also being an Arts Major myself I've done a bit of body casting and making costumes, you COULD have a EVEN better set of claws, pretty easy, just PM me if you'd like to know how.

    Angel177 on
    6103544412_a48002080a.jpg
  • MasterHeliosMasterHelios Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I think Cal Poly does indeed have an essay requirement now, I applied last year.

    As for the essay, I have some misgivings. First and foremost, it's interesting from a personal point of view, but it's also very top-heavy. By that I mean it's too much introduction and description of the event itself, which feels like it could be greatly condensed in favor of much more useful topics for an admission board to see, like an analysis of how you grew as a result of the experience, or how your decision to wear the costume parallels some aspect of your personality. It feels cut off, too, like there's no definite conclusion; that could be helped with the addition of the above elements as a closing paragraph.

    Second, unless you can tie the experience of cosplaying a Witch to some aspect of yourself that would be favorable and attractive to a college (e.g. creativity, industriousness, tenacity, courage, etc.), I'm not sure it's really the best topic to go for in an application essay. This can be easily done, and it clearly has a personal meaning, so don't feel like I'm telling you to rewrite the thing, but as it stands it feels unfinished and kind of "so what" when taken in the mind of your intended audience. Just keep that admissions board and what they're going to be looking for in mind and you'll end up with a much stronger essay.

    MasterHelios on
    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    お前はもう
    死んでいる
  • RainbowTunnelRainbowTunnel Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Contrefait: Thank you so much for the feedback. You took the time and said a lot, but I'm going to save space and not use a quote (hope you don't mind). Your critiques were extremely helpful, I took care of almost everything you suggested. I'm keeping "they" instead of "he/she" conciously, even if it was recently decreed to be grammatically incorrect. Again, you helped a lot, thank you. (:

    MasterHelios: I'll think about that in the long run as I edit and re-edit this over the summer and fall, thank you. There is an overreaching theme that describes a good quality I have, but if you're not catching it that means I'm the one doing something wrong. The quality was that I'm not afraid to take the chance to get what I want, even if it takes me out of my comfort zone. That tells me I need to emphasize that more, thank you. (:

    Angel117: The claws were made of paper mache, actually. I love paper mache. A few were chipped at Anime Boston '09, so I did repair some of them with duct tape, but they're solid through and through.


    I'm not 100% sure what my major is going to be, but I'm really thinking of psycology. I'm definitely going for a theater minor, if not a double major, so I thought this would be fitting for that angle as well. I also wrote it on this topic (after at least three drafts on other topics) because no one else can say they did this - it's out there, it's a little bit more than crazy, but it's me. It's the thrill and the buzz that you just can't get from drugs, and I live for it.

    RainbowTunnel on
  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    contrefait wrote: »
    Now I must defend my Alma Mater. What's wrong with Cal Poly? I went there. It was a good school. We learned by doing. Also, I don't think they have an essay requirement. At least they didn't when I applied... which I just realized is now approaching 9 years ago.

    Nothings wrong with Cal Poly except I'm pretty sure that it's one of only a handful of universities where the subject matter of a college entrance essay would be about Cosplay and nerding it up so hard.

    mrt144 on
  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Second, unless you can tie the experience of cosplaying a Witch to some aspect of yourself that would be favorable and attractive to a college (e.g. creativity, industriousness, tenacity, courage, etc.), I'm not sure it's really the best topic to go for in an application essay. This can be easily done, and it clearly has a personal meaning, so don't feel like I'm telling you to rewrite the thing, but as it stands it feels unfinished and kind of "so what" when taken in the mind of your intended audience. Just keep that admissions board and what they're going to be looking for in mind and you'll end up with a much stronger essay.

    This is the misgiving I have about it as well. Know your audience.

    mrt144 on
  • hugheserhugheser Registered User
    edited June 2010
    I saw you at PAX and I have to admit that it was pretty awesome. It is definitely one of the more memorable experiences for me at PAX East.* Having said that, I would be worried about having this as an essay for college entrance. I enjoyed reading it but I'm not sure it would be understood by a college entrance board. In fact, I would be hesitant to mention gaming in any way. There is a stigma and to many people reading it, you could replace the cosplay experience with a fun binge drinking experience and get the same result from them. I have known a few people on those boards and I don’t think most will understand what you are trying to say. Instead of seeing you taking a chance and being rewarded, they will see someone that will be shut up in her dorm room skipping class because the latest video game was just released. I know I could be stereotyping the people sitting on the entrance board just like I believe they would stereotype you but like I said, I have known a few. They are usually either older tenured faculty or local business owners and influential alumni. Not the type of crowd that would get it.

    *My friends and I played a ton of L4D. Several of us were walking around PAX in between panels when I stopped everyone and told them I heard a witch. They laughed at me and went on. A few hours later, it happened again and I started to question my sanity and whether or not I’d been playing too many games. My friends once again told me I was crazy and we walked down the hallway towards the expo I believe. I stopped them for the third time as I saw you kneeling down by a pillar crying. I felt both vindicated and apprehensive as a small part of me apparently still stuck in L4D didn’t want to rule out the possibility this could be real. Great costume.

    hugheser on
  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I'm not 100% sure what my major is going to be, but I'm really thinking of psycology. I'm definitely going for a theater minor, if not a double major, so I thought this would be fitting for that angle as well. I also wrote it on this topic (after at least three drafts on other topics) because no one else can say they did this - it's out there, it's a little bit more than crazy, but it's me. It's the thrill and the buzz that you just can't get from drugs, and I live for it.

    Does a university look for Cosplay as a means of personal growth?

    While the following example may be a bit extreme, would you submit furry drawings to Cornish College of the Arts as an example of your artwork?

    mrt144 on
  • skarsolskarsol Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Regardless of this being a good idea or not...

    Raven black claws extended from her fingers, each one a foot long at the very least. Tight, tattered clothing clings to dirty, decaying flesh.
    The glare of the flashlight hits her eyes; and she starts getting agitated.
    videogame Left 4 Dead, fills gamers’ hearts
    messenger bag, which protected my DSi named Billy,
    My pokéwalker clipped faithfully to my side, finding its home a prime place
    When I got there and realized there were far fewer people wearing costumes
    I transformed from my true identity into a special infected zombie in a bathroom stall.
    I waltzed out of the women’s room with complete confidence and an itch to get back in the crowd. I decided to take the chances, go the distance, step outside my comfort zone.
    curious random attendees, and the quite a few of the thousands
    The best honor of all whas when even Mike Krahulik

    skarsol on
    why are you smelling it?
  • RainbowTunnelRainbowTunnel Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    mrt144 wrote: »
    I'm not 100% sure what my major is going to be, but I'm really thinking of psycology. I'm definitely going for a theater minor, if not a double major, so I thought this would be fitting for that angle as well. I also wrote it on this topic (after at least three drafts on other topics) because no one else can say they did this - it's out there, it's a little bit more than crazy, but it's me. It's the thrill and the buzz that you just can't get from drugs, and I live for it.

    Does a university look for Cosplay as a means of personal growth?

    While the following example may be a bit extreme, would you submit furry drawings to Cornish College of the Arts as an example of your artwork?

    It's less "I cosplayed and had fun. Yay." and more "I took a risk to either make a fool out of myself in front of thousands of people or have the time of my life. Not only did I take the risk, but I succeeded." The cosplay story is a means to show that message.

    Skarsol: Thank you so much it's exactly what I needed.

    Hugheser: Although I think you're right that college admission officers may stereotype people, I think that the fact that I went to a con full of people wearing barely any clothes while screaming my head off might prove that I'm an outgoing person, and therefor wouldn't hole myself up in my room and skip class.
    That was a great story, it made me laugh. (: And thank you very much! I hope your friends believed you once you stumbled into me.

    RainbowTunnel on
  • hugheserhugheser Registered User
    edited June 2010
    Hopefully you are right. Maybe you could tie it into your plans for a theater minor? That might help admissions see things a little better. If they don't get your main meaning, they may see its relevance for someone going into theater.

    Good luck and make sure you let everyone know how it goes.

    hugheser on
  • Lynx_Lynx_ Registered User
    edited June 2010

    It's less "I cosplayed and had fun. Yay." and more "I took a risk to either make a fool out of myself in front of thousands of people or have the time of my life. Not only did I take the risk, but I succeeded." The cosplay story is a means to show that message.
    Riding on Helios's coattails: this is what should be in the essay. The fact you're explaining it to us afterwards tells me that the exposition (especially specific references to gear, etc) should be trimmed in favor of an intro and conclusion telling us how this experience is relevant to your personality and future success. They're reading a ton of these, and if they don't get your point right off the bat, they're not going to stop and look for it. Approx 550-750 words is VERY short. You don't have a lot of space, so don't use it talking about games and people that won't have any meaning to the admissions board.

    I don't remember if I actually mentioned cosplay in any applications for anything save for study abroad in Japan, but I don't think it's inherently harmful, especially not if you're applying as a theater major or to a quirky liberal arts school. HOWEVER. I wasn't at PAX East and didn't see your costume, but I think it's safe to say that it was at least somewhat racy. I'm not sure if that's something you'd really want a college admissions board to look up.

    FWIW, here's what I think: I would only use this essay on your longshots, if at all. Don't mess up your safeties in case they do get scared away by cosplay references. Just write a boring essay to get those in the bag, and save this for when you think you need to show a strong personality to put you over the line.

    Lynx_ on
  • RainbowTunnelRainbowTunnel Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Lynx_ wrote: »

    It's less "I cosplayed and had fun. Yay." and more "I took a risk to either make a fool out of myself in front of thousands of people or have the time of my life. Not only did I take the risk, but I succeeded." The cosplay story is a means to show that message.
    Riding on Helios's coattails: this is what should be in the essay. The fact you're explaining it to us afterwards tells me that the exposition (especially specific references to gear, etc) should be trimmed in favor of an intro and conclusion telling us how this experience is relevant to your personality and future success. They're reading a ton of these, and if they don't get your point right off the bat, they're not going to stop and look for it. Approx 550-750 words is VERY short. You don't have a lot of space, so don't use it talking about games and people that won't have any meaning to the admissions board.

    I don't remember if I actually mentioned cosplay in any applications for anything save for study abroad in Japan, but I don't think it's inherently harmful, especially not if you're applying as a theater major or to a quirky liberal arts school. HOWEVER. I wasn't at PAX East and didn't see your costume, but I think it's safe to say that it was at least somewhat racy. I'm not sure if that's something you'd really want a college admissions board to look up.

    FWIW, here's what I think: I would only use this essay on your longshots, if at all. Don't mess up your safeties in case they do get scared away by cosplay references. Just write a boring essay to get those in the bag, and save this for when you think you need to show a strong personality to put you over the line.


    I absolutely think that if I have to explain it afterward, than I'm not doing a good enough job on highlighting that message. I'll definitely work on that. However, I like the list of gear. It's staying. : P

    The costume is a little racy, and I have thought about that angle, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. If I wasn't prepared for colleges to look it up, I wouldn't have written about it. I was even thinking about linking them to this picture, as it's a little more professional looking: photoclick

    RainbowTunnel on
  • MasterHeliosMasterHelios Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Lynx_ wrote: »

    It's less "I cosplayed and had fun. Yay." and more "I took a risk to either make a fool out of myself in front of thousands of people or have the time of my life. Not only did I take the risk, but I succeeded." The cosplay story is a means to show that message.
    Riding on Helios's coattails: this is what should be in the essay. The fact you're explaining it to us afterwards tells me that the exposition (especially specific references to gear, etc) should be trimmed in favor of an intro and conclusion telling us how this experience is relevant to your personality and future success. They're reading a ton of these, and if they don't get your point right off the bat, they're not going to stop and look for it. Approx 550-750 words is VERY short. You don't have a lot of space, so don't use it talking about games and people that won't have any meaning to the admissions board.

    I don't remember if I actually mentioned cosplay in any applications for anything save for study abroad in Japan, but I don't think it's inherently harmful, especially not if you're applying as a theater major or to a quirky liberal arts school. HOWEVER. I wasn't at PAX East and didn't see your costume, but I think it's safe to say that it was at least somewhat racy. I'm not sure if that's something you'd really want a college admissions board to look up.

    FWIW, here's what I think: I would only use this essay on your longshots, if at all. Don't mess up your safeties in case they do get scared away by cosplay references. Just write a boring essay to get those in the bag, and save this for when you think you need to show a strong personality to put you over the line.


    I absolutely think that if I have to explain it afterward, than I'm not doing a good enough job on highlighting that message. I'll definitely work on that. However, I like the list of gear. It's staying. : P

    The costume is a little racy, and I have thought about that angle, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. If I wasn't prepared for colleges to look it up, I wouldn't have written about it. I was even thinking about linking them to this picture, as it's a little more professional looking: photoclick

    Sorry but I'm going to have to side with Lynx here, the list of gear is entirely unnecessary, it really should be the first thing to go. I'm all for keeping your voice, but trust us, it needs to be greatly abbreviated at the very least.

    MasterHelios on
    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    お前はもう
    死んでいる
  • RainbowTunnelRainbowTunnel Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Lynx_ wrote: »

    It's less "I cosplayed and had fun. Yay." and more "I took a risk to either make a fool out of myself in front of thousands of people or have the time of my life. Not only did I take the risk, but I succeeded." The cosplay story is a means to show that message.
    Riding on Helios's coattails: this is what should be in the essay. The fact you're explaining it to us afterwards tells me that the exposition (especially specific references to gear, etc) should be trimmed in favor of an intro and conclusion telling us how this experience is relevant to your personality and future success. They're reading a ton of these, and if they don't get your point right off the bat, they're not going to stop and look for it. Approx 550-750 words is VERY short. You don't have a lot of space, so don't use it talking about games and people that won't have any meaning to the admissions board.

    I don't remember if I actually mentioned cosplay in any applications for anything save for study abroad in Japan, but I don't think it's inherently harmful, especially not if you're applying as a theater major or to a quirky liberal arts school. HOWEVER. I wasn't at PAX East and didn't see your costume, but I think it's safe to say that it was at least somewhat racy. I'm not sure if that's something you'd really want a college admissions board to look up.

    FWIW, here's what I think: I would only use this essay on your longshots, if at all. Don't mess up your safeties in case they do get scared away by cosplay references. Just write a boring essay to get those in the bag, and save this for when you think you need to show a strong personality to put you over the line.


    I absolutely think that if I have to explain it afterward, than I'm not doing a good enough job on highlighting that message. I'll definitely work on that. However, I like the list of gear. It's staying. : P

    The costume is a little racy, and I have thought about that angle, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. If I wasn't prepared for colleges to look it up, I wouldn't have written about it. I was even thinking about linking them to this picture, as it's a little more professional looking: photoclick

    Sorry but I'm going to have to side with Lynx here, the list of gear is entirely unnecessary, it really should be the first thing to go. I'm all for keeping your voice, but trust us, it needs to be greatly abbreviated at the very least.

    I'll abbreviate it, but I still want it in there.

    Edit: I updated it with the abbreviated list. I also got rid of a cliche and put my own little idea in there.... what do you guys think of the jar of candies analogy?

    RainbowTunnel on
  • ArcoArco Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    My advice, for what it's worth:
    First of all, what school and program are you applying to? If it's a school with a robust Liberal Arts college, and if it's an English or Theater program, then this might be appropriate. If you're applying for, say, psychology, I don't think it's very appropriate at all.

    That being said, practically no one who reads this is going to know what L4D or a Witch are, so you're going to immediately lose them with the topic. I don't like to stereotype, but I'm guessing that college admissions people aren't big zombie fans. So right off the bat you're picking a subject that's very likely going to be difficult for your intended audience to relate to, which handicaps you regardless of how well written or meaningful the essay might be.

    A friend of mine was applying for PhD programs in philosophy a few years ago, and chose to do his admissions essay on the philosophy of humor and jokes. He did it because it was personal, but also because it was off the wall and he didn't think anyone else would. He's a professional improviser, stand up comedian, and he also has a BA and MA in philosophy. I think his GPA was 3.95.

    He was rejected from all of the 8 or 10 schools he applied for, and all the ones that disclosed why they rejected him said that it was because of his essay. It was just too non-traditional and unrelatable to them, despite being well written and philosophically meaningful. Obviously that was more exclusive and more challenging than your situation, and of course anecdotal evidence doesn't mean solid conclusions, but you should see my point.

    If you still want to write about the experience, I would definitely strip out the details, especially the narrative first paragraph. They don't need to know about the flashlights, guns, claws, tattered clothing, etc. It really doesn't relate to you, or the experience you had. You could easily devote those words to what the experience meant to you, how it illuminated something about yourself, how it challenged you to do better, or something like that.

    Also, gotta side with Lynx and Helios here. Lose the list of gear. You like it, but it's completely unnecessary and superfluous, especially in such a short piece of writing. Being a good writer is just as much about knowing what to leave out as it is knowing how to put stuff in. Moreover, knowing what not to say and why makes you a better thinker and more eloquent person.

    In fact, lose that whole paragraph. They won't be interested in knowing that you should always bring duct tape to a convention. That sentence is for us, or maybe you, but it definitely isn't for them.

    Lose the cliches and the analogy in the fifth paragraph. Express yourself in your own words and don't resort to cliche, especially in an essay like this.

    In general, the ultimate and penultimate paragraphs read more like you're bragging than anything else. You don't make the leap to talking about what the experience meant to you. Did it make you more confident? Did it teach you something about yourself? Did it make you want to pursue an acting degree? Something like that would be much more appropriate here than talking about how you made it on G4.

    That's my opinion, anyway.

    Also, some grammatical suggestions:
    The glare of the flashlight hits her eyes; and she starts getting agitated." In general, you don't want to use a semicolon and then the word "and." The semicolon is supposed to do the work that "and" would be doing without the semicolon there: "The glare of the flashlight hits her eyes; she starts getting agitated." In this particular sentence, though, a comma would be better. See below.

    "My pokéwalker clipped faithfully to my side, finding its home a prime place for picking up points as a pedometer." Change this to "was clipped," otherwise it doesn't read well at all.

    "At the Penny-Arcade Expo East, a convention for gaming and those invested..." That last part is weird. And those invested in... the games? Like, we bought stock? Just say "gaming and those who love it" or something.

    "I loved showing my dedication visually as well as interactively." This should be in present tense, not in past tense, so that it says something about you. As it stands, it awkwardly describes an opinion you had in the past and may not have anymore.

    "... I balked." I don't know if "balk" is the word you want to use here. Balk means to abruptly refuse. If you asked me to buy you a car, I'd balk at you. Here, I'd instead use "I hesitated," or maybe "I panicked" if that more clearly conveys the emotion you want it to.

    "Like when a superhero transforms from his true identity into tights and a cape in a telephone booth, I transformed from my true identity into a special infected zombie in a bathroom stall. I was no longer Rachel, female gamer and actress, I was the Witch, a sobbing, screaming, brain-craving creature. " First, you can shorten that first part to "Like a superhero in a phone booth."

    Second, here's a prime opportunity for a semicolon: "I was no longer Rachel, female gamer and actress; I was the Witch..." A semicolon is a harder stop/pause than a comma, and is intended to bridge two related but separate thoughts into one sentence.

    "Take chances, go the distance, step outside your comfort zone." If you have to keep this sentence, replace the last comma with a semicolon and add something like "I believe that you should" to the beginning. Otherwise it reads like a fragment.

    "Life is like the game when you try to guess the number of candies there are in a jar: if you don't try to guess, you've passed up a grand opportunity, but guess the right number, and your life is so much the sweeter." Put a semicolon in here.

    Arco on
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  • RainbowTunnelRainbowTunnel Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Arco wrote: »
    My advice, for what it's worth:
    First of all, what school and program are you applying to? If it's a school with a robust Liberal Arts college, and if it's an English or Theater program, then this might be appropriate. If you're applying for, say, psychology, I don't think it's very appropriate at all.

    That being said, practically no one who reads this is going to know what L4D or a Witch are, so you're going to immediately lose them with the topic. I don't like to stereotype, but I'm guessing that college admissions people aren't big zombie fans. So right off the bat you're picking a subject that's very likely going to be difficult for your intended audience to relate to, which handicaps you regardless of how well written or meaningful the essay might be.

    A friend of mine was applying for PhD programs in philosophy a few years ago, and chose to do his admissions essay on the philosophy of humor and jokes. He did it because it was personal, but also because it was off the wall and he didn't think anyone else would. He's a professional improviser, stand up comedian, and he also has a BA and MA in philosophy. I think his GPA was 3.95.

    He was rejected from all of the 8 or 10 schools he applied for, and all the ones that disclosed why they rejected him said that it was because of his essay. It was just too non-traditional and unrelatable to them, despite being well written and philosophically meaningful. Obviously that was more exclusive and more challenging than your situation, and of course anecdotal evidence doesn't mean solid conclusions, but you should see my point.

    If you still want to write about the experience, I would definitely strip out the details, especially the narrative first paragraph. They don't need to know about the flashlights, guns, claws, tattered clothing, etc. It really doesn't relate to you, or the experience you had. You could easily devote those words to what the experience meant to you, how it illuminated something about yourself, how it challenged you to do better, or something like that.

    Also, gotta side with Lynx and Helios here. Lose the list of gear. You like it, but it's completely unnecessary and superfluous, especially in such a short piece of writing. Being a good writer is just as much about knowing what to leave out as it is knowing how to put stuff in. Moreover, knowing what not to say and why makes you a better thinker and more eloquent person.

    In fact, lose that whole paragraph. They won't be interested in knowing that you should always bring duct tape to a convention. That sentence is for us, or maybe you, but it definitely isn't for them.

    Lose the cliches and the analogy in the fifth paragraph. Express yourself in your own words and don't resort to cliche, especially in an essay like this.

    In general, the ultimate and penultimate paragraphs read more like you're bragging than anything else. You don't make the leap to talking about what the experience meant to you. Did it make you more confident? Did it teach you something about yourself? Did it make you want to pursue an acting degree? Something like that would be much more appropriate here than talking about how you made it on G4.

    That's my opinion, anyway.

    Also, some grammatical suggestions:
    The glare of the flashlight hits her eyes; and she starts getting agitated." In general, you don't want to use a semicolon and then the word "and." The semicolon is supposed to do the work that "and" would be doing without the semicolon there: "The glare of the flashlight hits her eyes; she starts getting agitated." In this particular sentence, though, a comma would be better. See below.

    "My pokéwalker clipped faithfully to my side, finding its home a prime place for picking up points as a pedometer." Change this to "was clipped," otherwise it doesn't read well at all.

    "At the Penny-Arcade Expo East, a convention for gaming and those invested..." That last part is weird. And those invested in... the games? Like, we bought stock? Just say "gaming and those who love it" or something.

    "I loved showing my dedication visually as well as interactively." This should be in present tense, not in past tense, so that it says something about you. As it stands, it awkwardly describes an opinion you had in the past and may not have anymore.

    "... I balked." I don't know if "balk" is the word you want to use here. Balk means to abruptly refuse. If you asked me to buy you a car, I'd balk at you. Here, I'd instead use "I hesitated," or maybe "I panicked" if that more clearly conveys the emotion you want it to.

    "Like when a superhero transforms from his true identity into tights and a cape in a telephone booth, I transformed from my true identity into a special infected zombie in a bathroom stall. I was no longer Rachel, female gamer and actress, I was the Witch, a sobbing, screaming, brain-craving creature. " First, you can shorten that first part to "Like a superhero in a phone booth."

    Second, here's a prime opportunity for a semicolon: "I was no longer Rachel, female gamer and actress; I was the Witch..." A semicolon is a harder stop/pause than a comma, and is intended to bridge two related but separate thoughts into one sentence.

    "Take chances, go the distance, step outside your comfort zone." If you have to keep this sentence, replace the last comma with a semicolon and add something like "I believe that you should" to the beginning. Otherwise it reads like a fragment.

    "Life is like the game when you try to guess the number of candies there are in a jar: if you don't try to guess, you've passed up a grand opportunity, but guess the right number, and your life is so much the sweeter." Put a semicolon in here.



    I'll be revising with all that in mind, and certainly change all of the grammar issues. The cliches are getting cut, and the filler in the beggining is probably on the out side fo the sicsors as well. I'm going to make a more major edit that focuses more on what I learned from the experience and got out of it instead the experience itself, so the inside information will probably dissapear as well. Thanks for taking the time and so thoroughly suggesting edits, I really appreciate it.

    Just a question about your friend, though. When did he apply? Months ago, years ago?

    RainbowTunnel on
  • mspencermspencer Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Far be it from a Computer Science grad student to give writing advice -- my last English class ever was called Technical Writing -- but from what I've read of the process: you start with too much and THEN you edit and trim. I feel like you don't have enough yet. The above advice sounds good.

    The thing that you did should, in my mind, be only part of the narrative. Hook: you dressed up as a video game character and awesomeness occurred. Why? Body: This is PAX. This is what you don't know about gamers, and why PAX is special. This is cosplay. Here's a narrative about your experience. Here's what you discovered about the culture and about yourself. Conclude with the aftermath: blah blah time 100 blah G4 blah blah youtube video blah blah personality, ambition, drive, please let me enroll.

    Then you will have a good rough draft, which certainly will contain unnecessary flourishes, strange word choices, and unnecessary facts that must be trimmed. That's normal and expected. Definitely enlist our help again and we will help you edit and trim. When everyone's done you will probably end up with a tight, dense, interesting essay that's about half the length of your rough draft.

    I think I may have just resaid what others have already stated.

    Also be prepared for the possibility that your essay will be flagged by anti-plagiarism search engines, if any significant portions of the source text are ever indexed by search engines. Essay readers may find themselves linked back to this thread.

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  • MetaverseNomadMetaverseNomad Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I agree with everyone who says this is, in its current form, the wrong kind of content for a college entrance essay. Not to discourage you, but the majority of academia--especially in the administrative/admissions areas--will likely be completely alienated by this. Like Lynx said, if you want to use it, you should really talk more about your desire to be a theatre major, and what the experience taught you about performance and taking risks.

    I know you like the paragraph about your inventory, but as you say "you could tell a lot about a person by the contents of their bag, or if they carried one at all", and if the admissions board has *no* idea what a pokewalker or a DSi is, or what D&D dice are for, then this paragraph and that sentence in particular is going to confuse them at the very least. If it is incomprehensible to them at all, that's bad. Also in that paragraph, you use "treasured" in a way that it's not meant to be used, and it sounds awkward. You could say something like "the bag that carried my treasured x, y, z items..." but you can't use "treasured" as a synonym for "to hold".

    Also, paragraph 5: "Like when" is a terrible way to start a sentence, try to avoid using "like" entirely, but definitely come up with a different way to introduce a comparative situation or simile.

    I'm not sure what the candy metaphor replaced, but even the candy thing is pretty cliche.. And the metaphor doesn't really make thematic sense with the rest of your essay. The last sentence about presents/present could be revised too.

    Overall, it looks good, but think of the entire piece in terms of someone who has never heard of video games or L4D, or Mike or G4TV. If they don't know what you're talking about, chances are they're not going to do any work for you to try and figure it out, and you will have lost the attention of your audience. Not to mention if they're one of those people who hates gamers. If this was an essay for a drama school application, that's one thing, but for college, you'll really need to focus on a theme, whether it's courage, theatrics, culture, whatever fits the mission or interest of the school you're applying to, and why they should be interested in you. As many people have already said, you have to know your audience, and unless you're applying to PAX-U, you can't be sure the admissions team will have any idea what you're talking about (in fact, I can tell you that it's more likely than not that admissions people are NOT gamers). Right now your essay says "I'm a gamer that dressed up like a psychotic witch. It was difficult, but worth it, and I was on TV." It's unique, but what does that say about you, or about why you want to attend this school, and why they should accept you?

    I hope that's not too harsh... good luck!

    MetaverseNomad on
  • MetaverseNomadMetaverseNomad Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Also I should say, props to you for having the courage to even consider submitting something like this! I would never have dared use any of the following words in a college essay: zombie, duct tape, shotgun, pokewalker or brain-craving. Hahaha!

    MetaverseNomad on
  • LTAcostaLTAcosta Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I honestly dont think the subject of college admission essays really matters as long as you execute it well... The essay I wrote for the school I ended up going to (Northeastern University) was about how ghetto and crappy the city was that my high school was in. As long as you can do an analysis and provide insight to your personality, I think it's fine.

    LTAcosta on
  • MasterHeliosMasterHelios Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    unless you're applying to PAX-U

    I wish there was a PAX-U. You could get a major in Powerleveling, or maybe Swag Maximization.

    MasterHelios on
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  • tehnakkitehnakki Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I think you've gotten some great English help, and there's not point in me repeating it, but I just wanted to point out something about college admission boards.

    At MIT, the admissions board is mostly a bunch of really hip 30somethings along with a couple of undergrad students. Our board specifically looks for unique and interesting personalities, and a small portion of the spots in the freshman class are reserved for "kooky" individuals who may not have the grades necessary to get into MIT but personify the MIT "engineering spirit."

    My admittance essay, when read, moved me from the "not accepted" to the "early entrance" pile. Why? Because I took the time to find out what MIT wanted in an essay. I knew when applying that I'd have to hit an 11 on their kooky-radar. And because I am obsessive I spent hours reading the blogs of the admission board so I had a pretty good idea of what they found funny and what they found just plain weird.

    I think you need to look into the different schools you're a applying. Find the freshman year blogs, ask them what kind of essays they wrote, and really think about what's the kind of essay that will catch the admissions board attention (without potentially alienating them).

    I think it's a really interesting idea to use your cosplay experience as your essay topic, but you have to think more about who will be reading this instead of just "i like what this says about me."


    unless you're applying to PAX-U

    I wish there was a PAX-U. You could get a major in Powerleveling, or maybe Swag Maximization.

    There would definitely be the mandatory freshman "Don't be a dick!" seminar!

    tehnakki on
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  • papaprinnypapaprinny Registered User
    edited June 2010
    Sorry RT, but I'm going with post #2. This is an awful idea. Pretend that you are applying for a job in the real world in a glass tower in downtown New York. You must be as professional as humanly possible. Start with this google search and go from there. Research this extensively and apply every trick available from competent sources on the web. A successful applicant is a professional one. Cliche, yes, but it's a cliche for a reason.

    papaprinny on
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  • SlickShughesSlickShughes Registered User
    edited June 2010
    papaprinny wrote: »
    Sorry RT, but I'm going with post #2. This is an awful idea. Pretend that you are applying for a job in the real world in a glass tower in downtown New York. You must be as professional as humanly possible. Start with this google search and go from there. Research this extensively and apply every trick available from competent sources on the web. A successful applicant is a professional one. Cliche, yes, but it's a cliche for a reason.

    Eh, it depends on the school really. Small, liberal arts schools would be all over a thing like this.

    SlickShughes on
    Houn wrote: »
    This is Penny Motherfuckin' Arcade. It's a better class of forum, and you know it.
This discussion has been closed.