One of the best things about my career as a marine biologist is that I have had the opportunity to work with brilliant scientists from all around the world. At this point in my career, I have conducted research with people from six continents and too many countries to count – a couple of dozen, at least.
I have published manuscripts and book chapters with 22 coauthors. I have a lifelong connection with each of them. A huge part of my professional career is forever tied to the work I did with them. Every time one of our manuscripts gets cited or when I update my Curriculum Vitae, I see their names and am reminded of the hard work we did together. It makes me smile. I like thinking about those connections and remembering the times we spent in the field, lab, office, or writing drafts of manuscripts. Those memories are some of my greatest joys of being a scientist.
Let’s play a video game.
Specifically, let’s play a game called XCOM 2.
XCOM 2 is a turn-based strategy game where you control a squad of four well-armed, very tough soldiers into combat against an alien invasion. It’s one of the best strategy games out there and earned high scores from basically all of the video game critics like IGN, Gamespot, Kotaku, PC Gamer, etc. It’s sitting at healthy 87% on Metacritic.
XCOM 2 is a great game in its own right, but it does something else that is very cool. It lets you customize your squad like crazy. The appearance of your soldiers and their armor and weapons can be customized to your liking. This means you can make your soldiers into any personas you want.
The other cool part of the game is that, while you take only four soldiers with you on each mission, you need a large pool of soldiers to actually play the game. This is because soldiers can be injured by those mean aliens and rendered unavailable for future missions until they recover. If you really mess up, your soldiers can even be killed, and you lose them for the rest of the game. A necessary tactic is to swap out squad members between missions. Throw in the fact that your squad members specialize as either grenadiers, sharpshooters, specialists, rangers, or psi operatives, and you really need a large pool of soldiers from which to draw to mix and match an effective team for each mission.
Here’s the bottom line.
I have created a pool of 24 soldiers in XCOM 2, a pool that includes me, each of my 22 coauthors, and my cat, Izzy (because it’s a video game, and I wanted to make a character based on my cat). I will be having adventures with my buddies once again.
Starting next week, I will start streaming our adventures in XCOM 2 a couple of night per week over on Twitch. As I steam, I will tell you a little bit about each teammate and the projects we worked on, and generally have fun goofing off and shooting aliens. Twitch also archives the videos, so you can catch up with them there if you miss me live. Or, even better, I will be pulling the videos off Twitch and putting them over on my YouTube page so you can watch them any time you want.
I am aiming to stream on Sunday and Wednesday nights at 8pm, local time in Saudi Arabia, which would be 1pm EST. I’ll run a couple of missions per night, aiming for 45 minutes. Some nights may run only 30 minutes, others may go 60. If you want to watch live and chime in in the chat, keep an eye on Twitch and Twitter for alerts.
See you soon!