Wednesday, December 12, 2007

City Life

A California Gamer Tests Life In New York City
By Therese Whelan

“If I were alive in the Middle Ages, I’d be one bad ass knight,” says Greg Selmi,19. Everyone would scatter when we rode in. Not because we were mean but because we were so cool,” he says laughing. It’s easy to imagine Selmi as a knight. He’s tall, chivalrous and commanding, with blue eyes that always look like they are thinking about something. Far from the Middle Ages, Selmi was born in the late 1980s in Long Beach, California. A self-described “mutt” Selmi is Italian, Irish, German and Basque.

Talking before he could walk, Selmi entered kindergarten at age four in Washington D.C. where he remembers “hanging out with the son of the Irish Ambassador.” Shortly after his family moved back to California and settled in Newport Beach, a small but wealthy beach town where economic class is measured by how many rooms you have in your house. “Two bedrooms are poor, five bedroom ‘mini mansions’ are middle class, and if you live on the beach you’re basically a millionaire.” It is also the home to an MTV reality show, but Selmi cautions viewers “not to believe what you see” on the show.

Greg Selmi

The “uptight” town is home to a lot of retirees and celebrities such as Bono. “Once,” recalls Selmi, “I got a ticket for noise violation, for skateboarding.” Selmi attended an all boys’ school in Newport until deciding to go to high school in Los Angelos. “I needed to get away from the same kids I’d seen for 13 years,” explains Selmi. High school was a good experience for Selmi who found a “great group of friends,” who shared one of his biggest interests, video games.

“The first game I played was Doom 2 at age five,” says Selmi. Right away he became a fan. He was given a Gameboy by his cousin and began to play regularly. He found that he was very good at beating games quickly. “You get in a certain mind-set,” explains Selmi. “The music urges you on.” He has beaten every “action RPG game” he owns and describes himself as “super competitive when playing with friends.” Video games have influenced everything from his taste in music, “Metal bands like Metallica and Night Wish,” to his high school job as a game tester.

Since senior year of high hchool, Selmi has been testing games for top companies. “You get all the games first, get to give feedback and get paid in game cash,” says Selmi. “It’s not hard for me,” he explains. “I just look for the logical flaws.” His dream job is “to be a tester for EA games,” the top maker of video games in the U.S. “That, or designing the graphics for games.” Selmi is currently pursuing a degree in Digital Art at Santa Clara University. A school that is about 400 miles from his house, “far enough away, but I can still come home for the weekend.”

However, life at Santa Clara was a little more unpredictable than Selmi imagined. One of his hobbies was designing lighting for “raves,” large extravagant parties complete with fog machines, strobe lights and glow stick on ropes called 'Poi.' “Once I got hit by a flaming Poi,” laughs Selmi. Add to that a job as a bouncer for a fraternity and Selmi’s grades began to “to go down the toilet.” At the end of the school year Selmi found out his parents, who are professors, were going to be moving to New York to finish writing books and wanted him to go with them. Before he knew it, Selmi found himself in New York and attending Marymount Manhattan College.

Smoking Turkish cigarettes on a balcony overlooking the west side of Manhattan, Selmi says he could easily be happy living in New York. He feels he has changed a lot since moving here in September. “At first New York was so confusing,” he explains. “I still don’t understand the subways. Why can’t all the numbered lines go one way and the letters go another?” he wonders. Now he has adjusted to the New York lifestyle well. Gone is the spiked hair and board shorts, replaced by designer jeans and layers of T-shirts. His brown hair is usually covered by a cap and he was forced to purchase gloves and scarves after the temperature dropped below 40 degrees. When asked about the differences between California and New York Selmi sees many.

“People in New York care a lot more about their studies and work, probably because New York is so expensive,” he decides. “In California people are more laid back,” says Selmi. “New Yorkers walk faster, talk faster and party harder,” he says with a chuckle. However, the fall semester is almost over and Semi will be returning to Santa Clara for the spring. “I miss my friends,” he says. “And one thing you can’t get in New York is Scorpion fried rice,” says Selmi.

Along with his Marymount credits, Selmi will return to California with “a lot of good memories.” Though he can easily fit in with any crowd, he has a great internship with EA Games to look forward to and a lot of catching up to do with friends. Selmi has always been a year younger than his classmates, but has never worried much about trying to grow up too fast.

“I don’t make those advances until I’m sure I’m not going to mess things up.” Now he feels confident that he is ready to go back to California and make the most of his college experience. “This time I’m going to do it right,” says Selmi with conviction. And like most things in his life, when he is sure about something, you can be certain he has thought it through.

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