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Wednesday, September 3 12:01 EST

Geek Overcomes Social Anxiety
By Turning Life into RPG

By Ross P. Davis

Gainesville, FL - Area geek Ross Davis has learned to overcome his long-standing social anxiety by turning his life into a Role-Playing Game (RPG).

RPG systems such as D&D and GURPS have been part of the geek culture for decades, but they have traditionally served to further cement their participants into Loserdom. With the advent of computerized RPGs such as Neverwinter Nights and the Final Fantasy series, geeks have been able to further socially isolate themselves. Davis claims that his revolutionary application of RPGs can increase a geek's social skill by several levels and result in the accomplishment of new social feats.

"I've been playing RPGs for a long time," said Davis. "From Bard's Tale to Chrono Cross, I've been leveling up while everyone else is out living it up. I decided it was time to get out of my apartment and join the party... wait, hold on a sec." Davis then lapsed into silence as his full attention became focused on Lost Kingdoms II.

"Hooooo buddy - I think this bad boy is gonna cough up a Runestone!" Davis blurted out several minutes later.

After being bribed with an old P233 Gateway system, the 26-year-old Systems Programmer was convinced to leave his apartment in order to demonstrate his RPG-As-Real-Life system.

"Okay," Davis explained, "the goal here is to gain experience so you can level up - just like an RPG. For example, I haven't had a date since about the time that Skies of Arcadia: Legends came out. So my objective is to talk to girls without being paralyzed by overwhelming social anxiety."

He continued, "Every time I talk to a girl, I reward myself with some experience points. The longer the conversation, the more experience I get. Instead of playing as a character in a game, I am the character and my social life is the game. In the end, I am able to transform an unknown, frightening reality into a comfortable, exciting fantasy. Remember - reality: bad, fantasy: good."

"Right now my focus is on one of my stats that I call CER - my Chick Exposure Rate. See, as my CER increases, my probability of performing a critical hit (getting a date) dramatically increases. It's just a matter of simple statisti-" Davis then broke off, his eyes following an attractive University of Florida co-ed on rollerblades.

"Yow! Now that's a perfect level ten," Davis said appreciatively.

Davis explained that talking to the "level ten" girl was out of the question due to his lack of experience. "When you first start an RPG, you don't immediately strap on your leather armor and charge headlong at a Lich King. You've got to work your way up to it. And so it is with women."

Davis then made his way to a nearby bus stop where an aged homeless woman wearing Hefty bags on her feet was slouched against a fire hydrant.

"Now THIS is more like it!" Davis exclaimed enthusiastically.

He proceeded to have an animated discussion with the transient. After several minutes of conversation, Davis presented her with $1.58 in loose change and reported on his progress.

"I'd say I only get 5 EXP for that encounter," Davis said with some disappointment. "She was a very low-level creature. Still, every little bit contributes to that next level." He then logged the five experience points into his PDA.

Psychologist Greta Amberbock gave cautious approval when told of Davis's RPG approach to socializing.

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"It is often very helpful to have a reward system when dealing with social anxiety and other disorders," Amberbock said. "Of course, one must be sure that the reward itself is healthy. For a person who spends much of his time immersed in a video game world, it is perhaps not so healthy to have a video game related reward. Still, it appears that he has made progress and will continue to do so."

Added Amberbock, "At least until [Final Fantasy] Crystal Chronicles comes out."

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