Tips For Being a Good College Geek Neighbor (a passive rant)
1. Recognize your surrounding neighbors.
Are they college kids? Is it a family neighborhood? Do they have an Elder God door knocker? Are they cooking up meth in the adjoining garage? These are all important pieces of information to take into consideration after moving into a new place, especially when deciding decor, gaming equipment placement, and bedroom choices. Not to mention making a mental map of what route emergency vehicles would have to take in case of an emergency, fire or otherwise… Who is living near/next to/below/above you is a very key piece of intel when setting up your lair. A variety of factors can influence how you set up your apartment, especially when the focus is for console gaming, computer gaming, LAN hosting, tabletop games, LARPing, etc. Know your neighbors as you would know the dragon boss in your next dungeon.
2. Pick optimal furniture positioning.
Things to keep in mind with this one really depends on two things A) if you share a wall with a neighbor, and B) if you live above someone.
A) Sharing a wall. Make sure you do not place the following on said shared wall: bed (in the event of having someone over to share said bed), sub-woofer or speaker apparatus (in the event of having angry neighbor over with a baseball bat), alarm clock (see previous parentheses), and just use common sense.
B) Living above another apartment. This is where Tip 1 comes into play. Who are your neighbors? Are they other college kids? Great! That means that the common room will be utilized least and the bedrooms will be primarily hang-out zones. That also means that they will be on a similar sleep schedule as you and room setup is not quite as important. Feel free to adjust decor as you please and skip on to the next tip. Are they a family? If yes, the family will primarily utilize the common room until bedtime, after which they will retire to their rooms. To sleep. Not to hang out. To get rest before work. Not to play Skyrim. Keep these and other practical thoughts in mind when setting up gaming stations, sub-woofers, and musical instruments. You can also use what you’ve learned about your downstairs neighbors to figure out where to put your Mario beer pong table.
C) Windows. No, not the operating system. I know I didn’t mention “C” a moment ago, but it slipped my mind. As a geek, you should be able to take a glance outside (yes, it exists!) your window and get an idea of what the acoustics are like. Does it open up to a tree or other object that may muffle soundwaves? Is it filled with concrete or anything that sound can bounce off of and potentially into another close by window? Or do the walls stick out on either side of the window so that StarCraft sound waves bounce down and into your downstairs neighbor’s bedroom window while they’re sleeping before an early day at work? If you can’t hear the venom in my writing, I’ve been a victim of the last scenario on more than one occasion… Regardless, position your computer or gaming console so you do not have to yell at your roommates (aka yell out the window) at all hours of the night, nor do you have your speakers blaring the techno music that you’re streaming during a raid filter down into slumbering neighbors bedrooms.
Just because you don’t have class until noon does not mean that your neighbors aren’t getting up at 6:00am for a full time job, to take their kids to daycare, or to make a sacrifice to Nyarlathotep. If you aren’t careful, you might just find yourself on the latter neighbor’s sacrificial altar. Do you like to play your Xbox or PS3 until the wee hours? Great! Do it in the common room and not above someone’s bed. Do you like to lead raids on a server with a different time zone and consequently are up pwning bosses until the sun peeks over the hills? Awesome! Buy some goddamn headphones. Are your neighbors gaming or otherwise geeking out the whole night too? Sweet! Get their gaming handles (not to be confused with love handles), usernames, server info, etc., and invite them to join in your shenanigans!
Again, I think the theme here seems to be common sense, but unfortunately there are more and more geeks out there every day giving the rest of us bad names. It’s a necessary reminder.
“SHHHHHH! My common sense is tingling…” -Deadpool
4. Clean house when going home for holidays.
No, I don’t mean actually clean, though that would probably make your return trip better in the long run. What I do mean is that you should make sure you don’t leave lights, music, or TV on. More importantly… DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ALARMS ON WHEN YOU GO OUT OF TOWN. Most alarms go off when they’re originally set, beep (or whatever) for a full minute, and then auto-snooze for 5 minutes. Rinse and repeat for a half an hour. Sure it doesn’t affect you while you’re not home, but say you leave you alarm on the floor and all of the sudden it acts as an amplifier for your downstairs roommates. Suddenly they’re listening to your alarm from 5:30am-6:00am at five minute intervals. They will not be happy. Additionally they know where you live, have seen where you sleep, and your parents will cry when they see what they’ve done to you.
5. Warn your ear-shot neighbors about any gatherings.
Again. Common sense. But say that the next WoW expansion is coming out at midnight and you have to have a LAN party with your roomies and local buddies in your guild to bring in the new game content. Let’s also say that said expansion is coming out on a Tuesday (hey, it is Blizzard after all, it’s happened before!) and you have to get as much leveling and questing done as possible. Talk to all of your neighbors that will be impacted. They have a right to make alternative plans in the event of a mountain-dew fueled, all-night geekfest with so much hardware hooked up to the circuit breaker that it threatens to short out their alarm clocks for work when the inevitable happens and a Monster is spilled on the surge protector, flipping the breaker. They also have a right to set up earplugs or white noise music beforehand instead of waking up to the upstairs thudding leaps of joy when you’re the first Paladin to reach level 9000 on your server. Warning your neighbors of any impending geek events (Conan Challenge, Diplomacy Games, DnD nights, etc.) also are a good segue into…
6. Talk to your neighbors.
Even if it’s just a first time greeting. Even if it’s telling them about the birthday UT2K4 LAN party that you’re planning. Even if it’s to borrow ice for margaritas. Even if it’s as an apology for being super loud the night before or for leaving your 5:30 alarm on for the days you were home for vacation. They will appreciate it. Semi-regular contact when you’re on a college gaming schedule will also prevent close-proximity neighbors from building up what I’ve termed “stress-pressure” from sleepless nights due to listening to your Zero Hour pwnage and techno mixes and then exploding one night and calling the cops (or worse, the landlord) for a noise complaint. Learn from the wisdom of Deadpool and use your common sense superpower in these scenarios. Do you want your loud gaming and musical inclinations to resonate through paper-thin floors and wake up downstairs inhabitants to a murderous rage? Especially if they’re resting up so they can be awake for the sunrise sacrifice to the Old Ones? You don’t want to interfere with that shit.
Who knows? Maybe they’re gamers themselves. Maybe they’re geek girls or boys with insight to games you’ve never played before and years of nerdy experience under their belt(s). Maybe you’d rather to have a civil conversation with them as opposed to having them knock on your door after midnight to kindly ask you to STFU while they’re in their nighties. I realize that that does not sound like a counter argument to being loud above gamer girls, but when this gameboy (not the handheld) fantasy becomes reality, it is much less enticing.
When you have to peer through the peephole, see a girl in a nightie with a 40k tattoo, and say to your roomie:
“Who is it?”
“I dunno, but she looks scary”
It usually means that you’ve pissed off the geek girl that has to get up for the 9-5 job and ruined your fanboy dreams.
I think the main thing to take away from all of this is: Common Sense. With a Captial C-S. Before you go gamer-crazy at having your own apartment, away from your parent(s), take a step back and say “okay, how can I utilize my surroundings to make the best and most efficient college experience?” As long as you don’t make your neighbors call the landlord, knock on your door at odd hours of the night, or piss off potential like-minded geek girls/boys, you’ve typically succeeded. Go through these 6 tips and see what sort of results you get. I guarantee that it will be much, much better than being loud and rowdy for years only to find that your passive neighbors have been silently stewing the whole time, ready to scream like a teapot.
Lauren, geek girl who likes to enjoy a full night’s sleep before her day job
“SHHHHHH! My common sense is tingling…”