Houston, Seattle, or Illinois?

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Hanging in there. Better than the alternative.
jeffh said:
Rice is an awesome school but I can't say I'm wild about the gaming scene - from that point of view I would have guessed that Seattle would be by far your best choice. There's a small annual gaming con on campus, which is fun but nothing special as such things go, and you would be close to a decent gaming store though their product knowledge on the roleplaying end of things leaves something to be desired.

As a philosophy grad student, all I can say about our compsci department is that I know our main logic guy has a lot of respect for some of the profs (and teaches some courses, e.g. on Godel's theorem and its implications, that compsci students might be interested in).

The best things about Houston are that you have no seriously cold winter weather, and that there are lots of big, cheap, reasonably nice apartments convenient to the Rice campus (e.g. in the Medical Center area). (The Rice campus itself is gorgeous and must get an honourable mention there.) The worst things about Houston are the ridiculously hot, humid summer weather and the extreme difficulty of getting around without a car. Except right around Rice itself, people simply don't walk in this town - sidewalks are an afterthought and tend to end for no reason or have inexplicable gaping holes.
I was hoping you'd weigh in, as I remembered you had a similar situation. ;) I noticed you didn't volunteer for OwlCon to get your free t-shirt and admission.

What are your experiences with FastWarp, the gaming club on campus?


First Post
For Houston, Rice probably has a better gaming scene than the other local colleges, and is the location of Houston's largest gaming con - Owlcon (as previously mentioned, though AggieCon at Texas A&M isn't that far away for a second choice). Weather is generally warm to outright 90+ degrees with 80-100% humidity, definitely not a dry heat. Even winter generally averages in the mid-50's. And as jeffh stated, a car is a must in Houston. The city is huge, and makes up enough of an area that the county it resides is larger than some east coast states. To put things in perspective on previous comments... pollution isn't that bad, unless you are on the east side of town near the ship channel and various plants in Pasadena, then it is horrendous. Mosquitos, Cockroaches, and various other insects can get bad, and yes, they tend to be bigger in Texas (Houston was built on a swamp, so what do you expect). One negative is the gaming stores... really only one major one left in Houston, Nan's. Fortunately, it is extremely close to Rice so that is a plus for consideration.

In all honesty, you are going to have gaming organizations at all three schools, and much opportunity for play no matter where you go.


Hanging in there. Better than the alternative.
Boss said:
To put things in perspective on previous comments... pollution isn't that bad, unless you are on the east side of town near the ship channel and various plants in Pasadena, then it is horrendous. Mosquitos, Cockroaches, and various other insects can get bad, and yes, they tend to be bigger in Texas (Houston was built on a swamp, so what do you expect). One negative is the gaming stores... really only one major one left in Houston, Nan's. Fortunately, it is extremely close to Rice so that is a plus for consideration.
My take:
Mosquitos and cockroaches are seasonal. You wont' see mosquitos in winter.

Houston has more than one major gaming store, but since Houston is such a sprawling city, some of them are a drive (Midnight Comics has been around for a long, long time). Close to Rice has Nan's and Third Planet, though the owners of Third Planet know less about gaming than Nan's (you can still buy whatever you need there).


First Post
Galethorn said:
Some blame the lack of decent, centrally located game stores, but I think it has more to do with the way the area is divided up more between 'cities within a city,' like Bellevue, Kirkland, Ballard, and so on, as well as the different parts of Seattle proper; to get from one part of the area to another, you have to go through the narrow passage between the lake and the harbor, which happens to be where downtown and its associated traffic is nestled. Sure, a lot of people travel through the morass to get to and from work, but a lot of people simply avoid leaving their area on their days off.

While that is true to a point, traffic is not really bad when you'd normally be heading one way or another for gaming. There is more of a dampening effect because each neighborhood likes to stay localized than any difficulty traveling, eg people in Ballard like to shop at Ballard stores, go to the Ballard FLGS, and play with other people from Ballard. However, I think the largest amount of blame goes to having too much other stuff to do. While looking for players for various games, I've had dozens of people tell me they're interested, and even about a dozen that have shown up for games. However, I've only had three or four actually show up regularly for games from week to week. Everybody else always ends up with plans to go to concerts, camping, hiking in the mountains, boating on the ocean, snowboarding, parties, etc which they give a higher priority than gaming.

There are dozens of game companies including large ones like WotC and Privateer Press, a FLGS in every neighborhood, several smaller cons, but simply not that many full time gamers.


I barely see any mosquitoes, at least compared to where I'm from (Manitoba). The ones here look like little hornets, but they're actually smaller and less itchy than Manitoba ones.

Roaches, well, personally I've only seen five in a year and a half, but one does hear stories. My own sightings are split roughly evenly between the little domestic guys and the big Texas-sized ones, which fortunately don't hang around indoors except when they need to get out of the rain, which they don't handle well. The latter are the creepiest things I've ever seen in my life, not counting one of my sister's ex-boyfriends. Keeping a clean apartment will keep the domestic ones at bay but there's nothing you can do about the big tree roaches. They can fly and swim and have epic-level Escape Artist skill (they can literally make themselves as thin as a playing card, the better to get under your front door).

Would you believe I completely missed Owlcon? I was a bit sick, but mainly it was that there was practically no buzz on campus about it and so I wasn't aware it had arrived until it was nearly over.

Boss, are you the same R. Scott Rogers who was once a kinda-sorta-regular on rgfd? As you may remember from the name (below) I used to be as well. I still lived up in Winnipeg at the time.


frankthedm said:
i'd feel safer going to school in Texas.
Actually, there've been a lot of muggings around the Rice campus recently. And, going back over the last year, more mysterious disappearances and deaths than my (Canadian, I admit) sensibilities would lead me to expect, though no-one American seems to think the rate is alarmingly out of the ordinary. It's been a wonderful, positive place for me personally, but outside the circles I spend my time in some weird stuff seems to happen.

Not that I want to alarm anyone - I guess this post kind of reads like "Come to Houston! Be the victim of a horrible crime!" and it's not meant to be like that; I merely mean to say it's not conspicuously safer than anywhere else.
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First Post
Definitely Seattle

Hi - I'm at UW Genome Sciences right now, and Seattle is ust a great place to live.

No roaches, mosquitoes, or anything of that sort.

Great weather al year round, never gets much too hot or cold.

Excellent opportunities for outdoorishness a very short way from the city.

Regarding the gaming scene here, I have to agree with the previous posters. PA is good, but there's not much of a sense of community. Having said that, it's probably because gamers are damn near saturating at the UW campus - pick ten UW students at random, and you probably have enough gamers for a group. It's not hard at al to get into a game of just about anything.

If you're looking for organized, community-cetered gaming, this might be a problem, but I've certainly never minded, since there is no lack of people to play with.


I'm a U of I alum. My father is a college professor who has been at a number of different campuses, so I've got a pretty decent sample size to compare.

U of I is very big. It's much bigger than Rice and a bit bigger than U-Dub. While it's in a significantly smaller town than those two, the campus community is actually larger. So, while Champaign-Urbana doesn't have some of the things you might see in Houston or Seattle (pro sports teams, world-class shopping, and five star restaurants, for example), it does have a number of great cultural attractions that you're just not going to see in towns of comparable sizes. There's a very prestigious film festival (run by U of I alum, Roger Ebert), a world class performing arts center that commonly attracts world class musicians, and student groups and organizations that are interested in everything under the sun.

UIUC has a VERY good reputation in CS and many big computer companies now have offices in C-U to take advantage of a local source for talent. Intel and Yahoo, as just two examples.

It's hardly isolated. Champaign is less than 2 hours from Indianapolis, less then three hours from Chicago, and less than 4 hours from St. Louis, with easy interstate travel to all three. Weekend roadtrips to big city attractions are not uncommon. Champaign has an airport and daily trains to Chicago.

C-U is a nice place to live. There are a couple "dicey" neighborhoods, but after a few years in Chicago, I can honestly say, there isn't a single street in Champaign or Urbana I'd avoid driving down. Housing is CHEAP. You might be able to buy place for cheaper than you'd rent it (and the rentals are pretty cheap, too). There are plenty of bus options to get around town, so you don't HAVE to have a car, especially if you live close to campus.

Overall, it's a great school and an easy place to live. I'd strongly suggest you not dismiss it due to the size of the surrounding community.

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