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Court reporters find connections to gaming

Gamers can be found in all walks of life, but there seems to be a special connection with court reporters.

Jennifer Honn, RPR, a freelance reporter in Phoenix, Ariz., said there is always a lesson that video games can teach you.

“Perseverance when trying to learn a new skill can be akin to moving up in levels as they increase in difficulty,” Honn said. “And beating a boss like Bowser is like finally defeating that speed test or obtaining that certification. And some games are simply plodding along and exploring and trying new things until you reach a goal and then looking back on all you’ve accomplished and simply being satisfied with your own creation.”

Honn said she really began playing video games after getting married in the late 1990s.

“Before I married my I-got-the-Gameboy-the-day-it-came-out husband, my only exposure to Nintendo was Tetris, when I borrowed my friend’s Gameboy on bus rides to football games, and then Dr. Mario on the one television on my dorm’s floor in college,” Honn said.

Except for Rock Band on the Xbox (she’s the guitar player), Honn said her family is a Nintendo family.

Thanks to 2020 lockdowns, Honn said, “Animal Crossing is definitely the game I have racked up the most time playing.” She also enjoys Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is “such a beautifully created game with endless adventures, it can be picked up and played again and again without having to stick to a storyline.” Her all-time favorite is a game from the GameCube called Donkey Konga.

 Honn said her game-playing time definitely increased in 2020, but her family also finds a few hours each week to play together.

“We’d rather play a game together than just watch TV or movies,” Honn said. “Sometimes we play the above-mentioned games, but trivia games or board games are a great family-time activity as well.”

Natalie Martin, an independent student in Houston, Texas, said she has been a gamer her whole life.

“There is a huge connection with gaming and stenography,” Martin said. “It’s all about reaction and timing. Hitting the buttons on the controller are the same as you would on the machine. I find it very helpful to play games. It’s a fun way to keep your brain engaged and your reaction time sharp while having fun.”

Martin said her current favorite game is Call of Duty.

Brian Binkney

Brian Binkney, a student at the College of Court Reporting who lives in Kingman, Ariz., said he has been a gamer since the original Nintendo came out. He sees the connection to court reporting with hand-eye-ear coordination.

“In the court reporting world you can use the example for students of: if you can play a video game and not look at your hands, then you can write on your writer without looking at your hands,” Binkney said. “It’s muscle memory.”

Binkney plays role-playing games like World of Warcraft but also stays true to his Xbox, where he is a huge fan of the Diablo series and has been playing Diablo 3.

Candice Radam is a student at Arlington Career Institute in Arlington, Texas. She’s been gaming ever since she could hold a controller.

“My mom had an Atari and an original Nintendo system, and every time there was a new system out, it was always a big deal that we pick it up,” Radam said.

Candice Radam

Radam agrees there is a connection between gaming and court reporting.

“Absolutely, especially if you’re a fan of rhythm games!” Radam said. “I was into Dance Dance Revolution, Frequency, and Guitar Hero, and there are a ton of correlations between games like that and stenography. The only difference is you’re also learning a language at the same time when you practice stenography.”

Radam said she is typically a PC gamer.

“I love ryhthm, adventure, role-playing games, multi-player online, first-person shooters, arcade, puzzle/strategy games, and I’m also a sucker for story games. I will play anything, overall,” she said.

Her top five games are BioShock, Silent Hill, Kingdom Hearts, World of Warcraft, and Katamari Damacy. Radam said there is a game about steno on Steam, a video game digital distribution service, called Steno Arcade, which perfectly sums up the relationship between stenography and gaming.

Jay Walsh is a student at the College of Marin’s Court Reporting Program and West Valley College’s Court Reporting program and lives in Cotati, Calif. He has been a gamer since the late 1980s. He said he sees a 100 percent connection between gaming and court reporting.

Jay Walsh

“The obvious connection is in hand-eye coordination and rhythm-style games, which I love but I’m not very good at,” Walsh said. “But I do find that really good video games are always making the game progressively more complex and challenging, and I feel like court reporting gives you that every single day you work at it. Not only from the ambitious speed goals, but also the constant variety of real-world, complex language you hear. The transcript editing in particular I consider to be a real puzzle/logic game, but with words.”

Walsh said he mostly plays vast, escapist role-playing games (Zelda, Final Fantasy, Elder Scrolls), but he also enjoys fun and creative builder-type games like Minecraft and also puzzle/logic games, card games, and sometimes shooters.

“I like to try games in every genre, the more wild and creative the better,” Walsh said. “I even worked in the gaming industry for a while with the people who make League of Legends, Riot Games.”

His favorites include The Witness and The Talos Principle. But if he had to pick one series, it would probably be Zelda.

Walsh’s advice for court reporters who might like to try gaming is to look beyond games that focus only on steno.

“It doesn’t have to be about speed and reflexes, Walsh said. “You can stretch your brain and your problem-solving skills with so many awesome puzzle and logic games. Expand your horizons to keep your brain active!”

Walsh said he thinks many gamers would enjoy the experience of court reporting.

“I hope there’s a way to reach out to this very big, smart, and passionate audience,” Walsh said. “I feel like they would all be at home in court reporting, but I also think the way we train, attract, challenge, and engage with that sort of community needs to be considered. Gamers will almost certainly be a big part of the next wave of court reporters. Schools and associations around the country need to have a plan to engage those folks and talk about the career in a way that really clicks with them. They’ll love it, and they will probably take the profession to new heights!”