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St. John's Clinic infectious disease physician Eric Fulnecky is known as "docneck" by his Xbox colleagues. Fulnecky is a member of a group of professionals who use their Xbox 360s for gaming and social networking.
St. John's Clinic infectious disease physician Eric Fulnecky is known as "docneck" by his Xbox colleagues. Fulnecky is a member of a group of professionals who use their Xbox 360s for gaming and social networking.

After 5: See You in Cyberspace

Posted online
In the professional world, the paths of Dr. Eric Fulnecky, detective Matt Brown and auto sales manager Tyler Thompson seldom cross.

But as “docneck,” “Balrog” and “xxtylertxx” – their respective gamer tags – the three compete together in video game cyberspace.

They are members of a group of about 45 male professionals who regularly compete online with their Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming systems. The group formed when Xbox 360 was released in September 2005.

Fulnecky and Tom Fowler Jr., a loan officer at State Bank of Southwest Missouri, remember waiting in line at Sam’s Club for a midnight release to buy their Xbox consoles. Fulnecky and Fowler formed the group shortly after that.

Thompson’s games of choice are Madden NFL, a football game, and Call of Duty, a first-person shooting game. For Fulnecky, favorite games include Call of Duty, Bad Company, a war simulation game, and Halo, a science fiction game with a new release last month. Brown prefers Call of Duty.

The games allow each player to remain competitive, a shared trait, without leaving home to play a sport or actually venturing onto a playing field. Thompson, who has played sports and video games since he was a child, says the gaming group is an outlet.

“You’re going out there to win the game,” Fulnecky says. “People take it seriously – to a point.”

Brown says his police training sometimes gives him an advantage when playing Call of Duty.

“Even though it’s a video game, I’ve found myself crouching in the corner waiting for somebody to pop out of a door just like you would in the real world,” he says.

Brown hadn’t participated with the group for about a year due to a military assignment in Afghanistan. He estimates he played 15 to 20 hours a week before his assignment and says he follows the same gaming schedule, playing late at night after his children are in bed and he’s finished his chores.

“It’s for leisure, without a doubt, but we tend to elevate that just a little more,” Brown says. “We all like to win.”

Gaming also is a social network, says Fulnecky, who helped convince fellow St. John’s physicians Dave Cozzi and Albert Leonardo to join the group. But the group doesn’t discriminate, Fowler says. Cox physician Sai Nayar, also is a gamer in the group.

“We all kind of know each other from our online playing,” Fulnecky adds. “We’ve gotten to meet some interesting folks. I met Tyler through this.”

Group members are mostly in their 30s with similar lifestyles, Fulnecky says. Most have children and families and don’t want to sacrifice time to leave home to play a sport as recreation.

Seth Wand is an exception to that description. He’s an active participant in the gaming group but takes the literal field on Sundays as an NFL player. The Oakland Raiders offensive lineman played high school football at Springfield Catholic and in college at Northwest Missouri State.

“It’s a chance to broaden your social scene, if you will,” Fulnecky says.

Fowler even finds a direct business application. “I know I have a number of clients that game here at the bank,” says Fowler, or “baldknobber,” his gamer tag. “It is a social network. As much as Facebook is, Xbox is too.”[[In-content Ad]]

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