Gaming is one of the largest social phenomenons of this generation. At Knox, students have formed pockets of gaming groups around campus, many of which go unnoticed. To many, the leader of it all is Gaming Information Network, or GIN. Seniors Maggie Darrah and Daniel Miller have taken charge of the group this year and have their own take on the importance of gaming in college. What comes to question is the spread out organization of the community and the lack of communication between leaders.
“I think the gaming culture at Knox isn’t as cohesive as it used to be,” Darrah said. “We know there are a few different gaming groups that don’t communicate well with one another. On the one hand, that’s a lot of different avenues that people can go through to find a community. If you don’t mesh well with one, you might with another, and that’s good. However, the lack of communication is not the greatest.”
To address the lack of communication, the group wants to create a wider branch of gaming genres to direct people in the right direction.
“I think the ideal system would be an email network between the various gaming leaders across campus so that everyone is aware of what there is and a sharing of resources when necessary,” continued Darrah. “Multiple groups could work together for an event. If a person came to a group and said, ‘Hey, I’m interested in this,’ and that group doesn’t have it, they could point them to the group that does.”
Miller expressed that in his closing year at Knox, he wants to make the gaming scene as open to people as possible, not only to talk about games, but to create a discussion with them in a more comfortable environment. “I want to be able to sit down somewhere and say, ‘Hi, do you wanna play video games and chat about your life?’,” said Miller. “I want to be able to talk about how things are going and provide for them a safe and welcoming space where they can interact with other people.”
Freshman Arturo Jimenez is the leader of a “Super Smash Brothers” group on campus that meets every Friday in the Taylor Lounge. He expressed similar views as Miller, explaining that to most of the people participating in these groups, it’s a way for them to branch out and express themselves in a more specified way.
“When I first came to campus, I felt like I was in the minority of students as a gamer,” said Jimenez. “However, over time as I met new people, I wasn’t alone. Games are becoming much more popular with the internet and people are sharing their interests. Gaming has become its own outlet.”
He went on to express his desire for more people to open up about their love of gaming. The world is now a much different place, and the more people that come together to enjoy it, the better for all.
“If I decided to just stay in my room and play Smash with my roommate, this group wouldn’t be what it is today,” continued Jimenez. “I think people need to play with friends or do something public. A lot of people play games to escape reality, especially with their work loads. You don’t have to play alone anymore. You can even play with the same people you go to class with. It makes every day better.”
Another large group on campus is moreso devoted to table top gaming, such as “Magic the Gathering” and “Dungeons and Dragons.” Though not the same avenue as video games in format, the feel for the community remains the same. Junior Brendan Reeves has been participating in these groups for years at Knox and sees the culture as a constant. To Reeves, the stereotypes of gaming culture that may have been true at one time have since evolved into something much different.
“When tabletop gaming and video gamers came into the spotlight, they were considered the outcast kids, but I know people now on the football team that get together and play ‘League of Legends’ or ‘Grand Theft Auto 5.’ I do think there are things that aid themselves toward the ‘smelly fat nerd’ stereotype, like ‘Magic’ and ‘YuGiOh’ or ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ but I don’t think that’s appropriate at all. I go to the gym four or five times a week, I do my homework, I’m politically involved and I’ll still come play,” said Reeves.
Hugely successful games such as “Assassin’s Creed” and “Call of Duty” are popular with college students, but more specific genres such as MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) and multiplayer tabletop games are less frequently acknowledged by the population as a whole. To Reeves, it simply comes down to what’s easier to access.
“It comes down to accessibility,” said Reeves. “Every kid growing up had some sort of console. You pay $30 used or $60 new to play the newest ‘Call of Duty’ and it’s ready to go. It’s something you did on the weekend with your friends. However, games like ‘Magic’ or ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ need a lot of time and money to remain relevant. I’ll be building a $70 ‘Magic’ deck soon and that’s one of many. To some, it might seem like a waste of time, but for those who enjoy it, it’s our choice of a waste of time. It’s college, and everybody needs something. ”
As time progresses, gaming will surely remain as a main source of entertainment at Knox. Whether the groups will remain in their current state or expand further is yet to be seen. What is sure though is that gaming will remain an activity for those who love it and will continue to open a conversation for the ones who need it.