With all the videogame-related T-shirts, car stickers, and overheard discussions, it’s easy to see that video games are a part of many students’—and some instructors’— lives here at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC). In the spring semester of 2015, this gamer culture was formally recognized with the creation of the EMCC Games Club. In the time since its inception, the club has already put together game tournaments for charity and holds regular weekly meetings. The Lion’s Perspective sat down with Jeremy Rodgers, the president of the EMCC Games Club, to talk about the club and about being a gamer in college.
The Lion’s Perspective: What is the Games Club?
Jeremy Rodgers: The EMCC Games Club, meets every week and we like to play video games, board games, and card games. Really we’re just trying to have a sense of community in this school for gaming because we’ve already got a lot of gamers that go to the Student Union and to different events around here. There was really no organization when I came to this school because the previous Games Club was gone. There was one originally, but I guess it dissolved and everyone graduated.
TLP: How long has the current iteration of the Games Club been around for?
JR: Since the beginning of this semester [Spring 2015].
TLP: You mentioned you also do tabletop and card games, what is the most popular in your group right now?
JR: For just card games and deck-building games, a lot of our members play Magic: The Gathering. For other games that aren’t deck-building, sometimes someone will bring a random game. Everyone likes Cards Against Humanity. Whatever game people happen to bring— it’s fun to have variety.
TLP: Do you always meet in the Student Union?
JR: Yes. We meet in the Student Union once a week.
TLP: The Student Union has video games set up in there to play, right?
JR: You can rent out a console from the Student Union and they have TVs set up, so it’s easy to just set up consoles that they have. A lot of the time we’ll bring our own consoles because they don’t have the current generation consoles. We play a lot of games from earlier consoles though, so we get to use their Wii sometimes.
TLP: Are you all pretty experienced gamers or do you have a variety?
JR: It’s sort of a mixed bag, we’ve got some experienced players, and we’ve got some new players. A lot of players that are experienced in one kind of game aren’t experienced in another, but we’ll all try each other’s games out. It’s really dependent on what we happen to be playing.
TLP: In March the club held a Super Smash Bros. tournament with proceeds going to charity. How did this come about?
JR: We really needed a way to get some money up and we wanted to do an event and decided that a video game tournament would be the easiest. Super Smash Bros. was the way to go because so many people are familiar with it and would like to do it, and pretty much everyone already had the stuff for it, so it was just a matter of getting a room reserved and getting stuff set up so we were able to collect the money.
TLP: Who won?
JR: Oh my gosh, I forgot his name. Not a club member actually. It was two guys, they play Melee a lot, and they just showed up and wrecked everyone. But everybody had a good time because you know, everybody’s good at Smash Bros., and it was for a good cause so a lot of people played and had fun.
TLP: You have any future events currently planned?
JR: We’re planning on doing another tournament next semester. We don’t know when it’s going to be or what we’re going to be playing. Might be another Smash Bros. tournament, but for right now we’re just doing regular meetings and figuring out what we’re going to do next semester.
TLP: Who do you recommend should join the club?
JR: Really anybody that is interested in games. Our club has a lot of really eccentric people in it, but we also have people that are quiet, so really anyone can fit in as long as they’re willing to experience new things and try different games.
TLP: For the people not familiar with gaming, what’s the appeal?
JR: Gaming is very accessible—you can play it on different consoles, you can play it on your personal computer if you have one, tablets, smartphones. Gaming is great for people who are short on time because a lot of other games or sports can take a lot of time, but video games can take anywhere from eight hours a day to five minutes a day, depending on the game you play. So that’s the appeal to regular people. It takes your mind off things; it’s entertainment.
TLP: Have you noticed a large gamer culture at Estrella Mountain?
JR: I have seen a lot of gamer culture at Estrella. A lot of people wearing t-shirts, going to events. I feel like it’s popular here a lot especially because this is a community college and a lot of people just came out of high school.
TLP: I’ve personally noticed you can StreetPass a lot of people here on the Nintendo 3DS. Like when you leave your 3DS on, you download the Mii [avatar] from everyone else who has it on.
JR: I don’t have a 3DS myself but I’ve noticed that people do that. I remember once this guy was on the DS and he looked around and yelled, “John!”, and some dude on the other side of the campus perked up, and he was like “You wanna battle?” They didn’t know each other but they had seen each other on the network.
TLP: How are gaming and gamer cultures unique from other forms of entertainment?
JR: Gaming is interactive. That’s part of it. Gaming has so many different facets of culture. Every genre has its own different subset of people. Video games can attract anyone. We’ve got simulation games, we have games you can play on the fly. It’s very accessible. You can sink a lot of time into games; you can get really invested in them. With a lot of games you can pay what you want. I feel like gaming can get really tight-knit because you’re able to just spend time with a lot of people, sometimes really personally, doing things together.
TLP: Have you ever seen the dark side of gaming, as far as people getting “addicted” to certain games, falling behind in schoolwork, or blowing money on games?
JR: It’s easy to get too caught up in games, spend too much money, and spend too much time. I feel like that applies to a lot of things though. You really need to have control over yourself with everything in life, including video games. It’s just another part of being a person.
TLP: How do you balance gaming with the increased workload and responsibilities of college?
JR: Like I said, the good thing about video games is that you can take as long as you want to play, so I play first person shooters which can take a long time, but then I have other games I can play that take less time, so I can balance what I’m playing based on my schedule. Like over the summer I can play more intensive games and then during the school year I can play other games like Minecraft or something.
TLP: Do you see gaming as something people grow out of?
JR: No. It used to be, back when it used to be geared more towards children, but now gaming goes all the way up to adulthood. I mean, Grand Theft Auto V for instance, Payday 2, Battlefield 4…Gaming has kind of grown up with people. As they were kids they played games, it was sort of frowned upon back in like the 80’s and 90’s, but now I feel like it’s much more recognized and it’s a lot more respected when you play games.
TLP: Any games you want to plug?
JR: Shameless plugs? Okay, here we go: PlanetSide 2. It’s a PC game, it’s free, it’s an MMOFPS, which means it’s an open world and it has thousands of people playing at once in a first-person environment. When you join you choose a team and you stay with it for the rest of your game. It’s an interesting game.
TLP: If someone wants to join the Games Club, how should they go about that?
JR: Go to the Student Union and ask about it. Most of the people there know what it is. So as long as you just go over to the Student Union it’s pretty easy to find out how to join.