Gaming trend on campus fosters friendship

AARON VIDAL

afvidal10@ole.augie.edu

Each person has his or her own way of winding down after a busy day.

Some people sit down and watch something from their Netflix queue. Some people hit the mall. Some people shoot their friends—but not in a Cheney-esque way. Virtually.

Video games have become one of the most popular pastimes at Augustana, particularly among male students.

When walking through the dorms, it’s not uncommon to hear curses shouted toward the results of online multiplayer match of games, such as Call of Duty. One can just as frequently hear casual discourse on the merits of the Playstation 3 versus the Xbox 360, or students bragging about their latest League of Legends game.

Sitting down to a fresh multiplayer round of Halo 4, freshman Mario Montes discusses the benefits of gaming as a pastime. “It’s relaxing,” he said. “I don’t really need to think, just play.”

Since the Nintendo Entertainment System came out in 1985, video games have been played recreationally.

Now, however, they’re serving as a new way to connect people.

“It’s a great way to catch up with people from high school,” Montes said.

Video games have even lent to his rapport with his roommate, freshman Alex Matson. Passing the Xbox 360 controller to Matson, Montes discusses the latest weapon additions to the Halo franchise, and the two of them spitting out gun lingo with a casual air. They each play an hour of games a day, often taking turns and ribbing the other with sardonic remarks.

However, while many simply see gaming as a couch-based sport, Montes (an avid reader) and Matson (a self-professed film fan) recognize the legitimate emergence of video games as a creative entertainment medium.

Red Dead [Redemption, a 2010 Western adventure game] almost felt like I was playing a movie, or controlling this character’s life,” Matson said.

Montes is equally passionate when talking about the Mass Effect franchise, a trilogy of futuristic adventure games that wowed the gaming world by allowing the player’s choices to impact the unprecedented cinematic storyline.

“I know some people who loved the ending and some who hated it,” Montes said, emphasizing the impassioned responses that usually accompany traditional storytelling channels.

In the past few years, video games have become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. The entire industry is estimated to be worth $100 billion, and the popularity of video games is only growing.

This fall the release of massively popular games such as Assassin’s Creed 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Halo 4—the unexpected latest installment in the space-marine franchise that put Microsoft’s gaming department on the map—have kept gamers busy.

The Call of Duty franchise has sold over 100 million copies, and draws voice-acting and score-composition talent from Hollywood’s elite.

It seems that the entertainment industry is finally coming to terms with something that Augie students already know: Video games are here to stay.