Games become part of college culture

Camille Anglo

From battling it out in competitive trading card games, to students extremely focused in PC or console games, many Sacramento State students can be seen spending their spare time gaming either at school or card shops.

Gaming clubs such as CSUS LoL (League of Legends) and eSports CSUS specialize in friendly competition and shared interest through PC and console gaming, while giving gamers an opportunity to network with other students who play a common game.

Computer science senior and eSports CSUS President Chris Agur, 24, said the organization focuses on PC gaming and eSports (electronic sports), but is welcoming to anyone no matter what game or gaming platform they play on.

“There’s several people who will like every genre, and every gaming platform so even if the core focus of the club doesn’t match with somebody they’ll find that the people they meet will make it worth it,” Agur said.

Agur, a former competitive player for the first-person shooter game “Counter Strike,” said games such as “Skyrim” and “The Last of Us” can take time to master, but provides players a competitive outlet from the stresses from everyday life – much like normal sports.

“Despite the stress involved with practice, training and competition, even those games alleviate stress of normal things like school or a job,” Agur said. “It’s something you can win or something that’s thrilling to be a part of even if you lose, whereas something like school you absolutely have to succeed and it’s not very exciting whether you pass or fail.”

Business and real estate major and eSports CSUS Vice President Allen Mortensen, 24, said finding the time to game during school and work can be difficult.

“It’s hard to game during the semesters because whenever you set out to play some games it takes at least a few hours,” Mortensen said. “It’s like reading; you like to read several chapters or half a book in a single day or sitting. Gaming takes a good chunk of time, especially for club events or LAN (local area network) tournaments where it can end up being an all-day thing.”

Although there are PC and console players at Sac State, there are also students who dabble in competitive trading card games like “Magic the Gathering” and “Yu-Gi-Oh.”

History major and a former competitive player for the game “Halo,” Ahmad Bassouni, 23, said he got into playing “Magic the Gathering” and video games such as “Marvel vs. Capcom” when he could no longer play sports due to shattering his ankle when he was 18.

“Not being able to play sports, I had to find an outlet elsewhere for my competitive need,” Bassouni said. “Magic [the Gathering] and video games allowed me to get that competitive high and high level playing that I got from sports at one point that I can no longer get.”

After he began to play “Magic the Gathering” during the summer of 2012, Bassouni said it was the community that encouraged him to play and become a better player.

“The community definitely plays a vital role and makes or breaks the situation because you could have a kid who loves Magic, but no one else around him who plays it,” Bassouni said. “He’s going to continue playing those crappy cards and do everything else he thinks is good, but they’re really not. The community around you exposes your faults, but also makes you a better player at the same time and brings out the good.”

With gamers and card players becoming more open with gaming in public, the negative stereotype of the gamer has changed over time.

Bassouni said although people do not understand “Magic the Gathering” and are surprised to hear that he plays the game, the image of the gamer is not the same as the stereotypical hermit.

“They think Magic [the Gathering] players are these dorky players that don’t interact with people and have no social skills, but it’s the opposite,” Bassouni said. “Magic players need social skills and they need to interact with people. It’s a very social game.”

Agur said playing in the open at Sac State is like a statement, but although he may be negatively judged for it, he does not let it get to him.

“It doesn’t bother me in the slightest that I might get judged by some people,” Agur said. “Anyone who doesn’t like me because of what I like to do probably wasn’t going to be my friend anyway.”

In the end, all that matters with gaming, whether it be on a PC, console or through trading card games, is the company a player keeps, Bassouni said.

“It’s more than a game,” Bassouni said. “It’s spending time with your best friends and people you care about. It’s sitting down at the kitchen table with a couple of beers, the T.V. is on in the background and your best friends all around you. There’s something uplifting about it. It’s wonderful.”

Camille Anglo can be reached at [email protected]