UB’s gamers find their niche
SA’s gaming clubs become a community
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
A student threw down his controller, lunged across the couch and punched his opponent in the face.
Last fall, a virtual Super Smash Bros. fight turned into reality in 303 Student Union (SU). His rage came from losing one stock of life.
Students pulled the two apart and called the police. It wasn’t the first fight, though. Things get pretty heated within UB’s gaming community.
The gamers host tournaments and open play throughout the semester. It can get competitive, but they say it’s friendly unless otherwise advertised.
There are several gaming clubs at UB, including Pokemon, Super Smash Bros., Magic: the Gathering, Anime and Dance Dance Revolution. Though each game has its own club, they all share one office, membership and equipment. They view themselves as one community.
Joe Steet, a graduate student in chemistry, said when he isn’t working in the lab, teaching or grading, he is gaming. He said it’s a stress reliever and a way to have some fun with people who enjoy playing as much as he does.
The members say it’s a way of life. It’s just who they are – gamers by nature.
“Members support each other and are a unit for socialization and community involvement,” said Mark ‘Spike’ Okrasinski, a secondary education graduate student. “That’s what makes the club for me.”
Asked if they’re involved in other UB clubs, the gamers struggled to answer. “What else is there?” they asked.
The self-described nerds are in the office from 10 a.m. until 12 a.m. or until the SU staff kicks them out for the night. The office is filled with table, board and video games – so many that one student found a Sega Genesis on Tuesday, which several members had no idea existed.
Some funding from SA goes toward buying new equipment, but most of the games and consoles belong to the club members. They have a Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation 2, two desktop computers and other consoles.
When it comes to choosing the best game to play, no member agrees. However, they said this season’s trend is League of Legends.
The games aren’t always the biggest draw. For some, it’s the camaraderie.
The gaming community currently has 80 active members and counting, though as many as 300 people have shown up at club events.
“We’re one of the few offices that is constantly open throughout the day for people to just come in and join,” said Jeff Wakefield, a senior communication major and president of the anime club. “You walk around [the union] and you see a lot of closed doors.”
In the ’80s, the gamers developed UB Con – a three-day convention where gamers, cartoonists, authors, actors and fans celebrate their shared interests. The tradition is still celebrated amongst gamers at UB today. Last April, approximately 1,000 students and community members attended, according to the event’s website.
Lisa Lu, a sophomore English major, enjoys UB Con because it has a community feel to it. However, she said she hates comic-con because too many people go for “free swag,” goody-bags, water bottles or other party favors, rather than the festival. This April, she plans on celebrating UB Con by going as a character from Homestuck, a webcomic.
Like other SA clubs, the gamers give back to the community. On Friday, the gamers – in association with the Strategists and Role-Players Association – hosted the fourth annual Zombie Walk on North Campus to raise money for brain cancer research. Members painted themselves in fake blood and makeup to scare students by walking around the Academic Spine and the Ellicott Complex in the early evening.
The gamers who meet in 303 Student Union don’t just meet to play games anymore. Two members are now dating; many hang out with one another outside of the club’s walls.
The gamers wanted to find a place to play against those who love games as much as they do, but in the process formed their own family.