Students vs. Professors

Everybody was either playing a game or watching one. The billiard tables were completely filled. Brandishing controllers and yelling at their fellow competitors, students called fouls and unfair plays on one another while playing the latest Call of Duty or sports game. A crowd of people surrounded GameCubes, teaching professors how to play Super Smash Bros. It was a party and playing video games was at the center of it.

Last Wednesday night ASUCI’s Academic Engagement, the Video Game Developers Club and the Super Smash Bros Club hosted the ICS Video Game Night; a night which brought students, ICS professors and graduate students together to socialize and play video games.

The Zot Zone was filled with over 100 students who came straight from class, ready to relax and get to gaming. Billiard tables and Xbox One consoles were scattered throughout the room.  Two small TVs and GameCubes were placed beside one another to host Super Smash Bros.

Designated areas and consoles in the recreational room hosted specific games ranging from Super Smash Bros to FIFA 15. The Xbox One consoles and flat-screen TVs remained quite empty throughout the night. Most of the attention revolved around the small TVs and GameCubes provided by the Super Smash Bros Club.

ASUCI’s Academic Engagement attendants checked in 100 students by 6:25 p.m. and were still checking in more students afterwards. Most of the attendees wandered the room until someone invited them to play. It became a rare sight for students to take a seat at a gaming console and just start playing. Students needed to be compelled to play by either an invitation by a fellow student or an empty seat and vacant controller.

“Smash is a game where it’s really not a good idea to play online. You should play it in person,” said Super Smash Bros  Club president Kellen Ho. “(Playing in person) makes you more sociable. You have more friends. It’s a great thing.”

Like most planned campus events, the Video Game Night was planned late Fall Quarter, allowing a significant amount of time to prepare. Various clubs were considered to help organize the event with ASUCI’s Academic Affairs and the most prominent video-gaming organizations on campus, such as the Video Game Developers Club (VGDC) and Super Smash Bros, were selected. VGDC allowed various students at the event to try some of its gaming projects and other developments. The Super Smash Bros Club provided GameCubes and extra TVs to accommodate those who wanted to play Super Smash Brothers since Nintendo supports the game.

“I really wanted to work with clubs that really have an interest in video games,” explained Academic Affairs Commissioner Elvis Leng. “It was really difficult to get the professors to join at first. This event was really to bring the video game community and professors together outside the classroom setting.”

The entire School of Information and Computer Science was contacted about the event. Professors and various graduate students received visits from ASUCI, inviting them to join. Due to the strict and busy schedules of professors, many were unable to attend the video game night.  However the event still managed to host several professors and graduate students, totaling 10 faculty members.  Those who arrived played video games with and against other students or simply watched and socialized.

Playing with and against the professors and graduate students did not live up to the buildup expected. It took a considerable amount of observation and peer pressure to compel the faculty to even hold a controller. When the game began, there were no repartees or friendly banter that is normally expected when playing a competitive game like Super Smash Bros. At times, the faculty simply smashed the buttons on the controller, without considering the effect of the buttons and their combinations with others, until something happened that injured or hurt the other player’s avatar.

With professors and graduate students arriving in an environment in which playing video games was the center of attention, it can become intimidating due to the growing technological complexity of video-game entertainment.

“It’s isolating, I have to be honest with you,” said third-year statistics Ph.D. student Elizabeth Ward. “Some of these popular games like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft are really complicated … I don’t want to have to sit down and try to understand everything about (games). Like, I barely understand Facebook.”

Some students agree that there is a certain perplexity to technology. However, many argue that technological complexity should not diminish social interaction between the current and older generation.

“Technology is getting more and more complex, but at the same time you have things that are catered toward people who aren’t into the complex stuff. I don’t really see this as a growing problem and the older generation shouldn’t feel isolated,” said third-year political science major Jake Campbell.

The atmosphere of social connectivity and enjoyment resonated throughout the night, even at its conclusion. Several professors and students stayed a few minutes after the event’s official closing time to reminisce about the forms of entertainment during their childhoods and college years, even speculating as to how entertainment will evolve in the years to come.