People scream. They throw things. They set rules. They break things. They get competitive. The name of the game? Well, Mario Kart, Halo and All-Star Baseball, to name a few. In other words, video games.
In the past several years, video games have secured their own niche in the Yale undergraduate community. Attracting novices and experts, dabblers and the obsessed, video games have become a daily activity for many students — mostly males. There are a variety of different video games, some purely violent, several purely athletic, and others just plain childish.
But no matter what the game of choice, it seems the majority of male students have added a new staple to their rooms. Next to the lined-up beer bottles, underneath the posters of naked women, and above the pile of garbage accumulating on the floor, sits the prized XBox, Nintendo 64, Playstation2, or other similar video game console.
What does a gamer’s room look like? On the north court of Berkeley College live six male sophomores: three football players, two crew guys, and one nonathlete. For the video game inclined, this room boasts the perfect set-up. They have not one TV, but two. Not one Xbox, but two. And the two screens are linked by an ethernet chord to allow for maximum competition. It’s beyond two on two — they’re set for three on three.
And when they play, as a fellow Berkeleyite explained, they certainly get into it.
“Between the code names, trash talk, and full-out brawls that go down,” Erica Bergman ’06 said, who has watched the games in progress. “Whether you like video games or not, it’s simply hysterical to watch.”
In his defense, though, Matthew Handlon ’06, a resident of this video-game playing suite, explained that he and his friends really only play during the day when there is “nothing else to do.” Yet, he did admit that it does get competitive.
“We shut the door between the two screens and start yelling,” Handlon said. “You get under the other guy’s skin, and you want to punch each other’s lights out.”
These Berkeley guys are not the only ones who end up yelling at the screen while violently pressing the “shoot” buttons on their remotes. The trend spans across all the colleges.
On the stone floors of the dimly lit rooms in Ezra Stiles College, another room of male sophomores competes with the Berkeleyites’ set up. This three-person room has a refrigerator, a microwave, a kegerator, an air conditioner, and, most importantly, three TV’s, one Playstation2, and one Nintendo 64. Gaming is a prime activity.
These guys say that they play about an hour a day, sometimes more. In theory, eight people can play at once, but in practice (the cords would get tangled, after all), most games are between four people. Like those in Berkeley, these games get incredibly intense. Expletives are commonplace. The guys sit tensely, ready to pounce.
It is important, though, to understand that these guys play for something other than money.
“It’s all about pride and honor,” said one joking Stiles sophomore, “not money.”
But playing for pride and honor puts the pressure on. And you can hear the pressure from far away.
When asked if she can hear these guys playing, Amy Hart ’06, who lives directly above them, said, “Oh, do I ever.”
My final stop was to the room of a baseball player, Alec Smith ’06. Smith inhabits a relatively modest space, with a bed, a desk, a TV and, of course, an Xbox.
Smith, who plays athletic games like NCAA Basketball and All-Star Baseball, says that the gaming comes in spurts. He and his friends will go through stages of being addicted, and then the craze will die down. Nonetheless, he says that even during those “addicted” stages, he and his friends only play for about three hours a week.
Yet like all the other games mentioned, Smith’s games get intense. There is even a permanent black mark on his wall which, he explained, was the result of a shoe being thrown during a game.
Is gaming a form of anger management? Perhaps. But, more likely, these games just serve as a fun outlet for many Yalies looking to destress and break up the monotony of their weekdays. Though the games certainly get heated and competitive, they are ultimately all in good fun.
“I like it because I’m pretty good at it,” said Handlon. “When I beat my roommates, they get pretty mad at me, and it’s just fun. I like it.”