The crop of students currently enrolled in colleges across the nation is a different breed than the groups that came before. This is because they are part of a generation that was raised with computer electronics. They grew up writing essays not by hand, but by keyboard, and they did their research online rather than in books. Communication via email and cell phones was a commonplace aspect of their upbringing. Most have only ever used a digital camera; they couldn’t load a roll of film if their life depended on it, but they can send off a pix message faster than an old-school photographer can set an aperture and f-stop. In short, they have developed a modern skillset from birth that older generations are still struggling to understand. So it should come as no surprise that their entertainment is equally based in electronics. And for the average student looking to blow off some steam, there’s no better way than with a rousing round of FPS or MMO.
While many students are content to play by themselves or with a friend or two, others treat gaming as a serious business indeed. This could be why so many college campuses have started to host video game tournaments. Many charge a small entry fee to play, and then students are run through the paces, squaring off against competitors in round after round of gameplay that results in a single winner. In some cases the top players are given awards of some sort (trophies, cash, consoles, collectibles, or virtual rewards, for example), while other schools donate proceeds to charitable causes (like Bellevue College in Washington, which recently held a tournament and auction for the benefit of the school’s autism program). But for students that are only tepid about gaming, a campus-wide tournament may be a bit too much. And for those that are consummate gamers, competing at the collegiate level may simply be too easy. So how can these gaming groups compete?
For those who would like to compete but aren’t active gamers, creating smaller challenges is the key to success and a fun time for all. Such students should consider setting up a competition for all of the students on their floor or in their dorm building. With permission from the RA they can easily commandeer the media room for the day, place flyers and sign-up sheets in the hallways, and get the gaming party started. And if it takes off, students on campuses that don’t yet sponsor video game tournaments can talk to the administration about setting one up. As for those students who play at a much higher level, there are regional and national tournaments to consider, and they may be organized by specific games (like the Frogger High Score Tournament), particular causes (like the National STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – Video Game Challenge), or for no other reason than getting gamers together to compete.
So whether you see video games as an occasional diversion, you’ve been playing for a while and you’d like to test your skills against your peer group on campus, or you’re serious about gaming and you think you have the mad skills to compete on a national level, there are tournaments out there suited for you. Your time spent in college may be focused on obtaining a business degree, learning how to run a television studio, or brushing up on environmental public policy, but that doesn’t mean it should be all work and no play. Video games are a great way for modern students to switch gears and have some fun. And a little competition could heighten the experience.