New gaming club sets foot at Gannon
A dimly lit room, its only source of light emanating from the television’s artificial glow. A digital, though oddly lifelike miniature representation of a human darts around the screen in time to the feverish, carpal tunnel-inducing clicking produced by the controller. The controller seems like an extension of the hands of the lone person hunkered into the couch, who is aware of little else aside from the virtual action unfolding before her.
This is the portrait that many people paint when envisioning the term “gamer,” but a new club at Gannon University is prepared to take this title back to the basics.
The Gamers’ Guild aims to maintain the benefits of release and relaxation provided by leisure activities such as video games or online gaming, but also embodies the value of face-to-face interaction by offering its members the chance to try their hands at a variety of unique card games, board games and other table top games.
Senior computer engineering major Lia Koziell said this “brand spanking new” club offers its members and participants the opportunity to play a variety of challenging games while also making friends and interacting with others.
Koziell, who said this is the second club she has had a hand in getting off the ground – the first was LIFE, or Love is for Everyone – is the Guild’s vice president.
Fellow member A.J. Lino, a senior biology major, also said that these more traditional games provide benefits that virtual games lack.
“Playing video games can get repetitive,” he said, “because if you just play against the computer, they have a default skill set that you can basically figure out ways to beat.
“With online gaming, you might be playing someone from across the world, but you don’t get the person-to-person interaction.”
These interactive games include “Magic: The Gathering,” “Dungeons and Dragons,” “Kingsburg,” “Munchkin” and more, though according to Koziell, the game currently dominating the club’s agenda is “Magic: The Gathering,” a card game.
Lino said that Magic, as it is more informally known, is currently his favorite.
“It’s like the adult version of Pokemon, but it’s a lot more involved,” he said. “It’s been around for almost 20 years.”
Koziell also noted the game’s long history, and said that as a game with such longevity, it has discreetly settled into the Erie community.
“It’s intriguing,” she said. “There’s at least two different card shops that I know of, and probably more.”
According to Koziell and Lino, there are opportunities to play in tournaments known as Friday Night Magic at different venues around Erie, where participants have the chance to win prizes and meet other people who enjoy the game as well.
Though Koziell said gamers are often stereotyped as “a bunch of nerds,” Gannon’s Gamers’ Guild, and the gaming community in general, is made up of a diverse crowd.
“The thing about these games is that you don’t really realize who enjoys them,” she said. “We kind of quietly collect this amalgamation of people. There’s all the people you would expect to be there, and others you wouldn’t.”
Koziell said an example of one of these surprising gamers is Labyn Hollis, also a senior engineering major.
“I had no idea he [Hollis] played Magic,” she said. “The last time we hung out, he was barefoot in his overalls with my car on a jack, taking the wheel off.”
Though there seems to be a trend of various engineering majors comprising the group, Lino said they encourage anyone to stop by and try out some of the games.
“We’re very open,” he said. “Whether you’re a beginner or not, we welcome all ranges of expertise.”
Koziell agreed, and added that she believes the group offers an inviting atmosphere.
“Gamers are nice people,” she said. “There’s people on Xbox Live you have to worry about, but for the most part, people playing card games and pen and paper games are just friendly. We all just want to have a good time.”
The pen and paper game Koziell said the group will begin in the coming weeks is “Dungeons and Dragons,” or D&D, an interactive role-playing game that is formed by the creative efforts of the Dungeon Master and the prospective players.
The delay in starting a game of D&D, Koziell said, stems from the difficulty of finding someone to act as Dungeon Master, whose job is to present the story or situation to the players, who then create their own unique roles as players in the fictitious world.
“You have to sacrifice a lot of pride,” Koziell said. “You have to be willing to embarrass yourself. Not that you will, but it’s like, I made up all this stuff, everybody please look at it, I’m ashamed of this being silly.”
Koziell said that the challenge associated with being Dungeon Master doesn’t stop there.
“Nobody wants to be the boss,” she said. “You want to be out there doing fun things with your character.”
Lino said that in addition to allowing players to get creative, playing a strategic game like D&D can also help develop problem-solving and critical -thinking skills.
“The situation is constantly changing, so you could have a plan but then a wrench gets thrown in and you have to change your plan again,” he said.
The group currently meets at 7:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays in Waldron Campus Center’s game room, but is still searching for a space more conducive to its activities.
According to Koziell, the club has found an ideal adviser in Steve Frezza, a professor in the software engineering department, who plays some of these games with his children.
“His two little daughters taught me to play Pokemon for the first time,” Koziell said. “I learned from munchkins.”
One of the games the Guild will be playing is, in fact, called “Munchkin.” Lino said he enjoys this game because of the humor associated with most of the cards. One card in particular Lino said came to mind as comical.
“There’s one called the right to bear arms, and your character literally gets bear arms added to it,” he said.
Though it seems like there would be a lot to learn if one were interested in joining the club, Koziell, who just started playing some of them for the first time this summer, said they are usually easy to learn and the experience would not be overwhelming.
“There’s just this wealth of games we’re going to get into,” she said, “but we’re all learning together or at least there’s somebody who knows how to play who will teach you.”
Even if someone doesn’t have the materials needed to play, Koziell said they come prepared for that in their endeavor to be welcoming to new players.
“If you don’t have a deck, everybody brings spares just in case,” she said. “Plus, we’re trying to get a pizza budget, and maybe tournaments with cooler prizes.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Guild, visit its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/gugamersguild.
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