A group of students huddles in front of a screen, the students' mission cooperative amid a hum of conversation and the click of buttons. Task complete, their arms fly into the air triumphantly as they high-five or pat one another on the back.
These students are embracing gaming – a unique form of community that is gaining momentum on college campuses. Whitworth has an official Gaming Club, and students gather frequently to play games in residence halls. Gaming can provide healthy competition and inspire camaraderie among players.
"Even when the game pits players against each other, a bit of competition can build some pretty strong bonds," says Jacqueline Lee, '18, secretary of the Gaming Club. The club has about nine regular members, but hosts events where all students are welcome to join in for board games and video games alike.
"Gaming Club has become a home base for me, a place where my community lives," says longtime member Kim Cook, '18. "I feel safe and cared for at Gaming Club even on hard days."
Electronic gaming, referred to as "esports," is making its way into college classrooms.
"Using gaming activities to illustrate concepts happens in a lot of disciplines," says Pete Tucker, '91, professor of mathematics & computer science. "On Community Building Day this year, students joined me at Holmes Elementary School to guide fourth-graders in Hour of Code tutorial activities, and most of those students went straight to games. They enjoyed the games, and in fact they were writing computer programs."
Chris Blair, '18, president of the Gaming Club, met his housemates through gaming.
"When the three of us lived on the same floor in Oliver, video and table-top gaming was what we did together," he says. "It was something we all enjoyed and bonded over."
The group now lives in a theme house named Entertainment Emporium in homage to the root of their friendship.
"Gaming is a fantastic outlet for building community because it continues to grow in popularity," Blair says.
College campuses are embracing this community interaction, with some schools even creating gaming leagues in which student-teams compete at the collegiate level. Because of the wide variety of games – from strategy to resource management to role-playing – students of all interests and abilities can engage with this medium. The evolution of technology continues to provide more immersive and innovative experiences, making the future of gaming unpredictable and fascinating.