Immersion article, November 2010.
I sat in on SUNY Purchase’s Gamers Club to see what it’s all about, and even joined in on the fun myself.
As I opened the heavy door to SUNY Purchase’s lounge located in The Olde, I was welcomed by a rush of cool air and bright lights. The yellow walls surrounded members of the gamers club, who sat hunched over in sweatshirts on the scattered red, blue, and green armchairs.
The wide eyes of the gamers focused on the 36 inch Toshiba flat screen TV on the wall as their thumbs jabbed buttons on their white Wii controllers. The clicking of the buttons and the jolts of the controllers blended in with the epic music of the club’s most popular game, Super Smash Brothers Brawl.
Vice president and junior journalist major, Jason Kuang, sat on a three seated red couch.
“We play Halo sometimes,” Kuang said. He looked up from his laptop and adjusted his glasses. “We once had a ‘Retro Day.’ We played games like GoldenEye, but it just didn’t work out.” He pulled back his sleeves on his red and black striped sweatshirt. He wore an old pair of mismatched gloves—his fingers stuck out of the tops. “We’ve played Street Fighter, Mario Kart. But Super Smash Brothers is the most popular game. Everyone likes it,” he said.
The four gamers who fought at Hyrule Temple, one of the largest stages, that includes a castle and plenty of levels to fight on, all sat on the couch in front of the TV. After an exchange of “That’s what she said” jokes, they told each other to “eat it” and threatened to kill each other. Threats like “Zelda’s a bitch”, “God damn it, Diddy Kong, kill yourself already!” and “No, Mr. Saturn, you piece of crap” bounced off of the walls.
When a voice from the TV boomed “Player one defeated,” the room roared with laughter at the way one of the characters, Diddy Kong, a small monkey in a red shirt with a peanut popgun, was thrown into the screen.
“Pikachu can go electrify himself,” said the defeated gamer. He let his controller slip out of his hand and onto the cushion. He slouched back, beneath a Mortal Kombat poster. He curled one leg over the other and glared at the remaining characters on the screen: Zelda, Pikachu, and Captain Falcon.
After watching how skilled at the game everyone was, and having played every version of the game numerous times when I was younger, I decided to join in on the fun. Julian Norton, junior graphic design major, who decided to check out the club for the first time that day, handed me his controller, and I took a spot on the couch in front of the TV. The gamers mentioned numerous times, “Let’s see what she’s got.”
The first round I played, we fought at a small course, Green Hill Zone. It was narrow and had a dip in the middle that randomly crumbled apart and consumed the fighting characters.
Out of the 35 characters from various video games, I selected Wolf, a two legged gray wolf with sharp white claws, a gun, and an eye patch, from one of my favorite childhood video games, Star Fox.
The intense, quick paced music, the shooting and the stabbing, the punching, the burning, the exploding, the electrocuting, the slashing and the throwing, got my adrenaline flowing. I wanted to win.
The gamers leaned over their knees and gripped their controllers as they shouted commands at their characters. “Do razor leaf!”, “Come on, princess, use your Toad on that!”, “Eat him, damn it, eat him!” “Falcon Punch!”
We had four lives each, and at the end of the round, I had 10 knockouts and came in second place. The gamers were surprised that “a little lady” like me could give them competition. For the next match, I chose my favorite Nintendo character, the egg-chucking, long tongued, green dinosaur, Yoshi. I was told that Yoshi was “a bad choice.” I came in third, but the gamers were impressed with my performance.
A few more gamers entered the lounge as the three hours flew by. The others turned to see who entered after the door squeaked open, and they greeted the bundled up gamer by name.
The president of the gamers club, Josh Hernandez, drama studies senior, slouched on the couch next to Jason Kuang. He wore a navy blue jacket and brown pants. His legs hung over the arm of the couch. A small, white garbage pail overflowing with popcorn bags, ketchup-smeared baskets, and empty sushi containers was beneath his dangling feet. “No one else would take the job, so I took it,” he said. “It’s pretty easy. I show up and decide which tournaments get played. I also bring whatever games.”
The gamers club started five years ago, when Joe Dinozzi, a Purchase drama studies graduate, transferred to Purchase. It was a club that he really wanted to see at the school.
Jackie Jolly, a sophomore visual arts major, sat cross legged on the floor. The light from the TV screen reflected in her glasses. Her brown, fuzzy boots wiggled as she watched the last two characters, both with high damage, avoid each other. “I found out about the gamers club when I went to the club fair in the beginning of the year,” she said. She spoke quickly. “I was like ‘They play video games, me too. Cool!’ So I came here and it’s a lot of fun.” She parted her thin bangs that came half way down her forehead. The rest of her hair was short—parallel to her chin—frizzy and loosely curled.
When one of the players grunted and paused the game, the other three, and the gamers that watched, looked at him, impatiently waiting for the slaying to continue.
“My controller’s dying!” said the gamer, holding his Wii controller out for all to see. The small light on the bottom of the controller flashed. They all looked to Kuang.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out two double A batteries.