Gaming and the Antisocial Myth, Debunked

When you think of people playing games, what pictures does it bring to mind? For many people with no understanding of gaming, it’s still a stereotype. They will often imagine the social recluse, hiding away in a bedroom, tapping furiously on a keyboard or controller. It’s a narrative that has existed ever since home computers became popular - and it doesn’t seem like it is going away at times.

I find this odd, I must admit. I've gamed my entire life and love to play alongside or against other people. After all, way back in 2008 a study into gaming found that three-quarters of all gamers played with other people either online or in person. This is objectively about as far from antisocial as it can get. But, here were are, eight years down the line and it’s still a view that many people have of gaming. I thought I would pull together some ideas to prove that, far from being a lonely activity, the community is very much part of the gaming experience.


The arcade

Back in the early days, most people only had the option of hitting their arcade if they wanted to play the latest games. And, while most games were only one or two players, it was still a social experience. In fact, arcades were home to all different kinds of groups, who often when on to form significant communities. There was a little too much competition at times, of course. But overall, ask anyone who remembers the early days and you will get a positive response.


Home PCs and consoles

It was only when home computers became widespread and consoles became popular that people started playing alone. Even then, that period didn’t last long. People would always look for multiplayer games, even before broadband made MMOGs possible. Now, of course, when you find the best games online, you'll tend to find  thousands of other people playing them, too. It's a chance to connect with people from all over the world, make new friends, and join a community of like-minded others.


Board games

Don’t forget; gaming isn’t just about sitting in front of a screen and pushing some buttons. Board games are still relevant now as they have ever been. And these highly complex games are a lot of fun to play, and most rely on a group of people getting together. Even the mainstream success of games like Cards Against Humanity (which I personally love) could be used as evidence for the social benefits of gaming.


Roleplaying games

Another are to think about is role playing games. Again, the best RPGs involve a group of people coming together. RPGs rely on groups, and to think that makes players antisocial is pretty wide of the mark. In fact, the whole point of RPGs is that you come together as a group and try to solve a problem. It teaches you everything you need to know about teamwork - and a lot more besides.


The future...

Finally, let’s take a look at where games are going right now and into the future. A quick look at Pokemon Go’s success will reveal that social gaming is close to exploding. And I, for one, look forward to seeing what comes next.

Thanks for stopping by!

#SAGeeks - Some Epic Nights with Board Games

The SAGeeks series is all about celebrating the geeky and nerdy sides of all of us working in higher education and student affairs. The series is edited by Jenn Osolinski and Lynne Meyer. Check out our resources page for more geeky goodness.

When I first read that there would be a blog series about “geeking out,” I knew that I had to write something. But I wasn’t sure what my topic would be. Would it be my intense love of Star Wars? What about Game of Thrones? Harry Potter? After some thought, I came to the realization that I needed to write about something that I have recently started to geek out about. Board games. I’m not talking about Monopoly, Sorry, or the Game of Life. I’m talking about epic, hours long, thematic games.

I was first introduced to many of these unique, intricate board games through my current boyfriend. These board games have taken up hours of my time on the weekends and have brought my friends closer together while threatening to tear us apart. Trust issues become serious problems in the board game world.

There are a few board games in particular that I would like to highlight for you, dear reader. These board games are some of my favorites and the best part about them is that they have taught me so much about myself and the world of Student Affairs.


T.I.M.E. Stories

This is the most recent board game that I have played. The plot is simple.

Your team of friends are time agents who must go back in time to prevent temporal faults and paradoxes that threaten the whole universe! The best (or worst?) part of the game is that you cannot fail permanently. You will travel back in time as many times as is needed for you to successfully complete the mission. This means that you can play the same story over and over again until you get it right. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got infinite do-overs in the real world? Each story requires the team to solve puzzles and roll die to try to kill your enemies.

The cooperative style of this game relates directly to the work we do in Student Affairs:


How often do we have to work together, depend on each other to complete our work on time, and when we fail, have to pick up the pieces and try again? Daily. Many times, failure isn’t an option for us. We can’t fail that resident struggling with conduct behavior because if we do, they may drop out. We can’t fail to pull those grade checks for that Greek chapter because their headquarters needs them.


When you fail to solve that puzzle for the 3rd time, you want to throw your hands up and give up. But you must have the patience to continue. Persist through your frustrations. When a staff member asks questions for roughly 10 minutes of every staff meeting, it is easy to get frustrated with them and stop answering the questions. This is when patience is so necessary. Without patience, so many situations would cause us to throw in the towel and call it a day.


Dead of Winter

In this game, you play as a team of survivors who have set up a colony during a zombie invasion in the middle of winter. You can pick different goals and players each time you play. No matter your end goal, you must roll dice to attack and kill the zombies that have invaded your colony while searching through card decks at locations outside of the colony to aid in your mission.

At the end of each round, you must feed your survivors and survive any zombie spawns. If you fail to feed your survivors, the morale of the group is lowered and if it gets to zero, you lose the game. Throughout the game, you have the option to allow helpless survivors to join your colony, but you will have to feed them as well. This game is about weighing your options, chances, and hoping for the best.

Taking Chances

Sometimes we have to search a deck of cards, hoping for the one card that we need. Sometimes we get that card. Sometimes we don’t. Positive changes are rare when you don’t take a chance. That new involvement initiative you created could fall flat. A brand new, large scale program that you spent thousands of dollars on could only bring in 100 students. Or it could bring in 2,000 students and become a new campus tradition.

Helpless Survivors

Sure, in Student Affairs we probably won’t have helpless survivors who want to escape zombies, but we will have students who need our help. These students may not be able to offer much, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon them in the cold. It is so important for us to recognize when students are struggling and to help them with the resources we can provide.


Board games have provided my friends and I with countless hours of frustrating, stressful, and fun entertainment. We have learned so much about ourselves and each other while rolling die, solving puzzles, and moving pawns across boards. I have developed a love so extreme that I have potential board games bookmarked on my web browser. I am a proud Student Affairs board game geek.

No matter what you geek out about, make it fun.

Geek on.

Kelsey Murray is a Hall Director at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She is a Colorado native who transplanted to Tennessee. In her free time she enjoys binge watching Netflix, playing her ukulele, and obsessing over her cat, Penny Lane.

How Board Games Helped Me Make New Friends

social-3f4a4c57 Making friends as an adult is tough. When you're in college, you're in an environment that lends itself to connections. It's easier to meet people your age who share your interests. As an adult working full-time, I've had to make more of a concerted effort to connect with people. I have made friends at work, but it is different to meet people completely outside of any context you have like work or class.

I've mingled in some social meetup groups in my community recently and have made some awesome friends in the process. When we hang out, we typically have game nights where we play different card or board games together as a social activity for our small group. It's been a fun way to help get to know each other and just have fun outside our normal routines. While I was not one to play a lot when I was younger, board games have helped me solidify my first adult friendships, and I'm eternally grateful for that.

Some of the games that my friends and I play have been Cards Against Humanity (a common favorite), We Didn't Playtest This At All, Geek Battle, Man Bites Dog, and various others as well as just other random card games that some of us know of that we use a regular deck of playing cards for. It's been a lot of fun to discover new games like these since board games are experiencing a bit of a Renaissance now it feels like. Games like these just help us put down our phones and interact with each other through a simple and fun activity. Some of the games are mindless fun, others are competition based. A bit of friendly competition though is never a bad thing!

I highly recommend exploring this world of board games with your friends, if they're old or new, you can find a fun game to engage with. There are so many different types now that you can definitely find something you'll enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by!