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!

Higher Ed Geek 2.0

Higher Ed Geek started in April of 2013 as an effort to allow for me to nourish a creative outlet in my life. I wrote a few blog posts when I could, but I wasn't consistent and often forgot about it. I committed in January of 2014 to put more effort into the blog. I invested in the site and I found that the more I put in, the more I got out. I was able to reach a wider audience, make more connections with people about the stuff I cared about, and was able to spread a message that had a positive impact on others.

I'm excited to commit to put even more energy into the site now.

I have some big ideas of where Higher Ed Geek can go but I need help to get there. Any donations people can give helps get the site towards the next stage in it's life. I'm hoping to at least refresh the design of the site, commission a new logo, maximize the back end of the site, and get more people writing on a regular basis. (If donating isn't your thing, check out my book of collected blog posts. Proceeds from that helps fund the site as well.)

Depending on how far this crowdfunding campaign goes, I could do even more (trust me, I have plenty of ideas!).

I appreciate anyone and everyone's support. Either donating, sharing, or giving feedback is all helpful in reaching the goals I'm setting for this effort and the site as a whole. I'll be keeping up the page until the end of the month of October so make sure to help get the word out and show your support!

Stay geeky, weird, and proud, everyone!

The Power of Student Government in Shaping the Campus Community

* This post was originally featured on The Student Affairs Hub.

College students have long used the campus environment to work towards positive social change. The very nature of a university encourages this sort of intellectual discourse, and a common way for students to get involved in making a difference on campus is through student government. It allows for students to debate important campus topics, and provides a platform for the institution to directly hear the needs of the student body.

The beauty of student government is that it is typically accessible to all students. New incoming students can be encouraged to find a voice within this organization, meet fellow students, and start making their legacy known at their institution (Trust me, they'll thank you for the legacy stuff come graduation time).

I found out about the power of student government far too late into my undergraduate career. In my final year, I was passionate about getting hydration stations installed on campus, to provide cold, clean and filtered water in a sustainable way that would reduce the use of plastic water bottles while encouraging healthier habits in students. I realized a way to start to make this change possible was to lobby the student government to accept a stance of advocating for these to become a part of the community. Once they accepted, within months there were a few of these stations popping up around campus. This felt so inspiring to accomplish in such a short amount of time!

Perhaps they were already planning on doing this, but at the very least, through my efforts, the student body representatives let their voice be heard and for the future, the administration would know that students wanted to have the hydration stations and would feel more accountable to do so.

Especially for new, incoming students, building confidence, connections, and communication skills are all pretty valuable goals for student affairs professionals. So I encourage you to empower your students to get involved in student government. Even more importantly, I encourage you to bring students to the table and let them be heard when it comes to decision making. They'll have some important insights and they are the ones who it will affect, so I think it is only fair to hear them out. At the very least, they'll benefit from the experience.

Some Final Thoughts on San Diego Comic Con

IMG_7533 San Diego Comic Con is the pinnacle of geek culture. Pretty much everything you can think of in the entertainment world is somehow represented there. From Power Rangers to Galactus to Buffy to Peanuts and Charlie Brown, and everything in between. It's a great melting pot of fandom, with people coming from all over the world to take part, but there are some elements that were distressing to me as a newcomer, much like with national student affairs conventions.

The Verge did a great piece that gave voice to some of my concerns, and The New York Times highlighted well the convention experience as a whole. The long lines, the shallow industry showcases disguised as fan service, the overwhelming crowds, and the exclusive, fairly expensive nature (especially with airfare, meals, and hotels) of it all just seemed very privileged to me. The convention lost some of its immediate luster to me after spending a few days there. Maybe I just didn't do it right, but I didn't feel like the point of it all was to spend half of your hard fought ticket to SDCC waiting in lines for a short session that essentially was just a studio patting itself on the back for how great their thing is (and then the trailer you saw being released the next day online). There was a lack of depth that annoyed me to most of the proceedings. There was so much going on it's not surprising. There just wasn't a time or place for it.

Maybe the whole event has become a bloated version of what it was originally intended to be and it will eventually deflate back to a more focused event. Or maybe that is what the other conventions are for. Nowadays though, a lot of comic conventions seem to be trying to model themselves after SDCC, becoming huge entertainment industry showcases versus a focus on panels, artists, and personal interactions. Also, it's a whole other post in itself about the problems SDCC has with consent and cosplay.

Don't get me wrong, I had a great time. It just feels like it could have been even better. Maybe if I get the chance to go again it will be different. Maybe I'm expecting too much or maybe it's all just not for me. The crowds were frustrating for me at times, I couldn't buy a lot of stuff even if I wanted to (I didn't that much), and I got confused many times about just how the convention worked. Maybe I should have done more homework and preparing.

Well, either way, until next year, here's to the memories and the weird, wild, and one of a kind San Diego Comic Con.