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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

A League of Their Own: Life in the Gamer Lab

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If you enter CMC 110, you may be overwhelmed by sounds of automated gunfire and angry students, battling it out with mages and bruisers in a virtual arena of death and destruction. Welcome to the gaming lab, a room infamous on campus for its noisy inhabitants, who never seem to leave the lab for more than a bathroom break.

But are Carleton “gamers” the deviants they’re made out to be? Tor Hagen, President of the Carleton Gaming Club, doesn’t think so. “The word ‘gamer’ implies that we’re more serious than we are. Of course, some students are really into it, and maybe fit the ‘gamer’ stereotype, but Carls who game in CMC 110 are pretty casual.”

The structure of the Carleton Gaming Club supports Hagen’s statement. When asked what his official title was, Hagen and his friend Kevin Liao laughed. “We don’t really have formal leadership,” Liao states. “We mostly just need someone to interface with ITS and to make sure we don’t get too loud or too messy,” Hagen continues. According to Liao and Hagen, “gamers” were banned from CMC 110 in the fall of 2013, after a series of student complaints forced ITS to revoke their gaming privileges.

To get around the gaming ban, a former Carleton student created the Carleton Gaming Club, which has taken up permanent residence in CMC 110. According to Hagen and Liao, the Carleton Gaming Club strives to create a healthy environment for Carleton students interested in casual online gaming. This informal mission statement directly responds to growing criticism of gaming culture, which is commonly associated with obsessive and antisocial behavior.

“In general, gamer culture kind of sucks,” says Tommy Grodzicki, President of the Carleton Smash Bros Community. “It is very misogynistic and words that you just aren’t supposed to use get thrown around like it’s nothing.”

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily apply to gaming culture at Carleton, as Grodzicki notes. “I do see aspects of the larger gaming community at Carleton, which makes me sad, but as a whole we’re a lot better.”

Grodzicki also stressed the diversity of the gaming community. While Grodzicki admits that he is more of a “gamer” than the “average person,” he argues that there is a significant difference between Fighter games and Massive Online Battle Arenas, or MOBAs. “In Smash, you have to be in the same room as everyone else who’s playing, so it becomes a bit more personal. In online games, you’re mostly playing with people you don’t know.”

It is this anonymity that corrupts gamer culture, Grodzicki argues, as it allows players to say things they would not normally say in a public setting. When asked if there was any camaraderie amongst MOBA players, Hagen and Liao said no. “You don’t really feel a connection with someone you don’t know just because they play League (of Legends) or DOTA (Defense of the Ancients),” Liao states. “However,” Hagen notes, “There is a sense of community amongst Carleton students who game together.”

That doesn’t come as a surprise, considering the most dedicated members of the Carleton Gaming Club spend 4-6 hours a day in CMC 110, according to Hagen and Liao. Of course, not all of that time is spent gaming. “I’ll often take breaks to check my e-mail or do my homework,” Hagen says. “That’s the beauty of MOBAs, you can play one game and be done.”

Playing just one game is often easier said than done. According to Liao, gaming has an addictive quality, which may be part of the reason our society is concerned with its rising popularity. According to, 67 million people worldwide play League of Legends per month, and 27 million play per day. With the rise of gaming competitions that offer millions of dollars in prize money and the increased accessibility of MOBAS, those numbers will likely continue to grow.

According to Hagen and Liao, that isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, at least for Carleton students. Though Hagen, Liao and Grodzicki all agree that many gamers take gaming too seriously, most Carleton “gamers” don’t fall into that trap. “Most Carleton ‘gamers’ view gaming as a form of entertainment, not a sport,” Hagen asserts. Liao adds, “We also use it to maintain friendships with people who live far away. Gaming actually provides people with a lot of opportunities.”

Whether “opportunities” means outlets for social interaction or refers to gaming’s ability to increase individuals’ social mobility, one thing is clear: gaming isn’t going anywhere any time soon. So gather your “tanks” and your “squishies” and suit up for battle; the virtual war is coming to a computer lab near you.

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