By Shaun LaFountain
The game room at Fitchburg State University doesn’t just offer fun and excitement. It gives students a chance to develop a new sense of community with other fellow students.
David Masse, better known around campus as Joe, has been working as manager of the game room for nearly a year, and he’s seen the game room’s popularity growing in the right direction.
“Last month, in a 30 day period with 17 days of operation, 920 people used the game room,” Masse said. This number is derived from the renting of the equipment used for the students who want to play the games.
There’s no doubt the game room’s popularity is growing. Most of the fluctuations in numbers have to do with the student’s workload or busy scheduling. It also has to do with the fact that most residential students go back home for the weekends, leaving less time for students to enjoy the benefits of what Fitchburg State has to offer.
The game room has changed from three semesters ago. Around September two years ago, the game room moved due to renovations. At one time, it was known to draw around 600 people a month with only four to 30 of them being regulars. Most interactions among the students were awkward to say the least, but now 70 to 80 students are known regularly by staff members, and there are few if any awkward conversations.
One of the biggest problems with the game room has to do with numbers. 52% of all students at FSU are commuters, and only 48% are residential. There was one event held every two weeks and this has recently been changed over to once a month. The larger student workload creates more difficulty in event planning. The game room is working on a more effective approach to solving this problem.
In the game room, the biggest activity is pool with nearly 50% of all students participating; the next biggest activity is ping pong at 25%, and the remainder consists of video games, board games and Foosball. The most popular board games are Monopoly, basic playing card games, Tsuro, Apples to Apples, and Sorry. The most popular video games on campus are Super Smash Brawl for the Wii, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 for the Xbox 360, Halo, Wii Sports, and Mario Party 8.
Even with the increased popularity and success of videogame consoles like Wii, Xbox, and Playstation, video games were lower on the list because of what Masse says is a lack of community interaction amongst the students while playing. Masse’s theory is that videogames are typically a non-social activity and involve small groups of people; they’re a better dorm based activity because of the concentration it requires to keep your eyes glued on the screen at all times. Games like pool and ping pong involve direct interaction with another student and not just with a piece of technology.
Masse sees the future of the game room in a positive light. The pool tables and the ping pong tables are professional quality: nine foot tables for pool and certified table tennis boards and balls for ping pong. With effective communication and good staffing, Masse hopes to create a better sense of community for everyone involved with the game room and everyone involved with FSU.
Masse said, “The game room’s popularity will grow as the sense of community grows. School work has a large impact on popularity as more students come out of their dorms and into the community of Fitchburg State University.”