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Students play, discuss current events surrounding gaming

<p><b>Rutgers’ Scarlet Knight crouches before a towering game of Jenga Giant for “RU Game?,” an event held at Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus the evening of April 7. </b>COLIN PIETERS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER</p>

Rutgers’ Scarlet Knight crouches before a towering game of Jenga Giant for “RU Game?,” an event held at Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus the evening of April 7. COLIN PIETERS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

White sheets covering book shelves with a projection of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., Nintendo Wii Sports and play areas with Jenga Giant may not seem like a traditional library environment to many.

Students looking for a night of gaming, questions and answers with professors of video game courses, conversation about video games and the culture of gaming, were invited to attend “RU Game?” at Alexander Library Wednesday night.

About 30 students crowded around tables filled with board games, Nintendo Wiis and small television sets for an opportunity to represent the Rutgers gaming community.

“I’m really interested in looking at things that are different, said Megan Lotts, art librarian at Rutgers University Libraries. “This isn’t something that you’d expect to see in the library.”

But Lotts said she is looking to change that perception and attract more people to the Rutgers libraries by teaming up with the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) for unique events.

“I really admire RUSA,” Lotts said. “We want to be partners with them because we believe in what they’re doing on campus and we hope that they’ll look to the libraries as places to hold events.”

Lotts spoke about the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration in order to make the learning process more fun and engaging for students and hopes “RU Game?,” as well as future events, provide students with enough enjoyment to keep them coming back for more.

“I really believe that learning should be fun,” Lotts said. “I think if people have a good time here tonight, that they’ll be more likely to come back to the library.”

Taking into account the amount of equipment needed to bring together a group of this size, Lotts said she hopes to give students the opportunity to game together that they may otherwise be missing out on.

“I hope that we’re providing things that maybe not everybody has the opportunity to do all the time,” Lotts said. “Not everybody has this gaming equipment.”

After the students filed in and filled the room, the panel, consisting of three Rutgers lecturers and the vice president of Scarlet Smash, the Rutgers Super Smash Bros. club, presented on various topics ranging from virtual gaming cultures, how gaming is affected by and can affect the real world, and the study of game players.

“I think this panel is really going to open our eyes to a lot of things that we didn’t know were happening on campus,” Lotts said.

Each panel member presented for about 10 minutes and answered student questions on various subjects

When one student asked the panel for examples of instances in which video games had an effect on social and political issues, the panel responded with the recent #Gamergate controversy and its effects on sexism and misogyny.

Gamer communities were sending rape threats, death treats and going into people’s emails and revealing personal information for many women who are taking prominent roles in the gaming community, said Aaron Trammell, panel member and lecturer in the School of Communication and Information.

“If you are someone who cares about equal rights or social justice, this is a humungous problem that is happening around games right now,” Trammell said. “I don’t want to say that all gamers are into #Gamergate –– they are not ––but there is definitely a type of gamer who is really into this sort of misogyny.”

Another student was concerned with the speed in which #Gamergate spread and made a comparison to other forms of culture where forum comments are usually filled with hate speech.

“#Gamergate is getting a lot of attention because it is a collective movement about misogyny,” Trammell said. “There (are) a lot of people getting together to make the lives of other people very miserable and that’s a clear problem.”

A second panel member, Joe Sanchez, associate professor in the Rutgers Library and Information Science Department, agreed with Trammel, and brought up how connected #Gamergate participants are in getting their voices heard on the Internet.

“The people participating in it are very social media savvy and online and have a huge online presence,” Sanchez said. “These are people that were very connected and were putting the effort in there to get these messages out.”

When asked what they would like to see the media do in terms of covering #Gamegate in a more balanced and informative manner, the panel responded by commenting on the way news outlets decide to present the issue as an argument.

“We don’t actually have dialogue,” Sanchez said. “It’s just point to counterpoint. I also think the media is quick to jump on negative stories about gaming pretty quickly.”

In regards to the term “gamer," Trammell suggested doing away with the word completely as he feels the word encourages a “macho culture.”

“I don’t think many people who play games necessarily see them selves as gamers so much as they see themselves as people who love games," Trammell said.

The panel ended with a conversation on the emergence of eSports and the possibility of Rutgers adding eSports to sports program.

“We’ve fallen behind in eSports,” Sanchez said. “We could reclaim our mantel of an innovator in college sports and colligate sports by jumping onto an eSports program.”

Before the night of gaming kicked-off and the panel came to a close, Jorge Schement, vice president of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, explained why he feels video games are important.

“Why are games important?,” Schement asked. “In the long run, we’re going to learn how to run our economy through games. You’re going to learn how to do jobs through games. We’re going to fight wars through games and we’re going to solve social problems with games.”

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