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Sore thumbs

By Nathan Tafoya
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
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America's second favorite waste of time

Back in the day, gaming systems like Atari used to go on modest dates with the youth of America. Now the video game industry is having an unabashed, billion-dollar affair with gamers all over the world.

The UA student body reflects this billion-dollar relationship to video games, which are largely considered the second-most popular form of entertainment, following television.

Physiology and nutrition senior Michelle Ruppelt has lived in residence halls for the past five years and acknowledged that video games are popular there, especially among guys.

"They really like NBA, MLB 2005, the John Madden games," said Ruppelt of guy favorites. "Those are the most popular. A lot of people play strategy games. I don't know the names of those."

Adam Grochowski, a material sciences and engineering junior, lives in Hopi Residence Hall and said he's interested in "any and all" types of games except role-playing games.

Grochowski said that while sports-related games are good for community building, it's the violent games that are hot right now.

Like Ruppelt, Grochowski has noticed there is more testosterone than estrogen to be found near random gaming systems.

"Normally it's guys," said Grochowski. "Normally the girls are watching - as in, we have no clue why they're actually watching."

Grochowski has a theory for this imbalanced gender ratio.

"I think it's mainly the competition thing," he explained. "Because normally when guys from my hall (played), we played sports games and killer games; we were competing against each other. It's just a whole ego trip. I think that's all it is to say for that two hours, you're better than the other person or something like that."

Video games do more than help college guys with their egos; they also connect people.

Ruppelt said multiplayer games like Counter Strike are good residence hall games because residents can play each other on the hall's network.

"Games that have modules that you can go (to) online are increasing in popularity because you can play people not in your location, people you don't even know," she said.

Business management senior Kevin Do said he plays video games because he gets bored.

"Over here we all play on the networks," Do said. "On Halo, there's multiplayer mode, so you can get up to 16 people in the same game and there's four XBox's with four controllers each and they all hook into the network in the dorms. And it's probably, technically, not allowed but we do it anyways."

Gaming is not exclusively a man's domain, however. There are people like psychology senior Senella Baldwin tearing holes the size of offensive linemen in Grochowski's theory.

"I play Madden football," she said. "I play Mortal Kombat, stuff like that, but I kind of suck."

Baldwin isn't like those girls who hang around Grochowski.

"I play with my guy friends," said Baldwin. "There aren't that many girls that play Madden."

She has a good reason for playing Madden, too.

"I love football," Baldwin said. "And I like being the Broncos. I can't be them in life so I'll be them on a little game."

Baldwin said she doesn't try to recruit girls to play because they'd just say no.

But everything seems to be OK because Baldwin said her guy friends call her up whenever they have tournaments. She's even beaten some of them.

Finally, there will always be those who just don't want to kill time in front of a screen, ignoring their sore thumbs.

"We have an Xbox, but we don't play it, ever," said pre-business senior Martin Maguire.

Maguire and friend Fredrik Wallberg, a journalism senior, said they used to play Tiger Woods golf and football games, but lost interest a year ago.

"Our roommates last year played Halo nonstop, so I hate video games," Wallberg said. "We're not very good at them, so when people are just, like, mopping you up in Halo, you don't really want to play."

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