Going to a Casual Video Game Club in College — My Experience at Button Mashers (Ichiro Miyasato)

When tackled with loads of school work and increased responsibilities of being a college student, playing video games might be seen as an irresponsible activity if someone is focused on getting good grades in college or trying to develop a good resume for work later in life. Even so, we all need some way to reduce stress after busy work throughout the week. People might play sports, go on a hike, explore their surroundings, or hang out with friends, but how about playing video games in the presence of other gamers?

I have attended a club called Button Mashers, which meets every Friday night at 6PM in the “Computer Science Building” of Western Washington University, the university that I currently attend. It is a general area where fellow college students get together to play video games, regardless of single-player or multi-player, console or handheld, or with friends or new-encounters. If you have absolutely no interest in video games, then a place like this might not be intersting if not for having conversations with the members there. For those who do have an interest in video games, this can be a good community to find other people who like the same things as you do. Whether it is Super Smash Brothers or Pokemon or Halo or Mario Kart, any game is welcome to be played as long as members bring something in.

One might look at such a club and say that it is a complete waste of time. There seems to be a view that video games harm our lives and that they make individuals become less attached to others and the real world and with the concept of virtual reality beginning to emerge in society, that may be understandable. Despite that, there are communities such as clubs like Button Mashers where people may benefit in the social aspect of playing video games together. Personally, I do not see anything harmful in this case. By being in this club, some people make long lasting relationships which could not have been made anywhere else. Sometimes, communities like this are the only place where people can be themselves simply due to the environment of them.

The main reason the Button Mashers Club serves as an example of a more accepting community is due to the pure casual nature of it. People here do not care about your skill or your knowledge of video games. This makes it easier for those completely new to the activity to become comfortable with themselves and others. This also brings a subject of a possible conflict which occurs in similar clubs such as this one. Most gamers seem to have a natural competitive nature, which tends to “scare off” potential newcomers into the community. Some places tend to focus on only a single franchise of games out of the many possible that could be played for its pure competitive factor, and this creates a rift between those trying to have a fun time and those trying to prove that they are the better player. Casual clubs have less of that and appeal to a wider population.

Gaming communities in college comes down to personal preference. No matter how great a video game could be for one person, it could be a hit-or-miss for another. I feel that such communities fulfill their purpose for those with an interest in them. Some people may love gaming at first-hand while some may never feel enjoyment from them for their whole life. Regardless, if you are a college gamer and are looking for a community to join in, you should not feel ashamed of attending these clubs. Their whole purpose is to help you bond with other individuals whom like similar things as you do. I believe that makes it easier to make more friends in the long-run.