A s a freshman, I bonded most with my floor because of "Super Smash Bros. Brawl." The Nintendo Wii video game, the third in the massively popular series that brings dozens of game mascots together to fight it out, was a major common ground for all the guys on the third floor of Del Rey South last year. If you wanted to hang, you had to be ready to play. It was a little like "Fight Club," only with Pikachu instead of Brad Pitt.
For most of second semester, playing "Smash" became a part of the daily routine. Occasional Friday or Saturday nights would be spent on giant "Smash" marathons. As can be imagined, everyone on the floor just got better and better at playing. But what was much more remarkable was how much closer everyone got through the experience.
Unsurprisingly enough, "playing video games with your floor" is never on the list of recommended friend-making techniques counselors and First Year Experience staff members spout off at the beginning of the year. Truth be told, the image of a bunch of guys crammed in a room, staring at a TV screen doesn't quite scream "COLLEGE!" like chiseled and smiling students throwing a frisbee around on the Sunken Garden. But for many guys (and a few girls, too!), video games like "Smash" were a big part of their childhood, and thus can be an even greater bonding experience later in life.
The general consensus among concerned adults and grumbling congressmen and congresswomen is that video games are a solely solitary experience among youths today with no hope for socialization. The preferable option, it would seem, would be getting out into the neighborhood with the other kids, grabbing the ol' baseball bat and glove and playing ball.
While potentially still practical in the New England area, where neighborhoods are still most likey to be close-knit and kids still live in close proximity to one another, many West Coast cities (and, speaking from experience, big cities in Texas) are too spread out with too many kids stuck in separate pockets of suburbia to make such backyard baseball fantasies viable. (Perhaps to substitute for this experience, Humongous Entertainment created the computer game "Backyard Baseball," and I, for one, think I got the better end of the deal there. I'll take playing as superstar Pablo Sanchez over attempting to actually hit a ball myself any day.)
So kids in today's world prefer playing on a video screen than a city street. Does it really stunt their social growth that significantly? Well, maybe, if it consumes their entire life. But the experience of video games in childhood can be a boon to future college students looking for an easy way to bond with their new friends that transcends origins, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. It was perhaps the greatest uniting factor on my floor and even helped one girl bond with her future boyfriend - they still play video games together to this day.
Experiences like these prove that video games aren't just a solitary experience anymore. They're meant to be enjoyed in groups, discussed among friends. They're meant to be a source of screaming and hollering, of joy and frustration. In short, they are the new backyard sports - communal experiences among youths that bond them together - and they aren't going away any time soon.
This is the opinion of Kevin O'Keeffe, a sophomore screenwriting major from Austin, Texas. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.