Video game nation



Lauren Piro

“Dude, you did not master the expert level on Guitar Hero.””Yes, I did.””Whatever, I beat Zelda last week. Stayed up all night long.””Man, that’s so lame; it’s not even the best RPG out there. Might as well have defeated Wii bowling.””Aw, come on. Why don’t you go play your N64 like you’re in eighth grade again.””Take me back to days of Super Mario anytime …”

If one even mentions the words “video game” to a room of antsy college students, longing to grasp an ounce of fun amid education-induced comas, you may end up hearing something like this. Perhaps you can even jump in on the conversation, tossing in your two cents about your favorite console or game. The reaction seems automatic, and it appears that college males and females alike are obsessed with the gaming phenomenon.According to market research firm NPD, video game sales reached $13.5 billion nationally in 2006. The number is up 18 percent from the previous year, perhaps due to increased technology in consoles, creativity in games and the growing demographic interested in video games. NPD also reports that the average player is somewhere in his or her late 20s. Take one look inside a random Villanova residence hall, and you’re bound to find a living example of the immense popularity of video gaming.Ask a Villanovan about his or her favorite game, and answers abound. Many students comment on loving the Madden NFL and Halo series. Others like the novelty and party/tournament-worthy fun of Guitar Hero, while still others enjoy some nostalgia when it comes to gaming.”I stick with the classic mascots – Mario, Link,” sophomore Andrew Simone says. “No matter how many times you play a Zelda or Mario game you get involved with the story.”Many, even the non-techie students, seem wholly intrigued by new game consoles. Several comment on the multimedia Xbox 360, and Villanovans and the rest of world seemed speechless over the interactive ingenuity of Nintendo Wii, released in the past year.”I’d probably play the Wii instead of sleep,” sophomore Chris Muyo says, jokingly taking his well-being into consideration when thinking about owning the console.And just how much time do college students spend playing video games? A 2004 Michigan State study notes that college males devote about 16 hours per week to video games – a drop from their middle-school and high-school years, but significant nonetheless. For the Villanova student, this number may not be so cut and dry.”Do I have school work, or do I not have school work?” junior Evan Hollenshade says.It’s nice to know that Villanovans are taking initiatives beyond their urges to be a technological rock star or simulated football player, but perhaps this provides insight as to why so many students enjoy video games. Is it a highly effective procrastination tool? A way to ensure you’ll always have friends in your room, as long as your PS2 is working? Is it an escape from the scheduling and same ol’, same ol’ of everyday life? Is it the draw of living in a fantasy world?”You get to be the superhero!” Hollenshade says emphatically. “That’s why I like it.”And yet, maybe the answer is even simpler than that.”They’re fun,” junior Eric Gallagher says before returning to his rousing game of Crazy Cube on the Internet.And surely we could all use a little more competition-mongering, dream-world based fun … at least once in a while.