Group Play

Group Play
The Game Room

Greg Tito | 23 Sep 2008 12:03
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College was a life-changing experience, but for the first six months I was stuck in my introverted, game-playing ways. Instead of partaking in the drinking and promiscuous sex that most freshman were, I spent my time in the dorm room alone playing Civilization 2, smoking clove cigarettes and listening to The Cure. Sure, I was a theater student, but that's no excuse. Perhaps it was because my roommate (let's call him Mike, because that was his name) was very different from me. He read muscle car magazines while I read The Lord of the Rings for the fourth time. He struggled to write a coherent sentence for English 109 while I jumped right into linguistics and Shakespeare. He joined a fraternity and tried to bang cheerleaders while I worked as a carpenter in the theater's scene shop and tried to work up the courage to merely speak to the actresses. (I failed.)

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Our relationship was shaky, and not just because he insisted on pleasuring the ladies while I lay underneath them on the bottom bunk. When I brought up my old Nintendo for the second semester, however, we found that we didn't hate each other as completely as we thought. The two of us proved that frat boys and theater geeks could be friends, as long as there's an old school gaming system to serve as the social lubricant.

The game room was born again, this time through Tecmo Super Bowl. For the uninitiated, this was the first football game to possess both the NFL team license and the players' license, which allowed you to dominate as Bo Jackson (the greatest football player of 1991, apparently). But Tecmo Super Bowl also allowed you to play a whole season by assigning multiple teams to be played manually with the rest handled by the A.I. We would run automatically through the games that didn't involve our teams and play the ones that did. And since all of the games were at least simulated, the game generated detailed statistics which it saved directly on the cart. I was never a huge football fan, but I was suddenly debating yards/rush and QB ratings like a pro.

Other dudes on my floor caught the bug, and we ended up playing countless seasons of Tecmo Super Bowl. I lost the ultimate game the first season playing as the San Francisco Giants. The Montana-Rice combo was potent, but I couldn't deal with the unstoppable force that was Bo Jackson. Montana ended up with over 4000 yards passing though, which is amazing considering the quarters were only three minutes long. My dorm room turned into a full-on sports arena. Guys who I used to pass in the hall with barely a grunt of acknowledgement became my cheering section. Fifteen of us congregated to watch the real Super Bowl, complete with Pabst Blue Ribbon, chili and snausages. It was a bonding of men, brought about by a room devoted to gaming.

But what about the other half of the population, those womenfolk uninterested in the movements of a leather ball on a field, much less a pixilated version? The separation of gaming into its own space benefits relationships with the ladies, too. Perhaps the best example happened to me later in college. I rented a house near campus with five people, one of which was an overbearing, pretentious women's studies major named Leslie. The house had a great room with a TV, but she absolutely refused to allow any gaming equipment in what she thought would be a serene environment for studying, sewing projects and getting high. She was a hemp-wearing, card-carrying hippy, and those damn videogames didn't jive with saving the earth or smelling like patchouli.

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