Social Gaming Club Promotes Community

Members of GCC’s Social Gaming Club know there’s more to life than work and their goal is to help the GCC community have fun. “Social” gaming involves games where players sit at a table with other people, including traditional card and board games, as well as role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, collectible card games such as Magic the Gathering, war games using miniatures, and cooperative board games such as Pandemic. New this year, GCC’s Social Gaming Club was initiated by Chad Wright and others who regularly gathered in the Dining Commons to play Magic. The Social Gaming Club meets Wednesdays from noon to 12:50 p.m. in the MacLeish room (C307 in the Main Building). At meetings, students trade Magic cards and play brief games, introduce others to new games, or play Kung Fu or one of the cooperative survival games such as Forbidden Island. The club will hold a bake sale from noon to 1 p.m. on March 31 to April 2 on the first floor of the Core Building. They’ll use the proceeds from the bake sale to buy games to be stored at Student Life for students to borrow.

Chad, 40, is a liberal arts major with an emphasis on history and education. He lives in Greenfield and has been playing social games, specifically Magic the Gathering, since 1995. Chad said, “I wanted to create a club where like-minded people with a common interest could find new friends and player groups. The goals of our club are to recruit new members and spread the positive aspects of social gaming throughout the college. Every semester, we plan a social game day a week or two before final exams. With demonstration games, a Magic tournament, food, and prizes, the game day is a way we give to the GCC community and showcase the club.”

Many club members are also part of the gamer community that congregates at the game-playing space at Greenfield Games, a store in downtown Greenfield. Greenfield Games co-owner Seth Lustig said, “Our store motto is ‘we bring fun to the table.’ The whole point of this kind of game is people coming together around a table and having fun together. Community is as important to us as a store. We provide a welcoming, safe place to be yourself and encourage an atmosphere where people can get to know each other. We see a wide range of players at the store, from 10-year-olds to people in their mid-40s and players who are highly skilled and those who are just learning. Most of the players are 12-25 year-old men, although some women are involved. Greenfield Games has a lot in common with GCC, we’re both very community-oriented.”

Assistant Professor of English Trevor Kearns serves as the Club’s Faculty Advisor. A lifelong gamer, Trevor considers social games to be a healthy, rewarding hobby that uses people’s thinking, social, and communication skills. He said, “We live in a culture obsessed with work. Work in the modern sense does not define humanity, our capacity for play is what defines humanity. The whole breadth of arts, sports, and games are play and where people really live is in their play, whatever form it takes. What it means to be human is to imagine. Gaming affirms our essential humanity and our capacity for imagination.”

Chad agrees, saying, “Social gaming is about imagination, acceptance, and goodwill. Society in general could learn a lot from social gamers.”

For information about the Social Gaming Club, attend a meeting or contact Trevor Kearns at kearnst@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82