It may be the student next to you in chemistry class or the girl you always see on your floor of the residence hall. They can be everywhere and nowhere at once. Traditionally, they spend their time with their hands on a joystick or their minds deep within a role-playing game, lost in some foreign world.
Who are “they?” I’m referring to the dorks of the world, or more specifically, of Temple. They are video game fanatics, comic book readers and the elite few who know what a 20-sided die looks like. The video game industry is set to surpass the movie industry in revenue; sales of game software is a $7 billion market, according to the Entertainment Software Association, the U.S. gaming industry’s trade group based in Washington, D.C. Comic books have been exploding in popularity and in sales with one company, Marvel Comics, seeing its shares the highest in company history. Yet, these people and their culture seem to be non-existent at Temple.
According to the latest available statistics, Temple has more than 25,000 full-time students and 112 student organizations. But no Dungeons & Dragons (a popular role-playing game) clubs, no anime (Japanese cartoon) clubs and no gaming clubs. Oh, dorks of Temple, where art thou?
Occasionally I see a student wearing a Mario Brothers T-shirt, or overhear an argument whether Spider-Man could beat Superman. But for the most part, the dork population is severely underrepresented, and with the amount of students that attend Temple, it seems like commonsense that these people do exist.
The university doesn’t necessarily facilitate these activities, either. It seems an entire culture is being ignored here. For example, the newsstands in the bookstores don’t carry magazines catering to the culture of dorks. Although the stores do feature a wide variety of magazines from Time to High Times, publications such as Inquest (for collectable card games), Wizards (comics), and GamePro (video games) are nowhere to be seen in the two Temple bookstores.
As far as video games around the university, dorks once again get slighted. According to the Yellow Pages, there are no local arcades in North Philadelphia. In fact, aside from a few Chuck E. Cheeses and The Dave and Busters on Delaware Avenue, there are no listed arcades in the city. Granted, the expanded Student Center sports some arcade machines from the old gaming room. But all of them are more than five years old and in shoddy condition.
The Temple curriculum doesn’t exactly cater to gamers either. Perhaps this deters dorks from not attending. The only semblance of video game design classes is the ‘new media’ concentration in the School of Communications and Theater, which features a special topics course on new media. In the course description, it aims to use “computers to construct fictional worlds in 3-D space and/or imaginative digital intervention in real space.” Although, in Temple’s defense, not many public universities offer extensive gaming curriculums.
This is my plea to all the l33t h4x0rz and fraggers: Get out and unite! As a popular ad states: If you’re going to pretend you’re an elf, you might as well do it with other people. Get out. Connect! Make yourself known. And if you happen to be in need of an opponent in Halo or Magic: the Gathering … come get some.
Sean Blanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.