Today I underwent a troubling breakup in a long-term relationship, especially by Wes standards. We spent long amounts of time together the first semester, bonding as we listened to Frank Ocean. I won’t lie, we faced some serious challenges. Swearing, aggressive jokes, rants, and shouting at each other raised alarm to casual bystanders, and our patience with each other frayed. Common phrases exchanged after hangouts included “I hate you,” or “never come back here.” And yet, through it all, we spent at least five days a week together since our fateful meeting in early September. However, when it became clear the bond had weakened, I reassessed the relationship and determined I needed out. The three of us unceremoniously parted ways, agreeing to meet together only a few days a week, for the health of all parties involved. My friend Tyler and I decided enough was enough, and slid the Playstation 4 game console, along with FIFA 17 and NBA 2K18, back into the dresser.
My video game playing days stretch back to the release of the Game Boy Advance SP, a small, bulky console released in March of 2003. My parents purchased me two games, Pokémon Leafgreen and Pokémon Sapphire. I recall spending hours every day training my Pokémon and late nights battling my brothers and friends. It served as an escape from work throughout my elementary and middle school years until the discovery of a fix far more satisfying, the FIFA franchise. The game, licensed by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), gives a realistic take on the game of soccer and offers players full control of a range of teams in England, France, Spain, and other nations across the world. For a soccer fan, the game was a necessity. For a soccer player? If you failed in a challenge against your teammates, you lost pride, and a bit of respect. Many FIFA nights between my younger brothers and I ended in fights with allegations of cheating, and games with friends ended in similar ways. Sounds terrible. And the clash of male testosterone didn’t end there. Upon a visit to my brother’s apartment at University of Vermont, I found out he had clashed with his roommates over FIFA, and one of his roommates failed out of school after missing too much class from his video game consumption. As a sophomore in high school I promised to never develop into the college kid obsessed with video games and not class.
And yet here I was. Tyler and I sprinted to the Nics lounge to set up the Playstation. My TV broke the week prior, but that wouldn’t stop us from our FIFA fix. It was 12:30 p.m., and he planned on meeting with his advisor at 1:20.
“Pretty sure we can fit in three games,” he gasps.
“Yeah, let’s hustle though.”
Four games later, with Tyler late to his meeting and me hustling to Calc, I made my choice. Enough was enough. I sent Tyler a cryptic text.
“I have a reform proposal.”
We met in our usual FIFA spot in Nics lounge, and I informed him that our binge habits needed fixing. I proposed we limit ourselves to a weekly best of seven series in order to keep getting enjoyment in a sustainable way. Though he took the news as a form of breakup, we decided it to be for the better.
People often scoff at college-aged men playing video games. When I asked a few of my female friends of their impression of the activity, I heard responses such as “I don’t get the obsession men have with them,” or “seems like a major waste of time.” Watchful parents and baby-boomers chastise children for spending too much time indoors and ignoring the world around them. While I understand these perspectives to an extent, grabbing a controller offers a healthy release of stress and competitiveness. Thirty minutes of games leave me feeling upbeat and energized due to the high competitiveness between me and my friends. The casual setting of a game provides an excellent vehicle for conservation, and I’ve engaged in multiple thought-provoking conversations while racing down the sidelines with Kylian Mbappé, or celebrating a banger with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The pastime draws people from different crowds who might not befriend each other otherwise, as I’ve learned from the number of kids who come and go from the lounge while I’m playing on the TV.
While Wesleyan takes pride in its high expectations, heavy workloads, and intense students, many students seek counterproductive ways to relieve their burden at one of the most stressful schools in the country. These include cigarette usage and frequent drinking, which provide temporary stress relief but have well-known consequences, resulting in Wes students in the hospital.
After a brief respite from my FIFA addiction, I chose to play in select time slots to ensure my academics received the attention they deserve. With moderation, the positive effects on my health provide strong incentive to continue my gaming ways. After marathon study sessions or a lecture that seemed unending, a 30-minute showdown between Arsenal and Tottenham can be a well-needed change of pace. If you ever feel like seeing stress leaving someone’s body, swing by the lounge at Nics around 1:00 p.m. each day and watch me scream at Giroud for his incompetence in front of the net.
Jack Leger is a member of the class of 2021. Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.