Ever since the mid-1980s, the video game industry has seen a meteoric rise in cultural significance and popularity. What started as a niche—and at one point may have ceased to exist altogether—has now become a multimillion-dollar industry spanning across the entire globe. Video games are here to stay, and their fanbase has cemented them as being an important medium in our culture.
Despite all this, gamers are typically associated with stereotypes involving insecurity, social awkwardness and outright laziness. This could not be further from the truth, as gamers have shown they are passionate and engaged. For the on-campus club Montclair University Gamers (MUG), this vibe of togetherness certainly rings true.
Robert McCreadie, one of the club’s main administrators, disagrees with the common stereotypes given to gamers.
“Funny thing I should mention about gamers being deemed as ‘lazy’ [is that] I am currently developing a weeklong camp at the YMCA for video game strategies,” said McCreadie, a sophomore English major. “I think that is proof enough to break the stereotype.”
Upon initial inspection, MUG is the opposite of what you would expect from a typical organization. It somewhat lacks the same tightly organized and antiseptic environment of a traditional gathering. Instead, televisions and gaming consoles can be found spread across the room, wires and connection cords aplenty. Everyone signs in and listens to a few announcements before joining together to play a myriad of games.
“What made me want to be part of MUG was definitely the people,” McCreadie said. “I truly love video games, so I think any gaming club would have done the job, but there is something special about MUG. Every event and meeting I am ecstatic to see members, whether they be new or going [into] their fourth year or further.”
MUG is a club open to Montclair State students that meets at least two times a week. Each week, the activities that take place vary. Most weeks the club’s general meetings, which take place on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. in University Hall 1020, serve simply as a spot for friends to come and play various multiplayer games, like “Rock Band 4,” “Super Smash Bros.” and any of the many entries in the “Mario Party” or “Call of Duty” series. On top of that, members are encouraged to bring their own favorite games.
There are also card games and board games played, as this semester has seen them become quite popular. You might find people playing “Cards Against Humanity,” a game centered around creating funny, often inappropriate euphemisms involving popular phrases, celebrities and places.
On certain days, however, there are special themes that MUG throws into the mix. One of these was Anime Game Night from early last month, where games about famous anime properties like “Dragonball” and “Persona” were featured. There was also a tournament bracket for the recently released “Dragonball FighterZ” for those looking for some competition.
Most recently, the club had a 48-hour streaming marathon for the charity called Child’s Play. People were able to follow along with the marathon on their Twitch channel and had the option to stop by the Red Hawk Nest from March 9 to 11.
One of the upcoming events planned for later on in the semester includes a video game-themed escape room, which is essentially a trivia night to test your gaming knowledge.
“This semester is an exciting one,” McCreadie said. “We are definitely deviating quite a bit from the regular tournaments, so I think there will be something for everyone.”
One student, sophomore political science major David Carozza, is a newcomer to the organization and already feels like it is a perfect fit for him.
“I love video games, and this feels like a place where I can do just that without any limits or stigma attached to it,” Carozza said. “I can be a bit shy, and this gives me a vehicle to start to get to know people with since I know everyone here shares the same passion for games.”
Passion is something that everyone in the MUG community shares, as everything involving video games and the nerd culture surrounding them is celebrated. One particular moment involving McCreadie setting up a drum attachment for an obscure music-rhythm game called “Taiko Drum Master” might be the perfect summation of this passion.
“They have ‘Rock the Dragon,'” McCreadie said, referring to the popular opening theme song associated with the “Dragonball Z” series.
Soon this title becomes the talk of the room, as a crowd slowly begins forming around McCreadie to watch and chant alongside the popular tune.
At their meetings, excitement can be felt channeling through the air like everyone belongs on the same team. The people of the MUG community might each have wildly different backgrounds, but they all speak the same, gamer-friendly language.
“We’re like a big family, and I’m happy to have found a home away from home,” McCreadie said.