Rider provides countless activities for students. Teams and organizations — ranging from the rock climbing of the Adventure Club to the wit-battling of the Chess Club — provide students with the tools and environments to do what they love. While it may seem like the university is covering all bases, it is under-serving one surprisingly large demographic, our gaming community.
All that Rider has provided students with in the way of games is a half-baked setup in our SRC. While the university does offer current-generation consoles (Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii), the selection of games is extremely poor. Although there are 24 titles for Xbox, the majority are games one could find in a value bin, and the most recent are NBA 2K10 and Madden ’10 (from six months ago). Even worse is the PS3 selection — only five titles, including repeats of games that Rider owns for Xbox. The Wii collection is bogged down with many low-budget titles such as Excite Truck, Carnival Games and Dancing with the Stars. You can buy any of those at ShopRite for under $20.
The campus wants to make everyone feel as though Rider is keeping up with new games, but purchases are made only after a number of people have written formal requests that are processed every few months. This makes it hard to keep up with the best games, considering that at least one or two triple-A titles are released every month.
In every dormitory, in every hallway, it is easy to find at least one room that houses a console, showing that the interest in gaming is widespread. On my floor in Omega House, there are 21 consoles. We’re talking hundreds campuswide, including Westminster. Why shouldn’t Rider capitalize on (or at least serve) this community better?
As things stand, the most centralized gaming event on campus is provided by the Japanese Pop Culture Society at its end-of-semester tournament. This is a competitive event where students square off against one another for prizes. The event has made such an impression that is has become the society’s most-anticipated activity.
It would take so little for Rider to satisfy the needs of its gamers. For a few hundred dollars, the university would be able to provide a place where gamers could feel at home. By upgrading the stock of games, or getting involved with a company such as GameFly to rent them, the campus could always have the latest games on hand without spending a fortune. GameFly memberships start at under $200 a year for a new game each month.
Another simple improvement could be campus-sponsored tournaments. Possibly on a monthly or weekly basis, the campus could run matches for different types of games (fighting games like Street Fighter, racing games like Need for Speed Shift, sports games like FIFA ’10 or Madden ’10). Winners could receive games or gift cards.
These small changes would provide Rider with a solid way to connect with a group of students who might otherwise be a bit detached from campus life. A little attention would help those who are interested to meet and bond with others who love the same things and make many students’ campus experience more fun and exciting. Wouldn’t that enrich the whole educational experience?
Justin Scerbo, a senior journalism major, is a game critic accredited by the Electronic Software Association.