Swords, spells and homework


EWU Students balance gaming and schooling

by Al Stover and Christina Jordan
For The Easterner
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EWU student Kelli Crawford is many things, including an elementary education major, a black belt in karate and a former member of ASEWU’s legislative branch.

On Sunday afternoons, she is an elven aristocrat named Evoline who travels with a band of adventurers.

Crawford is one of many EWU students who use gaming as a hobby while balancing it with their classwork.

Crawford has been playing role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, a game owned by Wizards of the Coast, for seven years. She began playing with high school friend Marty Newell-Large, who currently acts as the dungeon master for Crawford’s group.

Both Crawford and Newell-Large enjoy the social aspect of the game, as well as the creativity that goes into playing the game.

“You can get everyone involved,” Crawford said. “It’s just fun to create your own world, explore and write your own stories.”

Morgan Garratt is a literary studies major who has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since she was 14 years old.

She has also played other role-playing games such as a game based off of Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” novels.

For Garratt, creating and playing a character in the game allows her to use her imagination to do things she normally would not do in real life, as well as giving her an opportunity to explore different aspects of her personality.

Garratt and her group has the policy of putting school first.

With the exception of finals week and the week before, Garratt and her group set aside every Saturday for gaming sessions.

“We start at 3 p.m. and go to late at night and everybody rotates on dinners,” Garratt said. “It’s not just when we are playing. It’s like a little community.”

Role-playing has also helped Garratt improve her math skills, think on her feet and has helped her become more tolerant of other people and their behavior.

“Gaming groups are full of drastically different people with [individual] personalities,” Garratt said. “You can’t be the sore thumb and you have to forgive other people for their transgressions against you, which sometimes are gratuitous, like when spilling liquids on $40 plus books. It’s something that is universal to life.”

For Crawford, playing Dungeons and Dragons has given her the confidence to try new things.

“It [also] helps build up a sense of teamwork and your sense of adventure,” Crawford said.

In addition to playing with her long-time friends, Crawford has introduced new players to the game.

Justin Callendar and Tim Diehl are two members of Crawford’s group who are playing in their first campaign. They have worked it out to where Callendar’s character Gunther, who is a two-foot tall halfling, sits on the shoulder of Diehl’s character Ulrich, who is seven-and-a-half feet tall.

“What we’re really looking for is to [Gunther] has a lance, so when I charge somebody he can lance them and [then] I can attack them,” Diehl said.

Whether it is new or experienced players, Crawford enjoys the connection that develops between the group after several adventures.

“When you get the bond from doing all [of] the ridiculous things, it’s a good way to make new friends and to get closer with the friends you already have,” Crawford said.

Card games

Brady Peneton is a graduate student studying English literature who plays Magic the Gathering, a strategy card game. He received his first pack of cards in his sophomore year at Eastern.

“The [residence halls] were handing out free packs of Magic cards to every person moving in,” said Peneton. “I was looking through them and I made a deck out of those cards. I started playing with some people and got into it.”

What Peneton enjoys about the game is that he gets to pretend he is a powerful mage summoning creatures and throwing fireballs.

“I like to have a really good imagination,” Peneton said.

Peneton moved from playing in the residence halls to playing in the PUB. He also holds large-format tournaments at his apartment.

Computer games

In addition to the students who participate in role-playing games, several students can be found playing computer games in the Dungeon, which is across from Eagles Espresso, or the Cyber Cafe on the second floor. One of the more popular computer games is League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena game.

Glen Ryan, a computer science major, is working towards playing League of Legends at a professional level.

Ryan enjoys playing with other students in the PUB. There are between 20 to 30 people playing League of Legends at one time.

“You can just talk to all of your teammates and get that social aspect of it down,” Ryan said.

According to Ryan, there are probably more students who play the game than they know because not everyone knows about the Dungeon.

Gamer’s Club

For students who are looking to connect with other gamers on campus, there is the EWU Gamer’s Club.

According to Club President Bryan Smith, the purpose of the club is to “facilitate the gamer’s ability to find people to play these games with.”

Smith is in charge of setting up events for the club. There are Magic tournaments in coordination with Wizards of the Coast, a gaming company based in Seattle, Wash. The club is sponsored by the company and receives card packs, playmats, deck boxes and card sleeves for the winners of the tournaments.

Mason Riney said he participated in a weekly game night with other students in the PUB.

“I played Warhammer 40K with a small group of friends,” said Riney. “I loved having a set night that I could get together with other gamers and even if we were not playing, we would watch other games in progress and talk to each other about gaming.”