Gaming: Helpful or Harmful?
by Jacob Aronoff on Friday, September 19th, 2014
In the past few years, video gaming has become a prevalent aspect of many students’ lives at Milton. Among the male dorms, students regularly engage in competitions within multiplayer online role playing games such as World of Warcraft (WoW), Call of Duty (COD), and Defense of the Ancients (DotA). Currently, however, the most popular and widespread video game is League of Legends (LoL), with multiple male dorms such as Wolcott and Forbes competing in online tournaments.
With some students spending upwards of two hours a night playing video games, it is understandable that some faculty are concerned that video games affect a student’s performance. As Maggie O’Hanlon (III) said, when a student plays video games, “[he doesn’t] really have time for school work and sports as well as other activities.” However, she has not “really noticed people playing video games that often during the academic day” – something that would be a sign of a much larger issue.
Video games are not exclusively played by boarders. Day student Nick Gistis (IV) also enjoys playing video games “8-14 hours every week on average.” However, he, like many other students, “won’t play until all of his homework has been completed.” In addition, he claimed he uses “the idea of playing video games as an incentive to finish homework,” as gaming “is always something to look forward to.” In other words, have the negative aspects of video games been dramatized in recent culture? Some students said that gaming shapes an enormous component of many boarders’ dorm-life. Although many boarders play a variety of games, boarders said that League of Legends has had the largest impact on social interaction between boarders, and some even recognize the game as a sport.
League of Legends is a game that involves two teams of five players, competing to destroy the other team’s “base crystal” while protecting their own. LoL is not only popular in the Milton community but also worldwide. Some “professional” LoL players win hundreds of thousands of dollars annually when they compete in organized competitions and leagues known as “e-sports.” In many countries, thousands of LoL fans pour into televised stadiums and watch their favorite players compete on the big screen. Video games, in other words, are more than just sources of incentive or of community bonding – they can be sources of livelihood.
At Milton, many LoL players consider Adrian Chang (I), a boarder in Wolcott, and Barry Luo (I), a boarder in Norris, to be the best at the game.
Adrian first started playing in the summer between eighth and ninth grade. He says, “It’s a dream to go pro, because one can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.” Adrian is currently ranked Platinum 4, an incredibly sought-after division within LoL, and at one time has been ranked as high as Platinum 1, an even more prestigious title. He averages 1-2 hours of play time a day; however, sometimes it reaches upwards of 4 hours. He adds, “My grades are fine because I try to get work done first and then play.”
In the previous school year, there were many competitions held between the dorms, most notably between Forbes and Wolcott. After Wolcott lost the inter-dorm dodgeball championship to Forbes, they challenged Forbes to a 5v5 game online. Both dorms assembled their best teams and Wolcott was, ultimately, victorious.
Adrian believes that LoL brings members of the dorm closer together: “It’s actually pretty good for dorm bonding, especially when we’re playing 5v5 just in the dorm. In most sports, we play [against] each other, but in this [game], we play together.” He claims that “LoL is the biggest [game] on campus” and that “it’s also the most inclusive because [one] can play anywhere from 1-10 people.” Adrian has even coached some of the younger boarders, and he believes the game provides a great way to meet new kids and produce lasting memories.
At the end of the summer, Adrian and a few other Wolcott borders entered an international high school LoL competition, playing once or twice a week. After having won a handful of matches, however, they abandoned the tournament because it was “difficult to juggle playing every week and doing school work.” Nevertheless, Adrian and his team received some prize money and respect among the LoL community at Milton.
Although many would argue that video games distract a student from his schoolwork, students argue that League of Legends and other video games have created lasting friendships and memories. The art of playing video games is one that can be learned at Milton Academy, if you know where to look, just like writing and athletics. Far from being the unhealthy, life-wasting addiction that some might argue video games to be, at Milton Academy they can play the role of an outlet, a team-bonding exercise, an incentive, or even a viable profession.
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