The smell of electricity fills the air while the hum of televisions and computer monitors converse with the whirring of hard drives and CD readers.
Guarana and other supplements from gross amounts of energy drinks pulse through the body’s veins, keeping it awake past its limits, as the thumbs manipulate a joystick placing crosshairs right over the Russian terrorist leaders head. This is the cult phenomenon known as gaming.
To the average person, these gamers are nothing but weirdo’s playing video games, but to each other they are Level 60 Elf Warriors, former champions, top ranked, strategic geniuses and generals, allowed to be anything their imagination allows, and going anywhere a designer can take them.
“Games have become so beautiful now with all the graphics and the environments, its entertainment at its highest,” said Derek Rufo, 20, music composition. “They are almost like a movie that listens to what you yell at it.”
Rufo isn’t a die-hard gamer, but enjoys to play video games for fun once in a while and understands the craze.
“The technology has come so far that games are a lot better now,” Rufo said. “There are no complaints about how they should have done this or that, just good games. It’s become less associated with nerds.”
The stigma of gaming designated to nerds has changed, as it is no longer uncommon on a Friday night to find a group of average teens surrounding a TV screaming and yelling at Madden or sweating under the competitive nature of Halo.
It is also these nights that Howie’s Game Shack is packed with a variety of people from young teens to college students having fun on a playing field that doesn’t care if a person runs like a duck or has asthma, as long as they play the game.
In the 80s people spent countless hours and many quarters trying to beat Pac-Man or Galaxian. The 90s brought the first generation of high graphic consoles that revolutionized gaming and converted more people into gamers.
“Everyone played video games when they were kids,” said Ian Linnemann, 21, engineering. “The only difference between now and then is every year the games just keep getting better and more ridiculous.”
Linneman is an avid gamer who has seen games change and progress over the years.
“The market has changed,” he said. “No longer are video game companies worried about getting a fan base, it’s already there. Instead they are trying simply to appease every aspect of the gamer, and by doing so they are getting more and more customers, because we are a demanding cliental.”
The craze of gaming has been rising for decades and seems to have no signs of slowing down.
In the last ten years people have seen video games turn from flat side scrolling platform games to three dimensional polygon map platforms, to todays near realistic depictions of human forms with smooth shapes. Controls have gone from rectangles with two buttons to ergonmical wireless six axis motion control remotes.
As games become more realistic, the industry is reaching out to new games while still appealing to those who will game for life.