By Eric Bedner
While the large group of gamers, seated at the couches in the Student Center, have found their niche in society, they often find it difficult to escape the similar labels they experienced in high school.
“There was an immediate connection,” said senior, Patrick Willkinson, a Communications major. Willkinson’s sentiment is shared with nearly all of the so-called “couch people,” who more often than not, were considered by others to be outcasts in their respective high schools.
“In high school I didn’t have many friends, and now I have a ton of friends who all have similar interests,” said junior, Emily Dombroski, a Biology major.
The interest in numerous computer and console games is a contributing factor to the comradery in the group, but Magic: The Gathering is the most popular game, by far. Magic, the first game of its kind, is a card based game, derived from other fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, with approximately 12 million players worldwide.
There are some commonalities among the group members. One being that although they played the game while they were in high school, they rarely, if ever, played where their peers could see them. Many went to card shops or events to avoid the ridicule they may have received otherwise.
Junior, Frank Gialluca, a psychology major, says he is one of the few exceptions. While attending University High School of Science and Engineering, Gialluca had a group of friends that he would play with, and said that 99 percent of people in my high school played Magic.
Magic players and other gamers were clearly far more accepted at his high school. Again, this is the exception.
In general, people noticed the “couchies” very early on in their career at CCSU. Their position in the Student Center makes them hard to miss to passersby, and gives those with similar interests a wide, accepting door to walk through.
Bethany Kiefer, a student at Tunxis Community College, met her boyfriend, senior, Nick Lowe, a biology major, at the couches. They have been going out for two years, and he taught her to play Magic.
“At some point in our lives, we didn’t belong anywhere,” said Kiefer. Even in their group there are cliques. According to the group, some of the complaints were that people could be loud and disrespectful, leaving large amounts of trash on the tables, only to be cleaned every night by the custodians.
Even though, at times, there may be some personality conflicts, the ridicule many of the “couchies” have experienced affords them empathy.
“They come in because they don’t fit in,” said Kiefer. “And we don’t want to push them away.”
The CCSU Memes Facebook page is a place where the term “couch critters” is often used. The amount of posts mocking the group are too numerous to count. They include various posts implying that the “couchies” are dirty, odorous people, and Jonathan Pare claims that he left the University to avoid such mockery.
While there are minor conflicts, they tend to be ended relatively quickly. There are, however, exceptions, such as the debate that started over who was the best captain of the Enterprise. The jury is still out.
Often the so-called “nerds,” people criticized for their intellect, are ostracized from “mainstream” society, affording them the ability to empathize with others. Their relative isolation can also help them to hone their particular skills, in the same way it enabled Bill Gates, the king of the nerds, to write the program for Windows. Time will tell who the outcasts of society truly are.