Tournaments and a Starship: St Andrews’ Gaming Society

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Formed in 2011, the Gaming Society has levelled up quickly in terms of both popularity and membership. The Saint managed to get President Cameron McNicol, Treasurer Danielle Abel and Vice President Colin Duff, to put down their controllers and talk to us about the society, its success, and gaming in St Andrews.

The Saint: Can you tell us a bit about Gaming Society?
Cameron McNicol: “The aim of our society, as stated in our constitution, is ‘To celebrate video gaming, to bring together like-minded gamers and to introduce a wider range of university students to gaming’. We do this by having fortnightly events where we set up multiple consoles and projectors or use PC over LAN. We have various themed nights over the year to appeal to different tastes. In the past, these have included themes such as Nintendo, fighting, strategy and platform games and first-person shooter games. We try and offer a good balance between casual and competitive gaming. While most of our events are relaxed, we typically start and end the semester with various tournaments. Either way, we aim to create a sociable atmosphere for everyone involved.”

TS: How popular do you feel video gaming is in St Andrews?
CM: “Gaming is more popular than ever. We have all heard about the rapid growth of the industry, and it can definitely be seen in the increased attendance at our events and the increased enthusiasm of our members, as well as around the town. It is not unusual to see several people a day wearing gaming related clothing, discussing the next upcoming big release or gaming away on their phones. Gaming continues to have an increasing cultural impact. The majority of the population now owns smartphones, which are being marketed more and more around their gaming capabilities. Who hasn’t spent hours being frustrated by that one level in Angry Birds, or had their will tested by Flappy Bird? This is where we come in: we aim to provide a place for people with common interests to socialise and game!”
What has been the highlight of the society since its foundation?

CM: “The highlight for me has been seeing the society grow from year
to year, and all the new friends I’ve made from it. I’m overwhelmed every year by the attendance at our events and the enthusiasm of the members; it’s wonderful to meet so many like-minded, friendly people.”

Danielle Abel: “For me, any one-on-one tournament match, in any game, is a highlight. That moment where the game is so close, and the adrenaline starts pumping is amazing. A second later it’s over, and you smile and shake hands with your opponent and say, ‘good game’.”

Colin Duff: “Linking 16 PCs and two projectors to turn a venue into the bridge of a starship was definitely a highlight. Our ship was always doomed, but I’ve never had more fun being shot out of the sky whilst frantically shouting at my friends next to me to re-route all power to the shields.”

TS: Where would you like to take the Gaming Soc in the future?
CM: “I want to continue to build on the great work we have carried out since being founded. I want to hold bigger events, have more variety in events, more charity events and more frequent events. Ultimately, societies are about the members, and making friends with like-minded people, so I want to create the perfect medium by making the society as sociable and fun as possible.”

TS: What, in your opinion, is the greatest tournament game of all time?
CM: “For our society at least, I would say the best tournament games are either Super Smash Bros, or Mario Kart. Smash. The competitive scene here is great, and nothing quite matches the tension of those one-on-one matches. However, the game is still accessible and inviting to new players. Mario Kart is a favourite as well, as everyone has played at least once. Therefore, the game is open to all gamers, regardless of their personal genre preference, and the races always tend to be close, making it a tense, yet fun game to play.”

TS: What’s your favourite game of all time?
CM: “For me personally, it has to be Halo. I adore everything about the game. It was one of the first games I ever played against my friends, so there is a huge nostalgia factor to it, accompanied by the overarching story of the saga, which is amazing. For me, nothing beats the manic multiplayer fun of Halo, and it is certainly one of the society’s most popular games, as it is just sheer fun.”

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