Chemeketa: A haven for gaming and gamers
By Alvin Wilson – Photos By Brad Bakke
Everybody feels the need to connect.
Fortunately for Chemeketa students, Nintendo has provided yet another opportunity to reach out and meet new people.
It’s called StreetPass.
StreetPass is a feature of the Nintendo DS, Nintendo’s newest portable gaming device. It allows users to wirelessly exchange greetings and data with other users, simply by walking near them.
Communities such as the StreetPass users at Chemeketa are appearing on college campuses across the world.
“I think it is important to care about gaming communities. … They are an emerging social group that is going to become increasingly more relevant,” Adam Privitera, a DS user and a Chemeketa psychology instructor, said.
“Groups establish norms and develop their own culture. These are things that are worth paying attention to because someone outside of this group would be better prepared to interact with them if somewhat knowledgeable about the group.”
StreetPass works like this:
Users turns on their Nintendo DS;
Once it is on, they close it to enable the sleep mode;
Once in sleep mode, the DS will be open to receive and send information via StreetPass.
When two users pass each other, they pass along data in the form of an avatar. This avatar is called a Mii.
When users sees the green light indicating that they’ve received a StreetPass, they can check to see who they’ve passed and also what games those people have been playing.
“When you see that green light turn on, it’s like a hand waving at you,” Drew Adams, a first-year Chemeketa student, said.
According to Privitera, StreetPass opens up a new dimension to gaming and can even help students who are feeling secluded or stressed.
“Any positive social support can potentially help buffer the effects of stress,” he said. “Being isolated is bad. Engaging in positive social interaction is good. The StreetPass feature provides a highly social and interactive environment, which is just a good thing in general.”
Miguel A. Navarro, a second-year computer science major and aspiring game designer, said that gaming could be helpful.
“I think it’s a great way to relieve stress,” he said. “If you’re feeling really stressed, like you have a test or something, it’s great to just pop into a game and relax.”
Navarro has gotten 80 or more StreetPasses from Chemeketa.
“Starting out in college, it’s a great way to reach out,” he said. “If you feel scared and alone, you look down, see a StreetPass, and realize, ‘Hey, there’s a community here. I’m not alone.’”
Reaching out is the important aspect of this technology, according to Privitera.
“We don’t really have a history of being the most social people,” he said of gamers. “Video games can be like an icebreaker for an interaction that wouldn’t normally happen.”
Navarro said he had experienced icebreaking moments with his DS.
“I’ve seen weird looks from people who see me playing,” he said. “But a lot of the reactions I’ve gotten have been, ‘Oh, what games do you have?’ Or, ‘You’re so lucky to have that game. How is it?’”
Erik Canady, a first-year student, said, “I get up to five StreetPasses on a bad day and up to 20 on a good day. Total, I’ve passed 35 or more individual people just at Chemeketa.”
Canady said he uses StreetPass as a way to progress through his games.
“I bring it to class mostly to fill my Mii Plaza,” he said in reference to an area in the DS where all of the Miis that a user has passed are sent.
“The more people I have in my Mii plaza, the easier it is to complete the puzzles in the Mii plaza. I also bring it to class to get more secret bases in my Pokemon game,” Canady said.
Privitera said the StreetPass feature was a good thing for students to use.
“Just because it increases social interaction, and can create some sort of bonds, it’s mostly a good thing,” he said. “I can’t think of how it could be negative, unless you skip class to go play video games.”
More information about StreetPass and the DS can be found by checking out the Nintendo website. It costs $200.