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Wizards, witches, and students … oh my

By Brock Gordon – Photo by Ally Mcvey

Matthew Boyd enjoys a quick game of Yu-Gi-Oh in building 2

Matthew Boyd enjoys a quick game of Yu-Gi-Oh in building 2

“OK, so my zombie attacks your robot dinosaur, ending the match. Take that.”

For most people, that sentence is simple nonsense, or perhaps something that they left behind from playground days.

But it makes perfect sense to the Chemeketa students who play many of the niche card games and video games most every day in Bldg. 2.

Everyone who plays – and many students do – has a different idea about taste, or what’s fun and exciting, or what’s popular, or what’s cool and in.

Action games, role-playing games, card and computer games, puzzle games, and even card games: You name it, and the chances are good that someone at Chemeketa is playing it … right now.

You’ll see them in the lobby or tucked into building corridors around campus, gathered and huddled together, facing off in games of chance, wit, and strategy.

The card games that attract the card-playing faithful include Yugioh, Cardfight Vanguard, and the most popular of all, Magic: The Gathering.

Noe Ponce, a second-year transfer student, is one of the regulars at the card table in Bldg. 2.

“This is our sport,” he says. “Some people play theirs with balls; we play ours with cards.”

A numbers of Ponce’s friends and classmates feel the same way.

“I come here every day before and after my classes,” Devon Phill, a second-year transfer student, says. “It is a great way to kill time with my friends.

“My first class is at 8:30 a.m., and my next class isn’t till 2 in the afternoon. I have lots of time to kill. After math, I come down here and start up a game. It’s around 20 minutes a session, so time just flies for me.”

Ben Mathies is a former Chemeketa student who has parlayed his card-playing college days into a career; he now runs a Salem card shop called Metagaming, on Liberty Road.

One of the things that Mathies likes most about card games is their affordability.

“Anybody can join in with these students,” he says. “To start playing, a deck is only $30 to $50.”

An added benefit is the simplicity: “The rules are quick and simple to pick up,” Mathies says.

Mathies has been playing Magic: The Gathering for more than 10 years and says he has spent upwards of $3,000 on cards and tournament entries.

“It may seem like a large amount of money, but this is for something I plan on doing for my whole life. I consider it a good investment,” he says.

“I’m not a current student, but I have been in and out of Chemeketa four or five times over the past decade. When I was there, not nearly as many people [were] playing down here. I’m glad it has exploded like this.”

The card game fans aren’t the only ones who meet up to play with their friends, of course.

From computer games on laptops, tablets, and smartphones to hand-held systems that require a wi-fi link for interactions with other players around the country or even the world, you’ll find Chemeketa students who are in the middle of the action.

The most popular of these systems seems to be the Nintendo 3DS.

“The DS has so many features that are unlocked by interacting with other people,” Damien Tate, a computer science student, says. “In fact, I would say to get the most out of the system, you would need other people.”

The harmony of the hunt and chase is one of the nice things about Chemeketa’s gaming crowd, whether your taste runs to cards or computers.

“I never have trouble finding someone to sit with here,” Tate says. “I can just sit down and talk to anyone about anything. The people with the cards never push me away because I don’t have a deck. Heck, sometimes someone loans me a deck and coaches me how to play what they are playing.

“I do the same. If someone wants to know about a game, I hand them my 3DS and show them what to do.”

Mathies feels the same way about the friendly atmosphere.

“These are hobbies with social groups already established; it is a great situation for everyone,” he says. “When people are talking about something they are passionate about, even if they are shy, it becomes easier to open up and be social.”

Need a break from your math class for a little mindless relaxation?

Just drop by Bldg. 2 and ask someone to show you the ropes. You’ll get more than a few volunteers.

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