By JONATHAN MALLON
It’s an overcast day outside the window of room 2207, a classroom inside the Academic II building of SUNY Rockland Community College. It’s also 12:30 pm on a Tuesday, December 4, which means the school’s Common Hour is beginning, a time in which students congregate with their friends either by themselves or in campus clubs. By this time, several students have entered the room, including Devon Boscio, the president of the club. While he begins setting up his PlayStation 3 at the television in the corner of the classroom with the help of some other students, 2 others recreationally draw on the chalkboard at the front of the room, and the remaining students converse with each other.
This happens before the college’s Video Game and Anime Club officially begins.
The SUNY RCC Video Game and Anime Club is a club that specializes in activities involving video games and Japanese animation. It is one of over “40 student clubs/organizations, which focus on performing arts, physical health, religious, political or special interests,” according to RCC’s Student Handbook for the 2012-2013 academic year.
“The club is about meeting new people, understanding how video games and anime are, how they work, and exploring new things,” said President Boscio, 24, who is also President of the club.
Reports by newspapers like USA Today report that sales of video games in 2012 have been decreasing, and according to the Electronic Software Association’s 2012 report, “Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry,” sales have been slightly decreasing since 2011. Despite the decrease, the industry has still made billions of dollars on games in different formats in 2011, while the top year for sales is still 2010.
A Day at the Club
By the time the club starts, a little after 12:30 pm, there are 10 people in the room, including the President. He begins by discussing an upcoming tournament for the video game “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3”, including details on bringing food for the tournament as well as getting the grand prize of the tournament; an Xbox 360 bundled with the game “Skylanders”. During this time, some members are conversing, but not many.
After addressing the tournament, President Boscio leaves the remaining time open for people to show videos on the internet. One club member shows a video about unknown information regarding different Mario games, in which the club crowd rose to around 20 people. Afterwards, another member shows an episode of “Dragon Ball Z” that was featured on a website. During the time of the episode, members begin making some friendly fun about the show, such as its logic and character traits. One such argument arises when a main character of the show uses a type of energy blast to destroy the enemy, in which the blast continues to move outside of Earth’s orbit into space.
Another member begins showing pictures after the episode, and then another member shows fan-made internet videos after that. In the meantime, some members begin playing “Budokai 3” on the PS3 in the room’s corner. Shortly before 1:30 pm, the PS3 begins to get packed, and members begin leaving the room.
ESA’s statistics on those who plays games
According to the ESA’s report, “The average U.S Household owns at least one dedicated game console, PC, or smartphone.” Specifically with game consoles, the ESA found that 49 percent of U.S households “own a dedicated game console, and those that do own an average of 2.”
Of the people surveyed in the report, 42 percent “of game players believe their computer and video games give them the most value for their money, compared with DVD’s, music or going out to the movies.” The report also found a few reasons for why “gamers purchase a computer or video games: quality of game graphics, an interesting storyline, a sequel to a favorite game,” or “word of mouth.”
According to the report’s statistics, the video game business made $16.6 billion in 2011, when combining sales of both video games, computer games and a section of sales listed as “other delivery formats” (“subscriptions, digital full games, digital add-on content, mobile apps, social network gaming and other physical delivery.”). The year with the most sales across all formats was in 2010, when the industry counted $16.9 billion.
“In terms of popularity,” said Stephen P. Jablonsky, Associate Professor of Digital Media at Ramapo College of New Jersey, “my opinion on it is that the games are more realistic and filmic. The other side of that is part of the decline about that in the last year has a lot to do with cell phones.” Jablonsky explained that the rise of “casual gaming, such as ‘Angry Birds’ and ‘Words with Friends’, has basically offered competition to the major game industry.”
Compared with other activities, such as board games, “video games give you immediate feedback, where traditional games require more patience,” according to Jablonsky.
President Boscio explained that the club had held four events. One of those events was a movie night, he said, where people watch an anime movie during the movie nights.
Other events hosted by the club included video game tournaments, where the type of game played during the club’s tournaments were fighting games. President Boscio explained some of the games played at the tournaments, including “’Tekken Tag Tournament 2’ and ‘Persona 4 Arena’”.
For player turnout at the tournaments, “Our tournaments have been an up-and-down roller coaster because of the weather,” he said. “We’ve gotten some people. It’s been alright. We’ve got a few people for ‘Tekken Tag Tournament 2’, and grand prize was an Xbox 360.”
On Wednesday, December 5th, the club hosted a “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3” tournament. “Tournament went pretty well,” said President Boscio one week later. “Everyone had a good time.”
The popularity of anime and manga, and club members’ interest in it
No statistic could be found regarding the rise of anime and manga through sales, but news reports, such as a 2006 Associated Press article on the “Today” arts section on msnbc.msn.com, have covered it’s rise in popularity. According to the article, “From Hayao Miyazaki’s award-winning fantasy flick ‘Spirited Away’ to the violent voyeurism of ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ kiddie fare such as ‘Pokemon,’ TV shows on cable’s Adult Swim and video game offshoots such as ‘Final Fantasy,’ anime has spread its tentacles across American culture.”
Manga, or “the comic book’s richly illustrated Japanese cousin,” according to a 2006 article by Coco Masters on time.com, is also a success in the U.S. “A $180 million market in 2005, U.S manga is quickly getting comfortable tucked under the arms of young readers, and major publishing houses are rushing into the category,” the article said.
“I would say the increase has to do with time and access,” said Jablonsky, “and more things being produced for an American audience.”
“I’ve watched a lot of Asian cinema over the years, and the storytelling is very different,” he explained. “Narrative structure has been a huge barrier for Western audiences.”
“I preferred cartoons to anything else,” said Craig Thompson, 19, a student at RCC,” because I like the fact that animation, with animation, the possibilities are endless.”
“I got into anime because I got into ‘Dragonball Z’,” said Ricardo Torres, 20, a student at RCC, “and it lead to other stuff. Then it went to ‘Yu Yu Hakusho’, and ever since, I discovered it was called anime, and I just got into it.”
Reasons people go to the club
People have been coming to the club for similar reasons. “I started coming into the club when my sister Mary-Christine came into the club,” said President Boscio. He said his sister took classes at RCC and passed on information about the club to him.
“I heard about it for a year,” Thompson, “and after the beginning of the third semester, I walked in on a meeting and it pretty much hit all the elements I expected it to have, because they show an anime, they show an episode of an anime, and they show video game YouTube videos.” For those videos, he referred to videos of the Angry Video Game Nerd and JohnTron.
“After that,” he said, “I kept going to meetings, and people were really nice, and through them I learned about new video games and anime series.”
“I went to it in high school,” said Torres. “I discovered it through the agenda pamphlets, and I found out what room it was in. I think I found it in club fair too.”
Noel F. Anglero, 22, student at RCC, became interested in the club through President Boscio. “I like video games and anime,” said Anglero, “and also see other people and what they like and dislike and exchange information.”
SOUNDSLIDES: Watch one day in the club in pictures.