Whitman Starcraft II players challenge gamer stereotypes

Clara Bartlett

Illustration: Ruth Hwang

You’ll see them battling for guts and glory, not on the basketball court or behind a debate lectern, but over a video game console. Officially known as the Whitman College Collegiate Starleague Team, the chief function of the Starcraft team is to represent Whitman College in the Collegiate StarLeague, an association of approximately 250 colleges in the United States and Canada who competitively play Starcraft II.

The uninitiated, or noob, may be wondering exactly what Starcraft II is. Team member senior Sam Lundberg explained the video game’s basic premise.

“On the aesthetic side, Starcraft II is an epic battle between crafty and resourceful humans of the Terran, the highly advanced and enigmatic Protoss aliens, and the endless legions of bloodthirsty, mindless insectoid killers of the Zerg Swarm,” said Lundberg. “More practically, SCII is a game of resource management.”

His fellow Starcraft team member first-year Natty Baird elaborated on the game’s objectives.

“Though most people compare Starcraft to chess, I feel that the two games work very differently,” said Baird. “In chess, you begin with the maximum amount of  pieces  you can control, while in Starcraft, you start with a minimum amount of economy, pieces and  territory and build up all of these over the course of the match. It’s a game of speed, strategy and mind games.”

“It’s not a game that you can mindlessly play through until you reach the end,” explained senior Kayla Hegedus, president and coordinator of the Whitman’s CSL team. “Instead, it requires you to be 100 percent focused for every single game, and there’s never an end, because there’s always room for improvement.”

While competitive gaming differs from traditional sports in many ways, the rush of the match is still present. Sophomore Jamie “Exterminator” Edison described the intensity of e-game competition.

“You get really tense, the adrenaline starts pumping and you get so focused on winning the game, you can’t think of anything except what you’re doing right then and there,” said Edison. “The emotional high you get from winning that kind of game is nearly unparalleled, especially not by something so seemingly mundane.”

Starcraft II and its players differ from stereotypical gaming norms in a variety of ways, putting priority on high standards of courtesy and engagement, both within the gaming community and outside of it.

“Starcraft is a relatively polite game,” explained Hegedus. “Whereas other games will have trolls and be full of insulting and offensive language, Starcraft players wish each other ‘glhf’ [good luck, have fun] at the beginning of the game and ‘gg’ [good game] at the end.”

“[The stereotype of a gamer is a] dude sitting in his room, never talking to anybody except his friends and fiancé   from his World of Warcraft guild, sitting in his computer chair all day eating Hot Pockets and drinking Mountain Dew, never going outside to actually socialize with real people, because real people are scary and he’s socially awkward,” said Edison. “On the surface, one might say that I fit the stereotype, and probably the same could be said for the rest of the Starcraft team, but when you actually look deeper into these people’s lives, it’s pretty easy to see that we don’t fit the profile.”