While some students spend their free time training for upcoming sports tournaments or setting up coffee dates with their friends, others invest hours into perfecting their skill shots, gathering resources for brand new shoulder armor, or earning gold with killing blows on lowly minions.  Online gaming has ushered in endless opportunities for new pastimes and extra-curricular activities, specifically those centered on a computer screen.

From staple team-based video games like “League of Legends” to in-depth online universes like “World of Warcraft” (WoW), select students tend to spend more time within their electronic social realms than other situations, creating and maintaining the same relationships as students who end up spending their time in the “real” world.

Their experiences, however, uniquely stem from pixels and graphical coding.

WoW player sophomore Keegan Trundy, is majoring in computer science and minoring in applied mathematics while still participating in his guild’s weekly raiding schedule.

“While a lot of people would think video games that take up significant portions of time such as WoW would be played only by people who hide in dark rooms and stare at the screen for endless hours,” Trundy explained,  “This is not generally the case.”

Wow is a massively multiplayer online role playing game, or MMORPG.  Blizzard’s 7,700,000 WoW subscribers participate in various quests and challenges, namely large raids that generally require 10 or 25 players to complete.  Many serious raiders are also part of a guild, where they work with their fellow players to complete objectives within the game’s most recent content. Past expansions have pitted raiders against the Lich King and Deathwing, a monolithic fire dragon.

Oliver Rice, freshman computer science major, spends a large portion of his time on online games as well.  But, instead of playing in a guild of potentially hundreds, he plays for a team of five on “League of Legends”, coordinating kills on enemy champions and destroying his foes’ turrets, inhibitors and nexus.  Rice says he generally spends six hours a week on “League of Legends.”

“There is a pro league for League of Legends, and like others with sports teams, I dream of being on a team that plays professionally,” Rice   explained.

Both gamers compared their experiences online to playing for another sort of team.

Rice recounted the similarities between sports and “League of Legends”, stating, “Like in football there are 11 players on the field for each team at any given time and each one of those 11 players has a specific roll. In League there are five players on each team and each player has a specific roll.”

Trundy said, “Most sports hone the brain and the body.”

He continued to point out that WoW “is, without a doubt, an excellent method for honing mental alacrity and decision-making skills.”

Known for his Shaman prowess, Trundy used to spend around 20 hours on WoW each week, with eight of those devoted to raiding, healing his guild members through boss fights and working his way around intricate fight mechanics.

These online enthusiasts have found their internet hobbies have rewarded them with strong friendships.

Trundy said, “I meet real people through online games, and I have met many of them who live in all sorts of places, from California to Kansas to Maine to Ireland to Australia to right here in Boise!”

He continued to explain the instant connection he can forge with fellow WoW players he meets away from the keyboard, attributed solely to the fact that they both play and enjoy the same game. In terms of schoolwork, it seems as though, like other commitments, these online hobbies and activities have their methods for getting in the way of productivity.

Rice commented, “I failed one class last semester, and it was probably due to how much time I spent on League.”

But, as always, priorities can be set to avoid such problems, as seen in Trundy’s practices.

He explained, “I try to make WoW my last priority, but some other things shift occasionally to make room for the hard-set raid schedule.”  Fully illustrating such a situation, Trundy continued, “Schoolwork can occasionally fall by the wayside if it is assigned on a raid day and is due in two days or something similar.”

Rice holds his experiences with a ranked team in high regard, labeling his time on the Fields of Justice as positive and worthwhile.

Summing up the overarching value of his online hobby, he stated, “I feel that gaming, just like those who are good at the ‘staple’ hobbies, takes talent.”