Undercover Warriors in the Math Lab

By Alex Gura

Armed with a small, bright orange flash drive, Fred* ’12 marches down the hallway of the third story of Chalmers and takes a sharp right turn. He enters the computer math lab, where various advanced math students go to use computers for their classes. This time, however, it is not math students filling in the black upholstered chairs. Fred has come to battle his friends, to virtually wage war with five other like-minded students who sit scattered around the black desktops.

Fred and his friends are not casual video gamers, surfing the web for distractions; they are very serious about their entertainment, and they come well-prepared. Fred has a spare flash drive that contains an extra copy of the game Starcraft in case another person needs it or, more importantly, in case he cannot play.

Fred doesn’t see a problem with what he is doing. To him it is simply a way to have fun and relax.

“[Playing videogames] is just a way to escape all the stress of working and studying and deadlines, when you need it most [at school],” Fred said. “And it’s just a great way to have fun with your friends and chill.”

However some teachers have issues with what Fred and his friends are doing. Though some teachers, such as computer science teacher Jacob Hazard, do not believe it is a pressing problem, they all agree it is against the rules.

“We have computers so that students can use them for studying, not for amusement,” Hazard said. “When kids use computers to play games, they take up space that could be filled by a student trying to work.”

Even with this consideration, Hazard said, people playing games has never seemed like a big problem to him.

“It’s not a pandemic,” he said. “I’ve never had a kid get a detention for playing games too frequently.”

It is not the people playing games that poses the problems, Hazard said, but where they get the games.

“If a kid decides to install software and play through the network, he has to go through the network firewall and bypass the administrator. This is a serious offense,” Hazard said. “We all sign a code of conduct when we start at the Upper School, and we have to sign a sheet that says ‘We agree to abide by the rules of the network, etc.’ Breaking these rules is a breach of contract, and could even be expellable.”

However, people still manage to install software on school computers, to the dismay of the computer administrators. Among the quieted shouts of victory during a videogame session of the game Battlefront, one student playing the games mentions that he started playing the game when he found it preinstalled and hidden in a folder for calculus programs.

“I never would have played it if it wasn’t already there,” said Jerome* ’10. “Someone obviously went through a lot of trouble, I’m just glad I didn’t have to do it.”

Even with threats of punishment over their heads, Fred, Jerome, and their friends still manage to have a good time and blow each other to pieces in the process.

 

*Name changed upon request.

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