(WGHP) — Every generation has its “Get off my lawn” moment.

For the generation born after the Civil War, it was probably the rise of Hollywood enticing young people to spend hours in dark buildings watching other people do things on film. For the Lost Generation of World War I, it may well have been television. 

Now? Well, it has to be video games, right? 

“Why are you wasting your time exercising nothing but your thumbs!” you might hear a “boomer” say.

“All throughout human history, we have always made games,” Professor Stefan Hall said. “Video games are just the latest iteration of that drive in us to entertain ourselves.”

Hall knows a little something about that. He’s the chair of the Gaming Department at High Point University. 

But Hall says this really isn’t anything new.

“There are some things, as humans, that we do innately,” Hall said. “We are innately a language-using species. We’re communicators. We are innately a tool-using species. We make things and manipulate the environment. And we’re innately a creative, fun-loving species, so why wouldn’t we make games just as something we do?”

And HPU isn’t alone.

“We need to meet our students where they are,” said John Borchert, the associate director of the UNCG Network for the Cultural Study of Videogaming. “So our students are already playing video games. We need to show them how they can use those games to learn new things and research new areas and find new career paths.”

Gaming has been increasing steadily but really took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. But modern video games are collaborative. Nearly 90% of gamers say they expanded their social circle through gaming, according to the Entertainment Software Association. 

And nearly half say they met a spouse, significant other or close friend through gaming.

“One thing that really changed that or gave more momentum … was when games went online,” Borchert said. “Games went from being something that you would play maybe with a couple of people on the couch with your TV to being able to interact sort of internationally with unlimited amounts of people and then compete or collaborate or team up.”

And that’s why with the full backing of Chancellor Frank Gilliam, UNC-Greensboro is going full in on the gaming opportunity.

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“We have a minor in video gaming and Esports. We have a concentration in the Brian Business School, Esports Management … We have the Network for the Cultural Study of Videogaming,” said David Wyrick, UNCG’s chief innovation officer.

“We are doing things that no other university is really even touching right now. The academic programs that we’re creating, the amazing club presence that we have where these students are competing on a daily basis,” said Sophie Priest, UNCG’s assistant director of Esports Innovation. “Those opportunities that our students are being given here at UNCG are unseen at any other university.”

See more on this in this edition of The Buckley Report.