Ryan Davies takes a look at gaming whilst at university.

University life can be cruel on a healthy gaming habit. The social focus and course workload make for horribly effective distractions for those who are used to spending time on their consoles or PC. Ironically though, it’s also a great time to get into, or get back into, gaming. Students across Bristol are going to be spending a lot of time with their flatmates or the friends they’ve made across the university, and videogames’ increasing popularity within the public sphere makes it easier than ever to play together. Studying at UWE for the past two years has made me something of an expert on videogaming and uni life, so allow me to provide a few pointers.

In essence, playing alone isn’t really the university style. Multiplayer games are your friend, and they’re perfect for both chilled weekends and social occasions (and yes, I just got the term ‘social occasions’ into an article about university life). If you’re already into gaming, then it’s well worth spending a little bit of ‘early term money’ on a couple of extra controllers for your Xbox or PlayStation. It sounds obvious, but I don’t want to remember how many times I’ve been left victim of the ‘winner stays on’ rule because the console owner was lacking pads for everyone to play at once.

Of course, there’s no point owning numerous controllers if you haven’t got the right games to use them with. Keep an eye out for the split-screen games around at the moment. They’re certainly not as numerous as they once were (welp), but there are some diamonds in the rough. Those with a PS4 need to take a look at Towerfall: Ascension, a brilliant little 8-bit style game that’s ideal for university gaming. It’s fun, frantic and supports up to four players – although at around £40 for a new PS4 controller, it might be worth seeing if any friends own some first.

If you’re in what’s sure to be the majority of people who don’t own a PS4 or Xbox One, then the classics are your best bet. Be prepared for the inevitable ‘if it’s not FIFA it’s not worth playing’ people – and if that’s you, then you’ve got a good head start. Dig out your old copies of Call of Duty or order one online – everyone knows how to play COD and whatever your thoughts are on the franchise, they’re undeniably excellent split-screen games. As a very personal tip: PS3 owners look out for Supersonic Acbrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars (seriously), it’s probably the best split-screen game ever made – because, well, it’s football with cars, people!

If explosions and football aren’t really your bag, and you’re more of a ‘play with friends only’ kind of gamer, then it’s really worth getting hold of a used Nintendo Wii or maybe even the newer Wii U. Mario is probably even more famous than COD, and he’s certainly a lot less violent. Titles like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. are possibly the ultimate uni videogames. Just about everyone has either played them or heard of them, so it’ll be easy to get people playing. They’re also great for rotations and while most games of Mario Kart are anything but chilled, they’re not quite as ‘full-on’ as something like COD.

If you’re a little unfamiliar with gaming, don’t be afraid to give everything a go. I dare say that the stigma once attached to the medium has all but vanished by this point, and while I’m certainly not saying you should jump into something as hardcore as World of Warcraft any time soon, joining in can never hurt. Who knows, you might find something you really, really enjoy. For those who already enjoy a bit of solo gaming, don’t be afraid to keep playing. Gaming with friends may be ideal for uni, but having a bit of alone time with a great single-player experience can be a great break from the norm.

Have fun gaming this year, and remember that any dispute, and I mean any dispute, can be settled with a one-on-one game of Mario Kart. Guaranteed.

By Ryan Davies