David Atkins (Clare), Maxim Shport (Sidney Sussex) Darren Hoover (Queens’) and Haaroon Yousaf; David Atkins; Olivia Howard (Newnham). Photography by Adam Lawrence.
Society: Cambridge University Digital Gaming Society
The Cambridge University Digital Gaming Society is more collaborative than competitive. Except when it comes to Oxford.
The roar of the crowd, the thrill of helping your teammates crush a long-standing rival – and the soft glow of a laptop screen. Playing computer games might not be your typical spectator sport, but for the Cambridge University Digital Gaming Society (CUDGS) there’s no more exciting time than the annual Varsity match against Oxford. Every spring, five teams of five from each university clash in hotly-contested battles of League of Legends, Defence of the Ancients (DoTA), Counter-Strike, Hearthstone and Overwatch, with the overall winners taking home a trophy. “It’s like showing up at a football match,” says treasurer Povilas Slekys (Girton). “People cheer on their favourite players.”
The rest of the year, membership is less intense, and based on playing online rather than in person. The CUDGS Facebook group has more than 490 members, so it’s easy to find an opponent. “It’s a nice change from having to sit and write essays, to be able to let off steam and play with people you know, rather than strangers,” says club secretary Olivia Howard (Newnham).
She rallies her fellow gamers to go to pub meets every few weeks and organises LAN (Local Area Network) parties once or twice a term. These allow group members to pile into one room with their laptop or desktop computers and play face to face, often collaborating instead of competing. Sometimes a games company sponsors the event, which means free pizza. Everyone is welcome, says Howard. “It doesn’t matter if you’re not super pro. You’ll still find people to play with.”