Nerd FARE aims to get rid of the gamer stereotypes

Society of ASU West Gamers hosted a community event to demonstrate its culture

Society of ASU West Gamers, also known as SWAG, hosted Nerd FARE on Sunday, March 26 at the West campus to help break the stigma against gamers. 

SWAG collaborated with Teachers of the Future, Engaging Minds, an organization working to break stigmas, and Spectrum, a LGBT organization on campus.

Matt Sanders, a junior studying secondary education with an emphasis on history and a member of Teachers of the Future, said he wanted to raise awareness to the educational value of gaming and draw more people to the West campus.

“First and foremost, I feel like Arizona State University’s West campus in particular is off a lot of people’s radar,” he said. “I think an event like Nerd FARE which does draw in a lot of people from the community would raise awareness that ASU does have a West campus.

Sanders said games can prove to be very beneficial to learning.

“Arguably some of the first ways children learn is through playing games and activities through pretending to be other people, so I’ve liked to remind people of that,” he said. “That it’s not that worthless. That it actually has a place in the classroom.”

Sanders said Nerd FARE isn’t just about video games but board games as well.

“That is where I specifically want to attack the issue of game use in education because there are a lot of board games out there that are very good at teaching,” he said.

Sanders said games such as Settlers of Catan teach principles of social studies and economics, such as supply and demand. He also said Seven Wonders teaches about the seven wonders of the ancient world and real historical figures involved.

Arielle Herguth, a senior studying forensic science and the president of SWAG, said Nerd FARE was going to be a gaming expo, which would showcase game developers new games and gaming trends. But when the West campus's comic and science fiction, DevCon, was cancelled they decided to expand the event to all cultures and multiple organizations.

“Now we’re planning it as an expansive and social opportunity for people of variant backgrounds and different ideas to come together and engage with this one idea of really liking shows, anime, comics (and) pretty much everything,” she said.

Herguth said they wanted to model it after Comic-Con but toned down a little more to fit the ASU community. She also said she wants to give the community, ASU and non-ASU, a free, social and educational experience.

“Gamers get this stigma that they don’t like to be social,” she said. “They can’t be professional. They don’t want to leave their rooms, but this is bringing more awareness that this is a culture built from community.”

Julianna Williams, a sophomore studying forensic science and the event coordinator for SWAG, said the planning for Nerd FARE started in October 2016, but everything kicked into full gear in January when they realized that DevCon wasn’t happening this year.

Williams said she wanted to reach out to the community around ASU with activities for all members of the family, including educational board games.

“I was really pushing the idea of a live action escape the room,” she said. “Doing that, we’re able to get students and community members into groups so they’re able to increase their team building skills. We really like to be innovative with the types of events we build, so we can reach a bigger audience and have more inclusion.”

Williams said they kept the original plan for a Super Smash Bros. tournament but expanded it to reach various audiences to access a wider community.

"Maybe the community would feel more welcome if there are things for everybody instead of specifically for certain groups,” she said.  


Reach the reporter at anbuechl@asu.edu or follow @alexa_buechler on Twitter.

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