Lifestyles

College Student Social Life Created Through Competitive Gaming

Selena Lezama Changed Because of Overwatch

By: Dani Figueroa

Lezama enjoys playing Overwatch to make connections with others. Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

From balancing being a full-time student to working as a paraprofessional for kids with special needs, Selena Lezama plays competitive games to relieve stress and to get away from the real world.

Lezama started playing video games at the age of six. 

“We were forced to play,” Lezama said. “The game didn’t give us a choice.”

Faced with having moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey, her mother gave her a Nintendo 64 to deal with the loneliness a new home feels. She has since come to love gaming on various platforms.

Her social life has gradually improved since then because of how some game functions force a player to interact with others.  A significant contributor to her new social life is Overwatch. 

Overwatch is a game that forces players to work together if they want to get ahead. Leads to pairings of different age ranges, for Lezama that’s a 12-year-old French-Canadian girl, Rosa.

Lezama and her friends take care of the girl, making sure that she is not running in with the wrong crowd. The game put her in a safe group that consists mostly of girls. She doesn’t have to deal with bullies. 

“We love hearing from her,” Lezama said. “She’s the child we never asked for.”

She truly loves helping people in the online world, and is willing to give advice and helps those who are new to the game. She may be competitive, but she is a calm voice in the sea of virtual violence.

Her competitive nature can get the best of her leading to bursts of anger as she plays. She has learned to deal with it. Taking a moment after to pause and collect her breath. The cycle repeating over again once she presses play. 

From balancing being a full-time student to working as a paraprofessional for kids with special needs, she plays games to relieve stress and to get away from the real world.

Overwatch hasn’t affected how she makes friends in real life. Lezama knows there is a difference in how real-life friends react from her virtual ones. However, she is weighed down by the fact that they are too far away.

She also describes how much work it takes to maintain these friendships as they can break without much notice. Availability is also an issue, as some of her friends are not able to bring their systems with them when they go off to college, or they can stop playing, and no one will hear from them. 

Other times friendships break when they can no longer work together as they used to. 

Juggling her school life and her work life also serves as a block. As she is a full-time student, she has to go days without talking with her friends to catch up with school work. 

Working as a paraprofessional also leaves her drained as the children are sometimes too much to handle. 

In acknowledgment, she sets aside time where she can talk to her virtual friends before she thinks of picking up a controller. An everyday occurrence that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.  

She has met her online friends in real life.  

Her friend Maria is from Dallas, Texas, someone she considers a very close friend. They have never met face-to-face before. They are making plans to fix this once the school year ends. 

They met when Lezama chose a random group to join to make it to a champion level in Overwatch. After the match, they continued to talk and select each other repeatedly in the game. 

Overwatch is how many of Lezama’s online friends came to know her. Many are coming from different states and counties. Barriers no longer being an issue for her. 

 “Nothing is better than seeing them.” Lezama said, “I couldn’t have asked for better friends.”

 

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