Wits students are told to “work hard and play hard” in their first year welcome speeches. They are now taking this literally with regular visits to the newly opened Chialan’s Gaming Lounge in the Matrix.

This raises questions of whether playing console and computer games on campus will be a form of recreation or distraction for students.

“With school I get really stressed, so this is a good place to come relax and release pressure,” said Jonathan Tshiswaka, a 1st year actuarial science student.

Tshiswaka visits the gaming lounge almost every day, and like many other students, views it as “a great place to go ‘chill’ with friends and have a bit of fun”.

Having been a university student himself, Chialan Govindasami, the owner of the gaming lounge, decided to add “colour” into the daily campus routine.

“I know what I wanted as a student. You need a release and some people find that release through [playing] games,” he said.

The gaming lounge houses PCs, Playstation 3 and Xbox games which students can play at 15 minute or hourly intervals for R9 and R30 respectively.

Witsies can be seen playing a wide variety of games daily and regular gamers have already been established.

Govindasami accounts this to “genius on his part in offering games which students enjoy playing. “I assessed what games were popular so there is a broad spectrum of good games.”

Joseph Mongwai, another 1st year student sees value in playing games and said: “When I’m in a lecture I think critically and playing games requires critical thinking as well. It helps me in that way.”

However the BA law student admitted that time is a problem for him. “It really tests on time, management; you could skip classes for games.”

“I think it’s up to the individuals to manage their time,” said Govindasami. The owner believes that the game lounge is a “good thing for this campus. I’m trying to deviate from the norm associated with being at varsity,” he said.