Assistant Spectrum Editor
VCU sophomore Adam Seats’ family has a tradition: watching Star Trek.
“My dad grew up watching Star Trek with his dad, so me and him would watch Star Trek,” he said.
Seats’ family tradition would lead him into the world of science fiction and fantasy, and during the last two years of his high school career, William & Mary’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Club (called Skiffy for short).
Now at VCU and without regular contact with Skiffy, Seats is trying to create a VCU chapter of Skiffy for those who consider Klingon an important language to know.
Skiffy began in the ’70s at William & Mary, and has since morphed into a community-based club not only on its original campus, but also at VCU.
Seats decided to start a VCU chapter of Skiffy for students who might not find a sense of community anywhere else on campus.
“A lot of people there (at Skiffy) are the stereotypical, awkward, probably-wouldn’t-go-out-except-to-get-something-to-eat kind of people,” he said. “There aren’t so many places nerds can go on campus and have people of similar mindsets that they can talk to … I noticed it was a niche that needed to be filled.”
VCU graduate student Mason Montgomery finished his undergraduate work at William & Mary, where he was a member of the parent chapter of Skiffy.
“It’s (the club) like a community of outcasts, sort of,” he said. “It’s just a pretty wide-ranging group of people within the nerdy or geeky area. It’s a really fun group.”
While most Skiffy activities involve some sort of casual discussion over science fiction topics, Skiffy also has a tradition of bringing some fantasy to life, in the form of Nerf Games.
Named to avoid any potential conflict with school officials (anything with ‘gun’ and ‘fight’ are not things schools tend to take to, according to Seats), the Nerf Games are self-explanatory: Skiffy members play different variations of games with toy Nerf guns that involve depleting one team’s human resources before the other team does.
According to Montgomery, who was named Master of Arms over the games in his last year at William & Mary, there are simple versions (blue team vs. red team) and more advanced versions that can include zombies and vampires.
“You can start with some zombies and at the end, you end up with a massive horde of zombies and a few cowering people,” said Montgomery.
Nerf games, which are played from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. Saturday nights in various academic buildings on William & Mary’s campus, were not always a welcome activity on the campus.
According to Seats, when Skiffy began their Nerf games they originally played outside. As the club realized, campus officials and police weren’t fond of the idea of simulated weapons in the open. After this, the club moved the games into academic buildings.
“One weekend, they’re (Skiffy members) all there (in the building) and all of a sudden, someone looks out the window, and the building is surrounded by cops,” said Seats.
W&M’s Skiffy had to appeal to the school to continue their Nerf games, and while they were successful, Seats is apprehensive about the outcome for VCU’s Skiffy.
Seats said that besides just being in its early stages, the logistics of Skiffy organizing Nerf games in Richmond are also a challenge.
“The main obstacle is the limited access to academic buildings after hours,” said Montgomery.
Seats also recognizes the difficulties a more populated campus can be to the game.
“The problem with that (the park) is the large number of people who make use of that park,” he said. “It would be nice to think that we could go out and use the entire park, but realistically, you’ve got however much of it isn’t taken up by buildings … you have any given number of Richmond residents … so while we might be able to take over a hunk, it probably won’t be enough.”
Though Nerf games may not be in VCU Skiffy’s future, the club does plan to carry on with meetings beginning in March and a full schedule of activities, including movie screenings and a potential video game tournament, as a way to raise funds for the club.