Digging up Queen’s underground gaming culture

The community of gamers and developers that led a Queen’s student to write his own game

Subterrarium is a puzzle game developed by Taylor Anderson, CompSci ’16.
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Whether we classify ourselves as avid gamers or casual players, most of us play a part in the virtual realm: racing in Mario Kart, beating a friend in FIFA, passing a level in Candy Crush and trying to reach 2048.  
 
Video games are everywhere, and to my recent surprise, are in high demand at Queen’s. Now, more than ever, students are participating in gamer groups and clubs. Whether you’re looking for a LAN party (a competitive gaming league), a new game, people to play with or a video game to develop, there’s a club for you.
 
One exclusive Facebook group, QLAN, has approximately 565 members alone. In the group, gamers hold events, exchange advice and, ultimately, bond over their shared love for gaming. If you look beyond the surface at Queen’s, you’ll find the school’s cool underground gaming scene, whose members include some of the most talented and creative individuals on campus. 
 
Meet Taylor Anderson, CompSci ’16. Anderson, a self-made video game developer who has successfully designed and produced the game, Subterrarium. While Anderson has always shared a passion for video games, it wasn’t until he joined a developer group at Queen’s that he created a virtual world of his own. 
 
In his freshman year, Anderson teamed up with two friends to create the ultimate video game. Anderson was the writer, while his friends were in charge of programming, sounds and other departments. However, the plan 
fell apart almost immediately. 
 
“It was obvious to all of us that this wasn’t going anywhere, so it kind of broke apart by the end of the year,” Anderson said. “After that, I was like, ‘this programming thing sounds interesting and I like to make games’ … so I learned.” 
 
Later, Subterrarium was born. 
 

Subterrarium is a puzzle game about a girl with a drill and jetpack trapped underground. In it, you explore perilous caves and underground water and gardens — hence terrarium. You can also buy soda from vending machines, all in an effort to reach the surface. 
 
As a developer and gamer, Anderson is a member of the Queen’s video game scene.
 
“There are two groups that go in and out of existence every year,” Anderson said. “There is Queen’s game developer group, and then there is a Kingston game developer group. I’ve been to some meetings of both of those.” 
 
While Anderson’s involved in the aforementioned groups, he said there are several others available at Queen’s, such as a group solely devoted to Super Smash Bros. 
 
“All they do is play Smash Bros. and they’re really good at it. They have tournaments every single week and stuff. We recently held one in this house, which is why I know about them.” 
 
In a university overwhelmed by a vast amount of clubs and cultural groups, it’s hard for gamers to establish themselves beyond the  screen or virtual world. 
 
“There probably is a rather large community, but it is very fragmented, because video games in general are very fragmented and it’s a huge, huge industry. “ 
 
Despite gamers’ subtle profile on campus, the video game culture does exist and, it’s a noteworthy slice of the Queen’s community. As Anderson put it, “you have to search for it to find it, but it’s there.”
 

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