When I come into the room, Kate Beckert ’14 has two Nerf Maverick guns by her hips. Zoe Wilkerson ’15 is sitting on her bed, simultaneously distorting and cuddling their squishy spherical toy, Pochi. Beckert looks deadly until she falls laughing manically on the floor, Wilkerson joining her in a second.
After an impromptu sword fight, Wilkerson jumps back onto her bed and looks admiringly at her posters, zeroing in on a Firefly one prominently featuring Nathan Fillion, who portrays the main protagonist. “He’s hot, the biggest nerd in the world, and I have his face on my wall!” She flashes one of her many impish smiles, kicks around some of her 21 pairs of shoes, and then jumps over to the mountain of junk food piling up on her desk.
“We have cereals and Oreos and Pop Tarts and mac and cheese and brownies and gummies.” Wilkerson says. The pile holds up precariously, but Beckert is a master stacker. “I was an army brat, and I moved around so much. Most of my stuff is in strategically placed boxes under my bed. Hence,” Beckert says with goofy certainty, “why I’m so good at Tetris.”
Beckert cruises over to her own desk, where four immaculate dolls are displayed like trophies, looking like a goth version of Bratz dolls. “I collect dolls because I’m cool!” Beckert yells out. “I collect dolls from the Monster High series. Here’s Ghost, Robot, Phantom of the Opera, and Plant Monster, who I love.” She motions wildly at the other assorted nerdy doodads around her room. “These collections are my way of being part of the Gaming House.”
“Some people might think that we’re two girls who’re creeped on super hard, but it’s really not true,” Wilkerson says. “We’re a giant family. We hang out and play role-playing board games in the hall all the time.” At this, both Beckert and Wilkerson start whooping out, “Court, court, court!” Wilkerson explains, “We played Arabian Nights, which is a very, very complicated game, and when we once encountered an elephant one of the options was to ‘court it.’ So now our go-to options are either to court or drink. Like in real life.”
I suggest we take a picture of the room, but instead Beckert and Wilkerson run out and knock incessantly on the other dorms, yelling out, “Everyone out of their rooms! Come play with us!” The other residents of the Gaming House come out into the hallway, hesitantly, cheerfully, blearily, but after half an hour of conversation and poking they all coagulate into a ragtag team for a photo.