I sometimes get a bit frustrated when I see or hear people running the game of bingo down, saying it’s just for senior citizens, people lacking in imagination, or even worse “poor people”. The rules of Bingo may be simple, and there’s little/no skill involved, but it’s a fun game with social interaction... and the chance of winning prize money! But I must admit that I didn’t think the game would appeal to University types. I was wrong!
Did you know that they play Bingo at the prestigious Bryant University in Rhode Island, United States? Earlier this year (2011) Bryant Uni purchased a Gemstone Bingo Console (cost around 1.5k$), and it was unveiled with backlight by the University President, in front of 400 students. Yes, it’s multi-player Bingo for the Xbox/Wii generation!
And a little way away, Salve Regina University they have 600 Bingo-loving students, who played a game in their gym, competing for iPods and PlayStation 3s. The Assistant Director of P said programming said “It’s kind of crazy that students are going to these games that people play in rec halls and churches,”. Also this appears to be no starter to a main course of going off campus later in the evening for other entertainment, because all the students stayed right to the last game! It also reinforces something that many Unites States Universities want to encourage- for students to stay on campus and indulge in alcohol-free, non-violent, social events.
It gets a bit weird at times- at the University of Buffalo, students also wanted Bingo, and in order to promote inclusion, and have some fun, they hold a Drag Queen Bingo every April, with the Bingo Caller being a local cross-dresser! And before you ask, no! I look rubbish in fishnets and heels (pencil skirts and brogues are more me...).
Surprisingly, in many US Universities the Bingo sessions are more supported than the comedy evenings. The students say that if they want to see comedy they can just tune into any number of TV stations, but Bingo is live, a bigger laugh, and of course there’s the chance of winning a prize!
Perhaps they ought to do what they did at my one-time local, the Montague Arms in Peckham, South London, and combine the two. Yep they had a comedian/host who not only played music (it had the first Moog Synthesiser in a pub in the UK 1n 1970) and told jokes, but he had three Bingo sessions each evening and acted as Caller.
Whether you’re a student or not- Good Luck!