Every Thursday is video game day at the SAITSA Support Centre, which attracts a lot of attention from students seeking stress relief.
Tanya Pittis, a human resources student, and Brice Djomani, a business administrator student, find their safest place to be is the support centre.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., students can take a break from their stressful lives and take a moment to remember what it was like to goof around and be a kid.
“We want all students to feel welcomed, this is a safe place to relax and make friends.” Pittis said.
On the average video game Thursday, the centre can have up to 25 to 28 students and all of them playing competitive games, hanging out, or just relaxing.
“It engages students and makes them feel welcome. We don’t want cliques to start, we want everyone to open up,” Pittis said.
The environment is friendly and stress-free, leaving students in comfort and away from the crazy encounters they might face in life.
Students don’t have to play video games. There are many puzzles, a large Jenga set, and even card games.
The main focus is on mental health and fighting the barriers that students and staff have to go through.
Djomani has visited the centre every day and has made most of his friends there.
“There’s no place else like it. It feels safe, it’s good to hang out, and all I have to do is grab my food and chill out here between classes,” Djomani said.
Other students also seemed to enjoy it and will play games like Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart 8, and Mario Party 10.
Staff members have appreciated the video game day so much that they prompted the centre to get Just Dance 3, which is a hit in the room as well.
“It’s always exciting, that’s the best part about this room. No one’s bored or sad, everyone has a really good time in here and it’s every day.” Djomani said.
There are many regulars who visit, but Pittis always finds new faces coming in.
“We don’t want any games with too much violence or nudity, so it’s easy going for everyone,” Pittis said.
In some cases the students will even receive prizes for winning some of the games, giving Video Game Day a nice competitive edge.
“Some people don’t have an end goal, but making friends can be that end goal, which can be achieved here at the centre.” Pittis said.
Everyone is accepting and approachable when it came to playing, chatting or watching a TV show.
“Even if it’s for five minutes, I will always come down and say hi,” Djomani said.
The SAITSA Support Centre doesn’t just have Video Game Thursdays either. There also are Flashback Friday, Movie Matinee Monday, and Crafty Tuesday.
“We don’t just support students, we support their mental health,” Pittis said.