The Game’s Afoot

Ian Dwyer '14

Ian Dwyer ’14

Much like the dice in his favorite game, Dungeons and Dragons, Ian Dwyer ’14 has multiple sides.

He built a home theater system that any gamer would drool over, yet he’d rather play board games. And while he spends much of his time behind computers in the Vis Lab, one of his favorite hobbies is fossil hunting on the old ski hill.

“I do like nature — my major basically requires it,” said Dwyer, who is majoring in the natural sciences with a concentration in marine and freshwater sciences.

In describing his room in the Newell Apartments, Dwyer rattles off the details of his home-theater setup: a 72-inch projection screen, five speaker channels plus two additional speakers, and an 18-inch subwoofer concert amp.

“I like to go overkill,” said Dwyer, who is from West Chazy, N.Y. He began with parts from yard sales and has been improving upon his system by adding more expensive parts as his wallet allows.

When he was a rising sophomore, Dwyer’s skills caught the attention of the students leading The Game’s Afoot, Colgate’s gaming society. They needed a new technology officer to run the lighting and sound at events.

Eventually becoming a club leader, Dwyer has helped The Game’s Afoot grow in numbers and gatherings. Now, he acts as a proconsul, training the students who will take over after he graduates. However, he still keeps the music and light show running smoothly for events like Nerf war raves — during which the Hall of Presidents turns dark, neon lights bounce off upturned tables used as barriers, and teams blast each other with foam darts. “I play sometimes, but my fun is watching and facilitating fun for other people,” Dwyer said.

He’s also been creating entertainment — but for educational purposes — as a content developer at Colgate’s Vis Lab in the Ho Science Center, using his computer to sculpt 3-D models and then animating them.

Most of Dwyer’s hours over the last four years have been dedicated to “Flight Through a Cell,” a project with biology professor Ken Belanger that will ultimately be a 15-minute show with different narration tracks to teach high school and college students. Dwyer learned the necessary software programs on his own, just as he taught himself to build home-theater systems.

For as plugged in as he is, though, Dwyer likes his social life to exist in person, not online or through video games. In fact, he hasn’t played a video game in years. One of the first members of the new Trading Card Game Club on campus, Dwyer loves “all those really lame card games that nerds play.”

He prefers “analog gaming” — cards, board games, role playing in Dungeons and Dragons — because it’s more social, requiring a group of friends to interact on a personal level. “And I try to help new people learn games, because if you can get people into something you love, it’s just the best feeling,” Dwyer said.

That enthusiasm for sharing knowledge also shines through when he talks about working with the Vis Lab outreach program for K-12 students. Dwyer guides school groups through various demonstrations that teach scientific lessons ranging from plant growth to states of matter.

“My favorite part is when the group is clearly excited by the tour and asks good questions,” he said.

Sometimes, it’s the challenge of breaking down a seemingly simple answer for grade-schoolers. “Other times, questions can be complex,” he explained, “like ‘Why do dinosaurs have four toes?’ So I’ll have to get into evolutionary biology.”

The kids keep Dwyer on his toes, he said. “And I appreciate that. I feel like I’m helping to create a new generation of scientists by sharing my love for science.”

— Written by Aleta Mayne; Photo by Andrew Daddio