The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


Gaming brings community together at Castilleja

Chloe Cheng
In ancient times, people would send homing pigeons. In modern day, Castillejans send Game Pigeons.

As an area of interest for many people around the world, it is surprising that gaming is not discussed very much at Castilleja. Through Casti Gamers learn about how gaming enhances, integrates into, and connects the lives of students and faculty across campus.

Getting into Games:

According to the New York Times, around 80% of the United States citizens have a brother or sister, making sibling influences a common experience for many. For the students and teachers of Castilleja, this circumstance is especially applicable to their gaming.

English teacher Cam Kaplan shared that he started gaming more after receiving a hand-me-down Xbox from his brother: “I inherited his Xbox and I inherited his games, and I was like, ‘Oh! I’ll give this a try!’” Since the Xbox was passed down because his brother was exiting his “gaming phase,” Kaplan and his brother never gamed together after college and their gaming phases didn’t really “overlap.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the mobile game Among Us surged to popularity. With the growing number of Among Us players, gamers on YouTube started streaming their games. Tvisha Prasad ’27 started watching these streams during the pandemic, which made her older sister, Tanvi Prasad ’24, get interested in gaming as well. As streamers started to branch out, they started watching other videos about different games. “Thankfully, I have a couple friends who I play video games with. I don’t think that I would be as into games or have as much fun with games if I didn’t have someone to play with,” Tvisha said.

Tanvi Prasad and Tvisha Prasad’s gaming got an upgrade when Tanvi Prasad got a personal computer for her birthday before junior year. The two sisters began playing Valorant, a first-person shooter game. Tanvi Prasad enjoys playing as Sage, Skye, and a Sentinel (type of character). She shared that in the game, “you are the character” and “in defense, you have sites. In those sites you need to stop the attackers from planting the spike, which is the bomb. If they do plant [it], then you have a set amount of time to defuse it. On offense, you have to clear the site, plant the spike, and make sure no one diffuses it.”

At Castilleja, there has been a sweep of popularity surrounding the online game Brawl Stars. Brawl Stars features a variety of characters who participate in a third-person shooter arena. Sophomores especially play a lot of Brawl Stars on their phones. Cali Scolnick ’26 said that the game rose to popularity around the Circle as “a chain reaction of people…[got] curious enough [to] download it.” Now, students log into their accounts and play the game with friends during breaks or free time between classes.


Memorable Moments:

Whether you’re fighting to gain territory or lording your high scores over your friends after a tough match, gaming is filled with memorable moments.

From achieving diamond rank to appearing in games with popular streamers, Tvisha has made multiple noteworthy memories from playing Valorant. Tvisha recalls reaching diamond rank after a whole summer stuck in platinum rank: “I got so happy!” Tvisha said. Another memorable moment for her was coming full circle by meeting the streamer Reversah during one of her games. Tvisha explained, “I was playing Valorant, and…streamers can hide their names, so Astra (the agent character) was talking, and I was like, ‘Wait this person sounds familiar.’ I looked it up on TikTok, and they [Reversah playing as Astra] are live! They were on the same map, and my username was on their screen!” For Tvisha, this “was a very fun moment…I met a streamer and I talked to them!” Since then, Tvisha has also appeared on another content creator’s post. She found out about the post from a friend and later joked that “maybe this means I play too much.”


Gaming setup:

Gaming setups help provide a pleasant atmosphere while people are playing video games. At Castilleja, students and faculty have a wide range of different setups.

“When I moved into my new apartment, my dad was very sweet and bought me a new projector, so I have that instead of a tv. I have a big blank wall and I play on there.” Kaplan said. “Is that my dream setup? Kind of…because it works with my mode of playing: chilling on the couch with my roommate.” Although Kaplan enjoys this method of gaming, he shared that his games sometimes get disrupted during the daytime and that he would consider adding black-out curtains to his setup.

History teacher Ricardo Carmona enjoys using a “Steam deck with a monitor as [his] primary gaming setup.” When Carmona plays the Nintendo Switch with family and friends, he leaves his switch with plain controllers.

For any Castillejans looking to customize their gaming controllers, Pinterest shares lots of inspiration for how to use stickers to spruce them up and Etsy has lots of sellers who provide colorful and unique controllers.


Fitting in time to play:

While in the “trenches” of college applications, Tanvi “didn’t play Valorant at all”, because she was “focused on applications”. Setting this boundary for herself was a difficult and impressive feat for Tanvi, because she used to play Valorant very often. When the applications were done and spring semester started up, Tanvi started reintegrating time dedicated to Valerent.

Kaplan enjoys playing Borderlands, but expressed that because he has “beaten it four times at this point…[he is] not really enjoying the game [anymore]. It’s more of an activity to do with your thumbs while you are paying more attention to something else.” When playing Borderlands, Kaplan turns off the sound and “listens to hours of podcasts and entire books.”

With around 800 hours of Animal Crossing under her belt, Mika Cham ’25 played a lot of video games during the Covid-19 pandemic. “I could’ve learned a language. I could’ve taught myself a new skill. I could’ve learned to juggle. [But] no. I just made a really nice island,” Cham said, laughing. Besides Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Cham has also played other Nintendo games such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart (as Link). She would also spend weekends playing League of Legends with her friends.


Benefits of Gaming:

Although gaming is often perceived as a reclusive activity, students and faculty shared that it has actually helped their social abilities.

For Cham, gaming provided herself with a bridge to connect with friends during quarantine. Even after the pandemic, Cham still bonds with new people over games. She described it as a “shortcut to friendship.” Cham also shared that she was able to connect with her friends in Singapore by playing Minecraft with them on the computer.

On a similar note, Kaplan believes that gaming has helped him start small talk with others. “I don’t really care about sports, but gaming fills the gap of bonding with people over sports or weather,” he said. Kaplan elaborated by noting that when meeting new people, it is easier to start a lively conversation by discussing video games.

For many people, books offer an escape from reality and a space to relax. For the gamers at Castilleja, video games offer the same experience.

“People say that gaming is so stressful, but gaming helps me recharge,” Tvisha said. Tvisha has utilized the destressing aspect of gaming for her daily routines. Tvisha shared that after getting home from school, gaming allows her to rest before getting started on homework.



Since Valorant’s ability to destress a player is debatable, interviewees shared that another game to destress is Cats and Soup. You may have seen this game appear on several advertisements, but Cats and Soup is an idle game where you accrue money and assist cute cats as they make soup and juice. The game can even turn dog lovers into Cats and Soup addicts. Tanvi downloaded the game in mid to late 2022, and since then, she has reached money in the ‘az’ level and has gotten 40 cats!

Kaplan recommends Anatomy to any “stressful-story-loving gamers.” Kaplan shared that this “small, indie game” only takes an hour and involves a creepy setup with great graphics by Kitty HorrorShow. “I am a big fan of horror, and I think that that was an excellent game. It really scared me,” Kaplan said.


Although gaming is often painted in a negative light, gaming is a popular activity, which affects several Castillejans through their everyday lives as they start conversations, make memories with close friends and create new friendships. Pick through and try a variety of games ranging from idle to combat, and you may find yourself connecting to fellow gamers around the Circle.

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About the Contributor
Chloe Cheng
Chloe Cheng, Digital Artist
Chloe Cheng ‘27 is a digital artist for Counterpoint. After working on her NHD podcast and learning from Ailsa Chang, she wants to learn more about what being a journalist is like. She enjoys various art hobbies from drawing to wheel throwing, is a XC runner and loves reading books (especially memoirs and romance).

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