TULSA - Video games generally get a bad rap from many people, who think they make kids lazy, asocial, and possibly even violent.
But at Tulsa's Union High School, they've found a way to put video games in a much more positive light, and staff tells KRMG they're reaping the benefits.
Todd Borland's brainchild, "UHS The Lounge" consists of a few classrooms well wired for multimedia, where students gather on Wednesday and Friday mornings before school to play games like "Super Mario Kart" and "Smash Brothers."
They only play games rated "E" for everyone, and everyone naturally has to conduct themselves respectfully.
Other than that, there aren't a lot of rules -- and all students are welcome to join the club.
Borland tells KRMG "kids come to school stressed about home environment, or relationships...whatever they're thinking about. And the research has shown that playing video games helps to relieve that."
But they do more than relieve stress.
Kids leave after their session refreshed, energized, and ready to take on the day -- and that dreaded pop quiz in Algebra class.
Another side benefit even the adults never considered -- the lounge creates new friendships, many of which transcend the normally rigid social lines that are a feature of every high school, everywhere.
Some of the popular games include sports like football and basketball, racing games, and fighting games.
"All my girls play Mario Kart," says Chris Sharpe, who supervises The Lounge. "I've also got a game called Persona that all my girls play also... We have Super Smash Brothers Brawl, which is a big one."
Sharpe says students have told him the games wake them up and help them pay more attention in class.
"The day of video games being a negative, I think, are past," Borland told KRMG. "If you channel it correctly, video games are a huge, powerful engagement opportunity for students."
Asked why he couldn't just play video games at home, student Christian Daniels told KRMG it's about the social aspect for him. "You can't really bring your friends home," he said, but you can "get to school early and play video games with my friends."
And Jessica McIntosh says the gaming "gives me a reason to wake up." She adds, "I mean school's every day, this isn't every day so I wake up thinking 'Mario Kart.'"
She then took our reporter to school on the Mario Kart track, proving that the kids also gain a little hand-eye coordination as well.