Sunday, August 28, 2011

Recounting my four years at CSULB's gaming club

For a lot of people, having a social moment among friends with video games was probably an event. A single day or several days on the calendar that you probably looked forward to.

But for me, it was 4 whole years.

Enter college: 4 years where I was expected to earn a degree (in journalism). But just earning a degree would be madness. I'm not some machine that does nothing but work.

It all started very strangely as far as campus clubs go. Another night of anime club and one of my friends told me he was starting a gaming club. It sounded fun, so I said I wanted in.

Thus, for the next 4 years, at 10pm on various nights depending on the scheduling of the semester, I attended and eventually helped maintain a small, ragtag club of misfits who's main description on our fliers was to, “Meet, compete, and encourage different games of all types.”

The first year
It started small in my first year. We had a dinky little room with barely any practical space and only 1 table. It was mostly a lecture room with 30 or so chairs (not desks) and a table at the front. Something I went out of my way to correct in the future. The only thing we could do in such a setting was playing random table-top games like Zombies! But it was during these first few meetings that I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons, which was a major part of my identity at college.

I was still a member at the time and I could count our total membership on two hands (around 6). It was tough juggling interested members who were only interested in aspects like D&D and who were interested in aspects like video games. But I got to know the core members and officers of gaming club at this point and we all became comrades by the end of the first year.

The second year
With a new year came new chances to reinvent gaming club, and this was the year we truly began playing video games. In fact, I was the only one to really contribute video games during this year, packing up my Xbox 360 in a traveling case so that we could hook it up to the ratty looking classroom television so we could play games like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4.

Our membership grew modestly (totaling to 9 people!) and some of my favorite moments of this year was having a friend spawn in midair during a Falcon sequence of Halo 3's campaign and meeting my soon-to-be girlfriend for the first time.

The third year
Nick, the club's first president and founder decided to step down as his workload as an art student has escalated this year. This left the vice-president, Heidi, to become president. And I wanted to contribute to club now and I became vice-president. But it didn't really matter. Our membership was small enough that it didn't really feel like we were officers. We were just the people who took the lead in bringing sources of entertainment. It was during this year that we finally got a proper classroom to support our interests: a lab style room with multiple tables. We even had free reign on the projector system so we could game on the big screen. And having many tables let different groups section off into interests and I even managed to DM a rather successful campaign of D&D during this year.

Our interest shifted a lot towards video games during this year as just close friends came to get multiplayer sessions together but every week was fun nonetheless. Brawl was probably at the height of its popularity at this point while many fighting games grew to be all the rage as well. One of my friends even had an impressive run of I Want To Be The Guy during one meeting.

It was during this time that as an officer I really wanted the club to feel like a proper club. I tried organizing a handful of events to unify our members from trips to different gaming destinations like the famous Arcade Infinity and Howie's Game Shack to even casual tournaments among ourselves. I managed to host two tournaments: the Super Scrubtacular Showdown and Super Scrubtacular Showdown II: Hyper Fighting Edition. Yes, we had a sequel and like Capcom, the sequel came quickly but was much better than the original.

The fourth year
Things start winding down during this year. It was never like membership was huge in the first place but new members were few and far between. It was mostly just me and my friends at this point. I'd soon have to say goodbye to these weekly meetings of aimless fun with friends on video game consoles and D&D sessions.

I soon made plans to hand off my position to a longtime member who was arguably into the idea of making gaming club work just as much as me. Meetings slowed down to just a few close friends playing games and I took it easy on the extra events so I could concentrate on graduating and how I'm going to look for a job (spoilers: nothing so far).

But for the better part of 4 years, I wanted to share my passion for video games in a positive manner and I think I accomplished that. Me and the club introduced a lot of different games to a lot of different people, whether it was Dungeons & Dragons, Super Street Fighter IV, or Halo 3. I'm not sure how it's doing now but the last time I checked in on it, it had a surprising number of members and female membership tripled or even quadrupled., which was very surprising.

It was at club that I met truly like-minded people about gaming and nerd culture. While I won't say they were all that dependable all the time (I still get questions from Associated Students asking if my email is still the club contact email. They have yet to change it), I spent a lot of great nights in that Liberal Arts building with an Xbox 360 hooked up to a projector system and playing Castle Crashers with three other friends while everyone else would glance at the fun while they played the Firefly RPG or something like that.

Those were good times.

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