E-Sports Club uses video games to create student community

edited.eSports_NickMiller_RebeccaKanaskieedited.eSports_SmashBros_RebeccaKanaskie2By Olivia Montes

Elm Staff Writer

Last semester, Washington College introduced a new Student Interest Group—now officially a club sport—where students with a love for video games can engage in friendly competition among each other and with other schools.

The E-Sports club is headed by Coordinator of Campus Recreation Steve Kaneshiki and Dr. Shaun Ramsey, associate professor of computer science and chair of math and computer science.

“The E-Sports club is an all-inclusive group regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gaming skill level. It is a safe space for people to connect and share common interests in gaming,” Kaneshiki said.

The club currently has 68 members, and is only continuing to grow, according to club member sophomore Michael Spence.

“We have only just started this semester, so we really haven’t done anything outside of trying to organize everyone and get them playing with each other to build new relationships and just have fun playing with each other, [with each team] each game generally play together every week for about two hours,” said Spence, the Overwatch Coordinator.

“As we move forward, we will get more into hosting more formal events, but right now it is just about recruiting and getting everyone involved in any way we can,” he said.

Though the club is still getting off its feet, the members are striving to get the word out across campus through interactive gaming activities like Smash Bros. tournaments. All practice sessions take place in the Hall of Fame Room in the Cain Gymnasium, according to Kaneshiki.

“Free play sessions are open to anyone and everyone,” he said.

Competitions against other schools are also in the works. At weekly meetings, club members practice games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The club members strongly believe in the capabilities of the assembled team in future competitions and other endeavors.

“We have a strong group of players, each with their own unique skill sets. Playing other schools will be a fun challenge as we grow and try to get better,” junior Nick Miller said.

Other members, including Ramsey, believe that competition builds a strong sense of confidence and determination within the team, as well as possessing the capabilities to soar to new heights, worlds, and levels together.

“We largely do this by using the competitive environment of many games as a focus. Our group is about building a community around games that we like to play together. Playing other schools has the side effect of also focusing practice in some of these games and it gets WC involved in the world around us,” Ramsey said.

Spence agreed that the group would like to get more experience to prepare for competing against other schools in the future.

“I would personally like to get as involved as we can before the end of the year, so we can come into next year with experience and an idea of where to go next. For a lot of people, just playing with each other is a fun experience as many have just been playing alone, but there is also significant interest in playing other schools. I would love to start playing other schools and maybe join a league next year, especially since playing as a team against other schools can be incredibly fun and rewarding,” he said.

Miller emphasized the inclusivity of the group and the wide variety of interests represented at meetings.

“Whether you play on a console or PC, or wish to play competitively on an intramural team, or you just want to find a few friends on campus to play with, this organization has something for everyone,” he said.

Interested students should reach out to Kaneshiki at skaneshiki2@washcoll.edu with questions or to learn more about practice times.

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