NSU students exploring new opportunities in Gamer’s Guild

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The sound of buttons smashing, cards slapping and dice rolling fills the third floor of the Northwestern State Friedman Student Union on Thursday nights.

Students are attending Gamer’s Guild “meetings” in rooms 320 and 321 — really they are gathering to play video games and card games.

Whether students want to join a Dungeons and Dragons session or participate in any number of themed video and card games going on, Gamer’s Guild president Anthony Renteria says all students are welcome.

“We’ll have games depending on the theme that night — whether it be co-op, Japanese shooters, music, etc.,” said Renteria, a theatre major from San Antonio. “We have a table in the middle of the room with Pokemon TCG.

“We want people to come by and see if they enjoy it. It’s a place to meet new friends, try games you wouldn’t expect to and have a great time.”

The Gamer’s Guild is a registered student organization that came into being about a decade ago, splitting from the SAF Society (Science Fiction, Anime and Fantasy).

“In the beginning, we were focused mainly on table-top (role-playing games) and card games like Magic: The Gathering, but video games slowly creeped in, and now they are a focus,” said advisor John T. Dunn, an associate professor of Fine Arts. “We usually discuss a gaming trend or a topic in the gaming world at the beginning of the meeting, but we spend the rest of time playing.”

No fees are required to join, but a $10 fee is optional to support trips like Cyphacon, a three-day event in Lake Charles in April that showcases products in the anime, fantasy and gaming industry.

Julian Shum, an art and history major from Hong Kong who serves as an officer, said he enjoys playing independent video games that aren’t part of the mainstream.

“These indie games are a fun experience at an affordable price,” Shum said. “But I’m also excited about holiday releases for games on the Nintendo Switch like Super Smash Bros Ultimate.”

Competitive gaming has created the foundation for eSports, which pit players and teams against each other in video and computer games.

Colleges have picked up on the trend as a few are starting their own eSports teams, an idea supported by electronics engineering major Christopher Johnson.

“I would support that 100 percent (at NSU),” said Johnson, the Gamer’s Guild treasurer. “You have to be careful who you put on the team because everybody isn’t entirely a team player.”

Renteria, who has taken a specific interest in virtual reality gaming, said he’s spoken with NSU president Dr. Chris Maggio about the eSports possibility.

“I do see the possibility of it being implemented on campus,” Renteria said. “How our group would be involved comes into question because eSports is about competitive gaming whereas we are mostly about casual gaming.

“Would we compete in team games like Overwatch, Counter Strike or League of Legends, or would it be fighting games where just one player is needed to compete? … A lot of research would have to be done involving equipment, access to that equipment and which games to play, but if we put the time in, it could work.”

Shum likes the idea of a university-funded game room which could support an eSports team but also provide a relaxation outlet for the student body.

Whatever the gaming future on campus, students can blow off steam by playing games with a friendly bunch in the student union.

Members of Northwestern State’s Gamer’s Guild play the card game Pokemon TCG on the third floor of the Friedman Student Union. Any student is eligible to join this registered student organization, which meets on Thursdays.