North Texas Daily

UNT eSports club gains members of all kinds as video games gain popularity

UNT eSports club gains members of all kinds as video games gain popularity

April 14
00:13 2016

Nealie Sanchez | Staff Writer

@NealieSanchez

Being a gamer once meant spending hours in front of your computer or television with friends on the other end of a headset. Today, being a gamer can mean live-streaming on Twitch to followers, competing in nationally televised competitions or joining your collegiate eSports club.

For business junior and UNT eSports club president Justin Yoo, the evolution is almost unbelievable.

“I’m actually in awe,” Yoo said. “I don’t believe it every single day, because gaming was a thing in the early 90’s [and] 2000’s where you were by yourself in a room. Now it’s nationally recognized. It’s on ESPN, it’s on Yahoo, and Mark Cuban is looking into it.”

The UNT eSports club is run through the university in coordination with the Texas e-Sports Association, a collegiate North American eSports association started at the University of Texas at Austin. TeSPA is comprised of 150 chapters with four divisions, and the UNT eSports club is a part of the Southern division.

The UNT eSports club offers a paid membership with a $30 yearly fee as well as a regular membership with no fees. $10 of the fee goes to TeSPA headquarters, and the other $20 helps fund events where paid members can enter drawings to win high value gaming items, like headsets and POP! Figures.

“When you’re a paid member, you also get a lot of benefits from TeSPA like free things sent out and free t-shirts,” painting and drawing senior and UNT eSports club vice president Yuria Matsushita said.

There are approximately 100 paid members out of the 200-plus active members of the club. But because you do not have to be an actively enrolled student to be a member, alumni still come out to events, meaning anywhere from 300 to 500 people will show up, depending on the game being hosted.

The eSports club at UNT was originally dedicated to competitive gamers playing League of Legends and in a few short years has expanded into an eSports club for competitive and leisure gamers across all genres.

The eSports club has five members that run the club. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

The eSports club has five members that run the club. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Even with the addition of casual gamers, the club is known for its competitive team.

“Individual Texas schools like UTA, UTD, UNT, and UT, people know they are strong schools,” business management junior and competitive director Zane Castillo said. “And I think in almost every game we played this year, we haven’t missed the playoffs for any individual game. I like to think when other schools hear UNT, it means something to them.”

The club has competitive teams for five games and competes nationwide. The games include League of Legends, Dota 2, Heroes of the Storm, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. For each game, there are different divisions, with LoL consisting of four different divisions: D1, two of D2 and a D3.

Integrated studies junior Josh Intondi played on this year’s D2 team and said the club is more for community than just gaming.

“I used to have an average of 10 people online to game with, and now I have from 30 to 40 at all times,” Intondi said. “Honestly, it really helps with social development and getting along with people you don’t necessarily know very well. You can’t really trash-talk a person you’ll see every day in person. It makes you hold back and take a teaching perspective.”

The club has also expanded from PC-only games to the inclusion of console games like Halo. The club wants to create an inclusive environment that members can add to at will.

“If we have enough people that want to make a team for a game, we’re fully supportive of that,” computer science junior and event director Ethan Vinante said. “They just bring it to us, and we set it up so that they can make a system of playing the game and making a team and entering the tournaments. And then they come to me with event ideas and things like that.”

The club isn’t just about screen time though. It holds weekly meetings, events and coaching opportunities from skilled gamers, which gets members together face-to-face to enjoy the gaming community outside of their favorite games.

“We understand a lot of the gamers are introverts naturally. That’s why we try to reach out to any of the new members and get people going out,” Matsushita said. “We had a house system for a while where we would break apart the introverts try to bring them out to events. It’s mostly the community because the competitive element is always fun, but not everyone is in it for that.”

In the end, the real victory for these gamers is the recognition they are finally receiving for the past-time they love.

“I’m living the dream right now because my passion is getting recognized,” Yoo said. “And I would like nothing more than that.”

Featured Image: The eSports club watches the Heros of the Dorm NCAA tournament in the Union Syndicate. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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