Video games. Frequently called the most popular form of entertainment, gamers across the globe have found ways to virtually clash swords, hit home runs and save universes.
The 2020s have been a revolutionary time in game development and video games have become more popular than ever. Rather than just single-player experiences, online games have taken front and center stage as one of the most popular pastimes in the world.
At Taylor University, the eSports and Gaming Club has taken full advantage. With over 200 members, the team features both competitive and non-competitive games and is constantly looking for new members.
Senior Brad Lasley is in his second year as president of the esports club and captain of Taylor’s League of Legends team. He holds the job of bridging the communication gap between students and faculty, organizes events, directs funding and runs community outreach to bring other people into the club.
“My personal goal is to continue to expand our esports teams…as well as expanding a more casual scene and hosting more events. Helping them to improve and maybe getting more publicity out for them,” Lasley said.
Taylor currently hosts competitive teams in four different games — League of Legends, Overwatch 2, Rocket League and Valorant — that play against other colleges like DePaul and the University of Chicago with each game having its own team captain.
But Lasley isn’t running the show alone. Like any good League of Legends player, he’s got a team to back him up.
Recent graduate and Staff Lab Teaching Assistant Joey Gorski is the new faculty advisor for the esports team and sees video games as a way to connect with students and for students to become better individuals.
“(A team game) forces you to become better as a person in that you're no longer focused on just, ‘me, I want that dopamine rush.’ It's focused on me and my team, and so we're working together towards a victory,” Gorski said.
While to some, gaming can seem a solitary pastime that excludes rather than includes, each member of the club sees it as an opportunity to grow as a person, meet new people and just have some fun hanging out with friends.
Sophomore Nick Bragg had learned about the club while leading his own esports group at Eastbrook High School and is now the vice president. He feels specifically called to help grow the casual side of the club and is focused on reaching out to other students to build the community.
“Our goal is to kind of give people a place to come play and enjoy games because the casual element I think is maybe the biggest part because not everyone's coming in to play at the highest level,” Bragg said.
To accomplish their goal, the club hosts their famous pizza parties where anyone can come to the esports lab in Euler and play a wide variety of games like Minecraft and Super Smash Bros.
The community realizes that not everyone has to know the difference between a down-smash, wavedash or forward-air. It’s not all about tense moments, clutch wins and pixel-perfect shots. The club is always looking for new members to join and hang out casually.
“One of the goals of the esports club is really to provide a place for people to connect and grow through video games, which can be a very isolating experience as well as to make sure that it's a Christ-centered experience,” Lasley said.
While each competitive team may not yet be reaching a top rank, every player is dedicated to bringing their best to every event, regardless of whether they’re getting aces in League of Legends, or just playing some Super Smash Bros. on a Friday night. The Taylor University eSports and Gaming Club: Rated E for Everyone.