Club Profile: Video Game Club Welcomes All Regardless of Experience
At 6:45 p.m. on a Friday night, the blinds were pulled down in Ford 201, cutting off the view of an early evening sun and leaving the room in darkness aside from a glowing projector screen and a smartboard. Usually, these meetings take place one floor lower in the large open space of Ford 102. For tonight, however, the close knit community of the Video Game Club has adopted this particular corner as its home.
When the club started its weekly two hour meeting at 7 p.m., a few individuals had trickled in. Due to the relaxed nature of the meetings, it would take around ten to fifteen minutes more for the true energy to pick up for the night. The bulk of those who showed up were soon settled, and though a few more would meander their way in as the evening progressed, it was always a quick welcome into the warm atmosphere.
According to Co-President Soren Putney (’23), attendance numbers tend to be pretty mixed throughout the academic year. While slightly better when held in Ford 102, there is a great deal of variability depending on course loads and breaks. Attendance drops as stress levels increase, but rebounds to its typical 10 to 15 attendees on a general Friday or even higher on a tournament night.
Although the size of the gathering may vary, one thing is certain on a weekly basis: it’s the atmosphere that counts. The club functions as “more of a social gathering,” Putney noted. “People show up for the vibes.”
Much of what the Video Game Club does is focused on multiplayer fun, but the club’s goals extend beyond that to simply creating a space for others to engage in a shared passion—or explore a new one. Attendees aren’t pressured into playing “Super Smash Bros.” or even the far more relaxed “Jackbox TV.” In fact, several members use the club to play their own games solo while appreciating the social gathering aspect.
The club executives also stressed that there was no threshold for prior experience with video games in order to have a good time. While there are some skill-based games—like the aforementioned “Super Smash Bros.” as well as “Mario Kart”—there are equally as many games for those without any necessary knowledge or ability. “It’s a space for people who do and don’t play video games,” said Putney.
Things have also changed from previous years, where one game tended to dominate the scene at a time and numbers dwindled as those who weren’t interested became frustrated. Contrary to those repeated weeks of “Among Us” that marked the past, the Video Game Club has been “recreated” as a space for everyone, and now thrives with, as Benjamin Weber (’24) put it, a steady membership of “every week people” and those who show up every now and then.
Weber will be a co-president for the club next year, and it’s clear that he has already become very involved with management of the club’s affairs. Aside from getting the games and location set up for everyone beforehand, there are additional logistics to consider in the use of club funding. The majority of funds go towards purchasing new games for the group to play, but even that isn’t as simple as it sounds. Often, to use funds as efficiently as possible, the executive team waits for the games to go on sale. It’s a smart business strategy in the long run, and one that allows them to buy more games based on club members’ suggestions. “Whatever people want to do, we’ll do,” said Weber.
The club also hosts larger, more advertised events such as the “Super Smash Bros.” tournament on Friday, April 21 of this spring. These tend to bring in people from the general Willamette community and have a more competitive edge than normal meetings. As Weber emphasized though, the club will always remain “an inclusive place where anyone that has interest regardless of skill level or background can enjoy a media that we all like.”
If you’re in the market for a chill environment in which to chat away and build community on a Friday evening, it definitely couldn’t hurt to try out the Video Game Club! Meetings are 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday in Ford 102.