By Matthew Goodman | firstname.lastname@example.org
A room packed full of electronics draws in students from around campus to the Flagler College Gaming Guild every Monday night. In addition to a night of entertainment, some students find much more.
A fitting video game-themed choice in music, “Big Boss” by Doctor P, blares on the Pandora dubstep station while students take part in a variety of console, computer, card and board games.
Evan Gardiner and Blake-Alexandria Collins started the club in the fall 2012 semester. Currently, the group has 22 members who meet each week.
While many students play console games on the plasma screens, the most noise comes from a table in the corner.
A small group is enjoying a competitive game of “Magic: The Gathering.” Collins leads less experienced players through the game, while having her fun dominating them along the way.
Magic players have to know how to use hundreds of cards. The strategy game, usually played in one-on-one situations, requires players to know seemingly endless amounts of information. Spending time practicing scenarios and combinations takes time. NFL quarterbacks would be jealous of their ability to learn plays.
Collins has been playing Magic for six years. Over those years, the bonds she has made with fellow players has only grown stronger.
“My best friends from back home are the ones who taught me to play,” Collins said. “I still hold very strong connections with all of them. We talk every night, even though we’ve all sort of spread out now. It’s nice, keeping that bond going after so long.”
The players in the gaming guild have all bonded through the game. Collins attributes the founding of her friendships at Flagler to the Gaming Guild.
“I was having a really hard time making friends,” she said. “Then, through meeting David (a fellow Magic player) and Evan, I made quite a few and couldn’t be happier.”
The game is popular throughout the country. Players can be found pretty much anywhere, according to Collins. “It’s not hard to find players, even if it’s just a few.”
Gainesville, Collins’ hometown, has weekly Friday Night Magic events as well Swamp Con, which provides ample opportunity to play the game.
While the Gaming Guild gives students the chance to play every week, some Magic players enjoy it so much they play every day. As with anything, practicing ensures improvement.
Exceptional Magic players can test their skills in tournaments. Many events even offer cash prizes. Collins has gone as far as to qualify to judge these competitions.
The guild occasionally holds tournaments for different games. Last semester, their “Call of Duty” tournament brought in 150 people, according to Gardiner. Twenty participated in the tournament while the others enjoyed spectating, playing other games, and devouring the free pizza and soda.
Gardiner says the Super Smash Brother’s Brawl tournament, held on the Jan. 30, had 23 entrants and around 40 spectators.