Club uses video game to build community

by Daniel Lee

A giant man clad in polished silver armor trudges through the thick surrounding underbrush. He suddenly stops, hefting an equally large sword, as he notices movement nearby. He abruptly turns and retreats as an enemy emerges from the shadows, following arrows that appear and disappear on the ground before him.

The arrows on the ground are actually due to a click of the right mouse button — several, in fact, as a League of Pirates member frantically hits his mouse button in order to escape the assault of an opposing player.

Such players filled a computer lab in the Eric Johnston Science Center as the League of Pirates club met for a monthly tournament Nov. 3.

The League of Pirates club launched this year to cater specifically to gamers playing League of Legends (LoL) — a multiplayer, battle-themed, role-playing game played online — at Whitworth, club officer Tyler Burke said.

“We just came and talked about starting a club that did more frequent events for the League of Legend players across the campus, because there wasn’t a lot of stuff being done,” Burke said.

WhitCon, a gaming convention hosted by the Gaming Club, has a League of Legends aspect, however the convention only occurs once a year, Burke said.

The officers wanted an environment, not just about gaming, but about community, and thus launched the club with that purpose.

“The premise of the League of Legends club is that it’s more of a community club, instead of Gaming Club where they focus more on WhitCon, which is at the end of the year,” Burke said. “We’re more about meeting up weekly and playing with kids in the computer lab and just having fun on a week-to-week basis during monthly tournaments.”

Out of the huge pool of video games the 21st century has to offer, the club is focused on just one game: LoL.

The club chose LoL not only because it is fun, but also because the game is widely popular, Ranked Teams Coordinator Korey Kinney said.

“League is just a lot of fun; it’s really popular,” Kinney said. “But right now, it is the most widely played game worldwide. There are more people who play League of Legends than any other game.”

In fact, Riot Games, owner of LoL, recently hosted a world championship tournament that saw teams from many parts of the world, including North America, Europe and Asia.

Leading video game publisher and owner of LoL Riot Games recently took notice of the League of Pirates club after the club officers applied for the group’s tournaments to receive prizes from the company.

“Very recently, we got Riot-sanctioned,” Kinney said. “So, being Riot-sanctioned, that means that we can apply to get prizes for our events — like if we hold a local tournament, we can get stuff from Riot that we can give out as prizes.”

The club began the planning stages for a school-wide tournament, which is planned to take place toward the end of the semester.

“We’re looking forward to a new tournament that we’re doing in the winter,” Burke said. “We’re doing a Winter Split Championship for Whitworth and we just got a huge amount money [worth in prizes] from [Riot] — they gave us about $600 in prizes for us to give out for the tournament.”

With this opportunity comes a catch, however. There must be a minimum of eight teams registered in order for Riot to give the club prizes for distribution, Burke said. The club officers said the event will tentatively be held Dec. 7.

The League of Pirates club is dedication to building strong community, regardless of its membership numbers.

“We don’t have any goals for growth. We literally created the club and our mission statement is to unite and strengthen the League of Legends community at Whitworth,” Burke said. “So no matter how small or how big the community gets, before, it’s just there to support it and make events for it.”

This mission of community is evidenced by reactions of students who made new friends and connections with people in the game via the League of Pirates club.

“It was great to be able to meet new people through this game that I like playing,” freshman Brian Schappals said. “It’s nice to know people you can spend time with, as well as play games with.”

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