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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

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The thing about the Video Game Club

Nigh two years ago, I entered the club fair as a first-year without many expectations. Certainly, I had high hopes, but as it was my first time interacting with the greater student community of Notre Dame, I had no particular picture in mind. Despite being in my same 2026 class, there were people who clearly were intimately acquainted with the university and its student groups. There were those who had dreamed their entire lives to come here and knew precisely what they wanted. I was not one of them. I was lost. Excitedly so, but lost nevertheless. I merely looked forward to finding something, anything to belong to.

As I entered the giant Notre Dame stadium, which I had only seen from afar at that point, I was overwhelmed by the choices before me. A member of what I presumed to be the Student Activities Office handed me a piece of paper with dozens — if not hundreds — of clubs and organizations to join. 

This was it, my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine myself, to rebrand and mold myself to whatever I wanted my college self to be. The fabled tales of the grand college experience were deeply connected with their clubs and passion community projects beyond the classroom. Following a deep breath, I strode within the heart of the beast.

At once, the cacophony of the hall coalesced with the inevitable identity crisis that intercepts anyone who attempts to fit themselves into a single box. I could go for an academic club, I supposed. Or perhaps an athletic one? Definitely a service one, but which one? A political one couldn’t hurt either. Should I be thinking in terms of fun, learning or doing? Is this for my profession, for my artistic life, for a spiritual awakening, for something different altogether? Job, grad school, academia, something else? How many organizations can I belong to at once? What’s the best combination? What, where, how? What should I do?

I spotted the obvious answer shortly thereafter. In the very near proximity of the entrance was a two-table set dedicated to the Video Game Club. I hesitated for a moment, and then walked away. I had been passionate about video games my entire life — their development, their conception, their magic — and that was the very reason I walked away. I should explore other options, no? I should try to discover something else, something more, no? I knew that was a lie, but I kept walking away. 

I coursed the entire fair and signed up for everything in which I had the minimal interest in. To this day, emails from these organizations appear and promptly disappear off my inbox. I attended a handful of their meetings, but that foretold spark never set off.

With one exception.

After completing a full lap of the club fair, the exit stood before me. I cannot say what it was, but something came over me. I turned around and I went through the entire fair once more, now in reverse order. I did not approach any of the stands despite meticulously analyzing each and every single one from a distance. Just as I was about to properly depart, my eyes drifted to the tables that initially caught my attention. 

“Hey! You! Yeah, you!” I do not remember who changed my life that day, but his voice and finger were directed straight at me. “I know you want to! Do it!” In his other hand stood a QR code for me to scan. Half-mindlessly, I did. I joined the Video Game Club that day. What did I have to lose?

The following week I received a follow-up message informing me about an event they were hosting. I ignored it at first, but they decided to resend the advert a few days later. With mere hours to spare for the registration deadline, I couldn’t think of anything better I had to do on that timeframe, so, yet again, half-mindlessly I signed up.

That day, I met my future girlfriend. That day, I met my future best friend in college and became part of a group of people where I could truly belong, who would inspire me to change on my own terms. The second I let go of these ideas of absolute maximum efficiency is when I became not merely happier, but these abilities I was so obsessed with developed naturally while having fun. A mere year later, I would become the president of the club.

The thing about the Video Game Club is that it is an academic club, but it isn’t. The thing about the Video Game Club is that it is an artistic club, but it isn’t. It’s an athletic club, but it isn’t. It’s a recreational club, but it isn’t. By all metrics, it refuses to delimit itself to one of the many boxes we supposedly must conform by. These boxes that demand that our every action must directly demonstrate a step in the right direction, assuming with great hubris as if it knew what is best. They do not and never have. Once we accept that, I believe we flourish. 

Absolutely, the Video Game Club offers students an opportunity to explore their interests in just the right capacities — it does have the criteria the boxes demand, but without smothering the self. Whether it is by attaining professional hard skills in tech as part of the Game Development section, or communication and teamwork ability from the E-Sports elite units, or the genuine, actually useful networking that comes out of sharing your true passions with others in the field as part of the general meetings. Yet above all else, the thing about the Video Game Club is that it feels as if it doesn’t lie. It doesn’t force that terrible blindfold we have dawned against ourselves. 

With a brand new Gaming Lab unveiled in the ITC building and the biggest event the club has ever hosted, the Gaming Olympics, coming up on April 6th, the club has a lot of work ahead of itself and a wide variety of new opportunities to offer to its members.

I personally think it’s pretty cool. Though, I’ll be the first to admit I am a bit biased. I’ve had a pretty good run there. Perhaps, you could too.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.