“This past weekend,
I had a unique opportunity to participate with the OU Gaming Club.” Anita Ly, OU MBA alumna and self-declared non-gamer, shares her perspective as a non-gamer but avid supporter of the OU Esports Department and Gaming Club.
Left to right: Zachary Satz, Brandon Villarreal, Christopher Nguyen, and Anita Ly
As a self-declared non-gamer, my gaming experiences stopped with my random trials of Super Smash Bros. Melee back in 2008 and Guitar Hero when it was the must-have entertainment. That being said, when I met Mike “Moog” Aguilar in 2019, now Director of the OU Esports & Co-Curriculur Innovation and Advisor to the OU Gaming Club, I heard the passion in his voice and the vision he had for his students and future generations. Anyone who’s spoken to him understands how easily it is to get captivated by his energy, and I knew that I wanted to support this journey. A few years later, I handed over my donations as an OU Graduate Alumna, and offered to spend the weekend volunteering alongside his students to ensure a successful event.
What I didn’t expect to see was how impactful the three-day Back to School event would have on everyone that walked through the doors. Sitting at the registration desk all three nights, I witnessed shy and anxiety-ridden freshmen lurk in a corner, overwhelmed by the competition and mass of gamers present. However, as the night progressed, I watched these same students being actively welcomed into the fold by the club’s Ambassadors and Leadership team members. Soon, I saw them laughing and opening up. As a rare extrovert in the crowd, I found myself bouncing around talking to students and learning their stories. Student after student expressed their surprise at the community they had discovered, and the fear of living away from home after the turmoil in 2020 suddenly faded into the background. I heard freshmen exchanging Discord names and making plans to meet up for game nights and food, asking club members when the next in-person event would be, and not wanting to leave even as the lights were dimming in the space.
Like many Millennials, I grew up being told that gaming was bad for my grades, physical health, eyesight, and future. However, the more time I spent with the Leadership, Coaches, and club members, the more I saw how positive of an impact gaming has had on each of them. For many, it gave them a purpose in college while upcoming classes and the unknown future felt petrifying.
Having a community that understands the common passion and desire to turn the collective vision into a reality spurs energy. OU Esports requires a minimum 2.5 GPA requirement for scholarships, and this has propelled students to prioritize academia, with everyone holding each other accountable. Lastly, the Gaming Club gives every member a family on campus, a term that I heard repeatedly over the weekend.
Although some of the stereotypes of gaming and gamers still ring true, the majority of the negative connotations have dissipated over the last few years. With more and more research showing the positive impact gaming can have, leaders in the OU Gaming Club are prioritizing the community and mentorship potential first and foremost, resulting in a team of students that advocate for each other and are humble to their success.
Standing outside the venue and observing the creative energy around me, although I initially felt like an outsider simply volunteering, gamers from all walks of life embraced me into their fold and offered to teach me. Whether it was one of the top contenders during the Smash and Strive tournaments, a casual gamer playing Mario Kart, or even a player on the Crimson Valorant team, everyone expressed inclusivity, something rare to observe.
The three days spent taught me a lot about the growing gaming community at OU. They are guided with the right intentions, they have a phenomenal student-led organization, and they provide a safe space for nerds to unite. As an entrepreneHER and supporter of meaningful visions, I look forward to seeing how the freshmen class evolve over the next four years under a supportive environment.
– Anita Ly