Gaming with friends transitioned easily to remote and online play during the pandemic, but returning to in-person, side-by-side play has been a much slower transition.
After a year of remote club meetings and events, the Boston University Gaming Club, in collaboration with BU Student Government, is hosting a partially in-person gaming qualifier event for the Red Bull Campus Clutch — a global esports competition for college students.
The game of choice will be “Valorant,” a popular character-based, first-person shooter game with two five-person teams competing in multiple rounds, which was released last June by Riot Games.
BU gamers can participate in the tournament Saturday in person at Balance Patch — an esports center and video game cafe on Commonwealth Avenue— or remotely for the opportunity to advance to the next regional round of competition.
Joe Kwan, a junior in the Questrom School of Business and BU Gaming Club president, said he is looking forward to the in-person tournament following the club’s weekly “Valorant” competitions online with other collegiate teams.
“It’s very different when you’re in the room with your teammates, and also seeing your opponent across the room from you,” he said. “The highs of winning are much higher but also the lows of losing are much greater … honestly an experience that can’t really be replicated otherwise.”
Gabe Moncau, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and media coordinator for the club, said the event is free to all BU students, and solo players are welcome as well.
“Especially during COVID, it’s quite rare that we get to do things in person, especially gaming wise, because it’s so easy to do things online,” he said. “But playing in person, it’s a totally different environment.”
As captain of BU Gaming Club’s “‘Valorant’ A team,” Moncau said the group is excited for the tournament.
Red Bull, the sponsor of the Campus Clutch, is covering the fees of the tournament and Balance Patch rentals.
CAS junior David Joseph, vice president of BU StuGov and student brand marketeer for Red Bull at BU, said the collaboration between BU Gaming Club and StuGov helps grow the video game community on campus.
“We’re able to take advantage of the new things that have happened, such as the growth of the BU Gaming Club and the BU gaming community,” he said. “Having more and more people be interested in these type of things allowed us to plan something.”
Kwan said gamers have adapted well during the pandemic — the club has taken advantage of in-person limitations by utilizing Discord, a video and text platform used by gamers, where the club has hosted its meetings.
“I like to think that gamers are one of the luckier groups when it comes to how quarantine has affected everyone,” he said. “People can still enjoy video games wherever they are, and still be able to play with others fully online. So, we’ve embraced that philosophy as much as we can.”
Moncau said BU Gaming Club is expecting at least five teams, including Moncau’s team. The event is for BU gamers only, and the club needs a minimum of 25 players — five to a team — to host the tournament at Balance Patch and seven in-person teams at most. Four teams are currently signed up, according to the registration website.
The event will be socially distanced, and players will wear masks, Joseph said. He added people can sign up online.
The Campus Clutch qualifiers are taking place worldwide at universities — including other Boston schools, such as Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — and one team from each will advance to semi-finals. BU’s winning team will advance to the Northeast regional semi-final, which will be held April 18.
Joseph said he is excited about this event because of its global reach, as well as his involvement in the organization process.
“It incites me to find new ways to connect new groups and new communities that I’ve never really planned on hitting and reaching,” he said. “I’m happy to at least provide other people with some lifelong memories of opportunities that they won’t forget.”
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