Game Renegades help build gaming skills, friendships


Danielle Ferguson/Iowa State Daily

About 120 avid gamers gathered in the Howe Hall Atrium on Saturday, April 4, to compete against one another for Iowa State’s Open LAN gaming tournament. Gamers could join four different game tournaments, including “League of Legends,” “Hearthstone” and “Super Smash Bros.: Melee” and “Wii U” for a $5 fee.

Danielle Ferguson

Austin Thielmann ferociously clicked his way through his team’s lane to take down towers and destroy the enemy’s base.

Thielmann’s teammate Chris Gardner kept his eyes glued to the screen and asked the other members why their tank was attacking.

After 27 minutes of teamwork and mouse maneuvering, Thielmann and his team, We Gottem Coach, rolled their chairs away from their computers to shake hands with their victorious enemies, the Towersnakes.

Thielmann and Gardner were two of about 120 avid gamers who attended the Iowa State Open Local Area Network gaming tournaments on Saturday in the Howe Hall atrium.

Gamers competed against others in the room from about 11 a.m. to about 10:30 p.m. Put on by the Game Renegades club at Iowa State, the event allowed gamers to play in tournaments of “League of Legends,” “Hearthstone” and “Super Smash Bros.: Melee” and “Wii U” for a $5 fee.

This is the biggest event of the year for the club, said Ahmad Al-Shaibi, graduate student in animal science and club member. The club has hosted the event for about four years, and this is the largest turnout it’s seen.

About 15 people came from outside campus; one of whom was Brandon Spoons, 20, from Des Moines.

This was Spoons’ first time attending a community gaming event and even bought a laptop to attend. He said he was glad he came out and had fun meeting new people.

Spoons was part of We Gottem Coach, a team that didn’t meet each other until they arrived at Howe Hall that morning. Thielmann said members of the team were friends by the end of the tournament.

“I’m glad the [Game] Renegades put this on,” Thielmann said. “They need to do more.”

Al-Shaibi said that’s exactly what the group wants to do. Future cabinet members hope to have a similar-sized event next year with a possibility of growing the following years.

The club spent months preparing for the event. Keegan Ferreter, club member and open option freshman, said setting up the event even provided members with problem solving skills to overcome a few obstacles the day-of, including a poor Internet connection — a vital component to the day.

Al-Shaibi said a few members made about 200 feet of cable to connect to one port just so every gamer could get online.

Thielmann said he came because he “just wanted to play,” though being eliminated from the tournament wasn’t his favorite part.

“It was a really nice way to meet people,” Thielmann said as he packed up his computer. “It was a fun time.”

One of the club’s main goals is to provide people the opportunity to build friendships in addition to gaming skills, Ferreter, who will be the public relations chair next year, said. Saturday was a chance for gamers to meet people and participate in friendly competition.

Ferreter said people stay long after regular club meetings, which are held almost every week, to chat and get to know each other, a behavior reflected in Saturday’s tournament. This trend held true at the Open LAN, with a few gamers sticking around for about an hour after the tournament ended.

Even after being eliminated from the tournament, multiple participants stuck around hours after their final match to continue playing games or chat with new friends.

“We wanted to create a place people want to come,” Ferreter said. “It’s a competitive game, but it’s a fun, social game. It’s still a sense of community.”

The club has one more club-wide LAN on April 18.