DePaul Esports Club creates an inclusive gaming community while raising money for charity.
College isn’t always fun and games, but at the DePaul Esports Club, students find a space to destress and relax with like-minded people. On February 3, the group hosted a 24-hour gaming marathon to help raise money and awareness for Lurie’s Children Hospital of Chicago.
Through the organization Extra Life, team and solo participants spent the night competing in games while encouraging family and friends to donate to the cause. The entirety of the event was live streamed by the club on the broadcasting platform Twitch.
“Our Twitch program was just launched and has gotten over 100 new followers in the last few weeks,” said Stephen Wilke, a DePaul Esports coordinator.
Other attendees killed time by participating in a cosplay contest, winning raffle prizes and using consoles set up around the ground floor of the DePaul Center. Some of the popular game choices for the night included Rocket League, Mario Kart, FIFA and Overwatch.
While the club is well-known for competitive electronic gaming, each room at the marathon was set up to appeal to different types of gamers. The TTRPG (Tabletop Role Playing Game) room allowed players to try their hand at DnD (Dungeons and Dragons), and the multiple gaming center room offered laptops for PC games.
“We’re not just competitive Esports, we are gaming in general,” Wilke said.
There were many different students at the event who attended for many different reasons.
Joseph Alem, a freshman studying computer science, heard about the event from his roommate.
“I’m not an avid gamer, but I do like certain games from time to time, like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” said Alem.
Upon arrival, he realized it was a good opportunity to branch out and meet new people on campus.
“I feel like if I just wanted to play games, maybe I would’ve played at home,” he said. “This is a place where you go to meet other people … people who you can play with more in the future.”
Jaden Stern, a senior studying communication, played several games in the first few hours, including Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart.
“I think this event will help me get more comfortable talking about game preferences and meet more people who have different game preferences and tastes,” Stern said.
Anurag Gautam, a first-year master’s student studying business analytics, was in the building to work on an assignment for a class with his friend. They discovered the event after recognizing a PS5 in the room. After signing in, Guatam and his friend started playing the latest version of FIFA, which reminded them of their childhood in India.
“We were like, let’s just play some games over there, because that’s how we used to be in our 15s and 16s,” Guatam said. “It’s good to have our old life back sometimes.”
The 24-hour marathon attracted new people who were hesitant to visit the DePaul Esports Gaming Center, which was Wilke’s intention when planning the event.
“I know that some gaming spaces can be kind of hostile or specifically not amenable to certain demographics and people. We take great pride in ensuring that our space is very safe and very welcoming to everybody on campus,” he said.
Header illustration by Julia Hester