Brent Everett James, Campus Life Coordinator, recently sat down to chat with student leadership from OCAD U Esports. Read more about what this new group and its members have been doing to keep themselves entertained during the pandemic.
Brent Everett James: It’s great to meet you. Please introduce yourself.
Maya: I am Maya Robles the president and founder of OCAD U Esports. I’m a second-year Environmental Design major specializing in Interior Design.
Brent: What can you tell us about OCAD U Esports?
Maya: I founded OCAD U Esports at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester with five to ten members. We are a student-run group committed to connecting like-minded individuals with competitive events and networking opportunities for post-secondary students across North America. We enjoy playing video games, both competitively and casually, and that fosters a connection—a sense of belonging—with each other. Judging strictly from our official Discord, I would say we now have about 120 students, 10 staff and 10 alumni actively engaging with each other as members.
Brent: How often does the group meet or holds events?
Maya: I try to schedule in-house game events every week. What I mean by in-house, is that I get 10 group members from the Discord and we have a friendly game of (unknown) or Valorant or Counter-Strike, hang out, and have fun.
Brent: What are your more successful activities since the pandemic hit?
Maya: Aside from the weekly in-house games I host, there are student members in Discord that form teams to compete with without my guiding actually. They step up and reach out to each other to put teams together and compete or que with, meaning they enter a que system and then play the game together.
In November, we hosted a Valorant tournament. Coordinated by myself and other leaders in collaboration, we worked together to create a 16-team invitational. We played with over 100 fellow Ontario university and college students from Ryerson, York, Seneca, and Brock and almost every post-secondary institution in the GTA that had an Esports team entered and competed for prizes.
Brent: Can you offer any tips to other group leaders on how to keep a student group active and engaging?
Maya: As the leader of a student group, care about your community and your group and it will show in your efforts. Be genuine, don’t force (participation) too much, and be yourself. The group will sense how much you genuinely care about your players and members.
Brent: Describe some challenges your group or members are experiencing.
Maya: During the pandemic, we have to stay home, so it has been difficult for all of us. While Esports are online and can be played remotely with each other, there have always been things called LAN locals (local area networks)—which exist for almost every competitive game—where you and your team physically go to a Gaming Centre, sit together, and compete. Obviously, with COVID-19 those centres aren’t open, so we miss that.
Brent: What do you have coming up in the next few months?
Maya: As I’ve mentioned, I organize weekly in-house games and members are always reaching out and coordinating too. The best thing is to watch our social media to see what we’re planning and contact us to join so you can get involved.
Contact OCAD U Esports:
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