By Alex Pierott
Whatcom Community College’s gaming club on campus focuses on all aspects of gaming. Gaming Club started in 2017 to gather student gamers on campus in a community.
“It’s a socially oriented club to help people meet new people and relax after classes,” said Robert “Bear” Kersey.
Kersey is one of the founding members of the club and was vice president last year. He became president in the fall of 2018, and over time has seen the expansion of the club. Kersey credits the growth to word of mouth.
“We focus on board games, video games, and if it’s a game we play it.” He said, adding that students don’t have to be members to play, “it’s really a come-and-go-as-you-please club. We average 10 or 20 people per meeting though,” said Kersey.
“I have a deep connection with gaming,” said Nick Potter, a film professor at Whatcom and the club advisor. Potter comes from a gaming background and says he has been playing video games since the 1980s. “I feel like it is a narrative art form-not that dissimilar to cinema-I will never say it’s the same art form,” said Potter.
Potter said that the Gaming Club uses nicknames with each other, so that everybody has a chance to invent another version of themselves. Video game culture encourages that “projecting yourself into an avatar, a character on screen this allows you to role-play to self-author.”
Kersey had a class with a student who only wanted to be referred to as “Solo,” which gave him the idea to use pseudonyms within the Gaming Club. The idea stuck.
The club’s partnerships with local businesses include Reset Games on Barkley Boulevard and Wishes in Bellis Fair Mall. Gaming Club has plans to partner with more businesses.
Potter said he keeps up the current trend in pop culture concerning gaming. “You shouldn’t feel stigmatized to say you’re a gamer.” Overall, the Club hopes to see gaming become more normalized.
Potter also acknowledges the “toxic male masculinity” in gaming culture and suggests, “Maybe the club should address those topics, like create some events that create some awareness about toxic masculinity.”
“The club members are incredibly inclusive with all people,” said Potter. “The internet viral videos of people sitting around playing a board game, and someone getting up and flipping the table out of anger doesn’t exist in this club.”
He noticed that there haven’t been active measures taken to increase equity, but that Gaming Club should be focusing on raising awareness. Gaming Club should “hold tournaments that are inclusive to everyone, and pick games that are inclusive and representative of all different types of cultures,” He said. “Or hold a conference of the nature of racism and sexism as it pertains to the gaming community.”
Gaming Club plans to have an arcade cabinet for Orca Day on June, 5th with an old retro arcade system. The club will be in collaboration with Engineering Club and Women in Cyber Security to make the set up for the carnival themed Orca Day.
The Game Development Club, an offshoot of the Gaming Club, is a “bit more serious,” according to Nico Pritchard, a Gaming Club officer and president of the Game Development Club. Pritchard also said that the Game Development Club is working with the Engineering Club to create their own pinball machine.
The clubs coordinate using Discord, a chat software popular among gamers. Kersey expressed the idea of expanding their communication channels using Slack, a similar program common in team environments like offices.
Gaming Club meets in Kulshan 222, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-5 p.m.