A player shook the table as he slammed his fists down and cursed the defeat, but was then quickly immersed into a fit of laughter among his other defeated teammates. Ten minutes earlier, they had just met.
The energy runs high at the League of Legends Club here on campus. What started as a Facebook group has grown into a community like no other.
In the spring of 2014, senior computer science major Angela Mo and junior information systems major Kevin Wohlenberg responded to the interest expressed in the Facebook group and set their sights on creating the club.
“We wanted to find League of Legends a home in Stony Brook. There are so many people on campus who play the game already,” Mo said.
At that time, the Facebook group had around 500 members. Now, it has nearly 1,000 members. The club was formalized in the fall of 2014 and now holds meetings on Fridays at 2:30 p.m. in Humanities 1003.
The demand for its creation should come as no surprise. According to riotgames.com, 27 million people play League of Legends each day, making it the most played PC game in the world by far. This popularity has translated well into the club’s attendance. Despite being relatively new, the attendance is commonly 60 to 80 members per meeting, and has gone as high as 147 members attending one meeting. That day, they overflowed into another room.
Just what has people so addicted?
“I’ve been playing for a couple years… and I still feel like, in every game, I can improve,” sophomore computer science major Taran Carim, a general body member, said. “There’s a lot of development when you’re playing the game and I think that’s what I like the most. I’m glad that we have this club, and I’m especially glad that it’s grown so much… It definitely has a much more social atmosphere this year, and I think that’s a big reason why I come back to it each week.”
Junior civil engineering major Andrew Brennan, the club’s competitive team organizer, also commented, saying, “The atmosphere is great. Everyone’s talking back and forth, playfully yelling to the other people they’re playing against. Everyone seems to enjoy communicating and that’s a great thing to have. Especially inside a game that’s meant to be in a computer. Here, you see the face behind the screen.”
A quick scan around the room revealed a great display of diversity. With this many people, you are bound to get different kinds.
“It breaks down a lot of the stereotypes about gaming,” sophomore human evolutionary biology major Layne Mapes, vice president of the club, said, “You get so many people in here. You have people who are in marching band, or are doing mechanical engineering, doing chemistry, public relations, sororities, fraternities. They all just have a mutual interest. It’s not like the preconceived gaming culture. This is an example of people who love to be social.”
The League of Legends club strives to be as inclusive as possible. This year they are implementing a mentoring program in which people can come with little to no knowledge of the game and be guided by an experienced player.
Another incentive for attending the meetings is the physical merchandise that is often awarded, sponsored by Riot Games, the publisher of League of Legends. The company has also established competitive collegiate tournaments for scholarship opportunities and prize giveaways.
“The benefits of having this club, in the long run, is that it will be recognized as an eSport and that will open up potential for others to join in and participate in tournaments nationally, playing for scholarships,” sophomore physics and math major Sanjay Singh, the event coordinator, said.
In the North American Collegiate Championship or NACC, for example, teams compete playing League of Legends and individual players can win up to $30,000 in scholarship money.
Essentially, playing video games could potentially pay for tuition.
“There are a lot of times where everything seems very revolutionary, things seem new, people think it’s odd,” Brennan said. “But everything grows at some point, especially with things like scholarship tournaments such as the NACC and CSL, this is a great area for all schools to participate in, and I want us to hopefully be the frontrunner for the Long Island area.”