Even the greatest ideas come from small beginnings. For Eastern Oregon University’s 1 Up Game Club, what started as a chance encounter between two friends at Hoke Union slowly turned into a staple of campus culture. Now, five years later, the 1 Up Game Club continues to host a diverse and welcoming community of tabletop and video game enthusiasts from all platforms, genres and niches, with some events along the way.
“It’s basically just a place to hang out, relax, forget your studies and worries for a while, make new friends and play games,” founding member Chris Youngman told The Voice.
The origins of the gaming club are about as collegiate as they come, being the brainchild of two college students, Chris and AJ Fangman. The inspiration for the club began after Chris decided to bring a PlayStation to Hoke Union for a quick escape from the college routine.
“It was just one day when I was really tired of school…I just grabbed my PS4 and PlayStation controllers…and just started playing Borderlands and left a note on the second controller saying join if you want. No one did, but AJ saw me playing games and the next week he approached me and asked if I wanted to help him start the game club here on campus. And I was super pumped for it, and then we had our first meeting a month or two later,” Chris said.
The club has continued to hold meetings ever since, bringing all numbers of students and games to their roster. Currently the club has around 12 active members who attend in-person sessions on Fridays, although numbers have been slightly limited due to Covid according to Chris. On the legendary 24 hour, and more recently 12 hour game nights, up to 40-60 people would join in the fun, Chris reflecting
“The ones I like the most and the ones I hate the most are usually the same, it’s like 12 and 24 hour events. I love seeing everyone get together and play games for so long, there’s no obligation to stay all the time, you can leave and come back after taking a nap or something. And the reason I hate it is I’ve been up for 24 hours and have to put everything away.
Whether you’re staying for a 24-hour binge or just dropping by to say “hi” for a few minutes, the gaming club has you covered. As Chris noted, “We try to keep it variety so we don’t focus on one type of game”, giving people the opportunity to find something they like. Current favorites among members include various episodes of Nintendo Super Smash Brothers with other fighting games like tekken and Dragon Ball Z fighters. If you’re a tabletop fan, then don’t worry, as Chris explained, “we have a whole shelf of different board games that we put out every Friday and people play games, which they want… I think the more popular one is either Werewolf Where Haunting about the House on the Hill.“If nothing hits their inventory, the club has a couple of TVs that anyone can set up their own console or PC on.
Fighting game fans also have something big to look forward to. The Game Club hosts the “Mountains of Might” Super Smash Brothers tournament Friday, February 11 at Hoke 339. Registration opens at 6:00 p.m. with parentheses starting at 7:00 p.m. Registrations are free and occasional matches of mortal combat, tekken and street fighter will take place between matches. According to Chris, the tournament is meant to be accessible to new and casual players.
“We’re just trying to get newbie players to try it out because we know these kinds of fighting games are hard to get into, especially when you go to tournaments, and you have all these people who have been playing for years and will totally kill you.
For those still interested in the more competitive side, the EOU Esports program will also be making an appearance at the tournament as part of a collaboration with The Game Club. Although now a separate group, The Esports Program and The Game Club still often collaborate and support each other.
Beyond ‘Mountains of Might’, no other events have been confirmed, but according to Chris, the club could hold a follow-up tournament to include the EOU football team, which originally planned to join “Mountains of Might”. There are also discussions about the management of a magic the gathering an event.
“We tried to get collaborations with a lot of different clubs, and we have, it’s just always nice, especially after Covid, to build our presence on campus because a lot of people have forgotten what everything offers after almost two years,” Chris said.
Of a lonely night Borderlands came five years of laughter and late-night frenzy on the top floor of Hoke. The EOU 1 Up Gaming Club continues to be a welcoming place for students to relax and have fun for a while. And it’s not just students on campus who can get involved. For anyone who wants to follow club news, play remotely or just chat, check out the 1 Up Game Club discord server.