There’s not really anything like it, every Saturday I get to go to one of our computer lab classrooms, jump around and yell excitedly about Blizzard Entertainment’s Starcraft II. This is CSL, the Colligate Starleague, founded by Mona “Hazelynut” Zhang over at Princeton University. It started in 2008 and has since has grown into over 240 schools competing around the country. About a year ago, my roommate, GenerallyAwesome, and I founded the George Washington Unviserity CSL team and ended up doing marginally well in the competition. Since, we’ve passed it off to enterprising young sophomores and then returned to our peaceful lives. GenerallyAwesome still competes regularly, and I go to be enthusiastic and get people excited because I’m actually pretty terrible.
The most important part about setting up any kind of offline organization like this is courage. As many of us are painfully aware, the impression is that online gaming isn’t one of the most popular things to be doing and so gathering offline to game and hang out isn’t something a lot of gamers will feel comfortable jumping right into. I felt a lot of this when we were setting up our team (GenerallyAwesome didn’t, he doesn’t care), but I remembered the immortal words of Starcraft II commentator and personality Sean “Day” Plott: Love what you love and show that you love it, people will understand and love you for it. If you are unafraid of what you do and show courage in loving it, people will see that and those that love it too will show more courage themselves.
How do you actually go about setting up something like this? Find people. Absolutely first, and absolutely the most difficult, is to find people. I approached people I knew personally, posted advertisements on Starcraft II forums, GenerallyAwesome emailed relevant student orgs at our university, and posted advertisements on college forums and newsletters. These are the best things, but nothing compared to the courage of the sophomores we handed leadership off to. They ran around campus with signs and hand outs and soon enough a lot of my non-gaming friends were mentioning it to me and it seemed everyone knew that a mysterious “GW Competitive Gaming League” had been formed.
Nerds are notoriously power hungry. Someday I want to do a study on this and see if it’s actually true and what kind of effects that it has, but in our case it just meant that we needed to approach the group with a lot of wisdom. The first thing we did was set up rules. Rule number one: “Don’t do anything stupid”. This means don’t swear at each other, don’t bad manner each other, and treat each other with the utmost respect. We’ve all seen the raging angry gamers, and we were not them. We’re better than that. Rules number two was “We don’t care about your league”. If you’re good at Starcraft II, that’s great, but don’t you dare lord it over people or judge others for being less skilled. The final rule was “Always want to play”. We’re here to play games and if you don’t want to play, don’t come. It takes two to tango, and if one isn’t up for it, the other is left with nothing.
Finally, we left it to sophomores as soon as we could. We found one with vision and plans for where he wants to go with the team and another with a big personality that people could attach to. Both of these are important, the group can’t just be in stasis, it needs a purpose and a draw. Someone has to be in charge of that purpose and keep working on better ways to get there, and someone else has to be there to keep people interested and excited.
For many members of the CSL, this is one of their first offline gaming encounters and comes at a pretty scary and vulnerable point in their lives. These are young college kids leaving home and not quite knowing what to do, I wish I had something like the CSL when I was just starting college to help me make friends and find my place on campus. This right here is the most important effect of the group, it told gamers that it was okay to game and love gaming, there were people here who want to share it right alongside of you.
TwinHits is the Guilds and Social Columnist at AskaJedi.com, a premier source of news and game information about BioWare’s MMORPG – Star Wars: The Old Republic. Leave comments or tweet @TwinHits with your thoughts, ideas, and stories about guilds, communities, and leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic.