Getting My Game On: An Interview With Rutgers Esports Director Justin Winfrey

 

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Justin Winfrey, a Rutgers senior majoring in psychology and minoring in biological sciences, is also the director of Rutgers Esports. After graduation, Justin plans on taking a well-deserved vacation during the summer before continuing his education by pursuing a master’s degree at the Rutgers School of Social Work. Justin is not only an academically gifted student, but an avid gamer. Some of his favorite pastimes include playing video games, playing sports, sleeping (me too, Justin), exercising, and spending time with friends. Clearly, Justin has his hands full with academics, hobbies, and being director of Rutgers E-Sports. However, he always finds time to play his current favorite video game, Final Fantasy 6. As a non-gamer, I was really intrigued by Rutgers E-Sports and wanted to learn more about this fantastic organization.

Hannah: What exactly is Rutgers E-Sports? How can someone join?

Justin along with other Class of 2019 members of Rutger Esports (Source)

Justin: Rutgers Esports is a large Rutgers/Esports organization that caters to all video game players, competitors, and specialists both in and out of Rutgers, providing them with exceptional events, tournaments, clubs, collaborations, and more. The major goal of Rutgers Esports is to give the video game community of Rutgers, as well as the East Coast region, a haven and healthy community where everyone can enjoy video gaming of all kinds, have the chance to network with numerous people that share the same love of gaming as they do, and overall, can have a excellent experience through said events and our various clubs. Though years ago the organization started small, it has grown to become an Esports organization powerhouse garnering an increasing community, great support from many sponsors like NYXL, Twitch, Microsoft, and many others, and continues to crank out greater events as time passes.

In terms of joining the organization’s board, it comes down to how much investment and care a certain person shows within the club they are a part of. When a particular person (anyone for that matter) shows good investment, work ethic, and initiative, they can be recommended to join the organization and once they are interviewed and it goes swimmingly, they are a part of the Esports organization as an officer where they can even grow to acquire higher positions. Also, even if a person is not a member of a particular club, they can still become a member of the Rutgers organization by showing general interest in joining along with a substantial work ethic and willingness to support the cause. Not to mention, a person can even join by proclaiming interest in creating a brand new club among the ones that now exist as well. There are many possibilities to join the organization and we are always welcoming new, budding officers willing to help expand the organization to greater heights.

Hannah: How did you become involved in Rutgers Esports?

Justin: I became involved with Rutgers Esports after a good friend of mine recommended me to become an officer after he saw that I would always show up to Smash club, showing willingness to participate during club, provided a full setup (which was hard during that time), and was overall welcoming to everyone during club. At first I was unsure about joining the organization because I had a lot of classes that I was taking (a number of which were demanding) and I thought the organization would add more weight on my shoulders. However, I decided to join regardless and once I did, the organization was far from a weight on my shoulders. While I had jobs to do for the organization, as well as helping my own club with things like big events, none of them were intrusive (in fact they were enjoyable) and even if I was having a difficult time, members of the organization that grew to be my friends as well as the leaders of organization were more than willing to help me grow accustomed to things. As time passed, I joined a committee with the organization with more important jobs and later even became the Director of Community Relations. During the journey, I garnered greater leadership skills and better understanding of E-sports as a whole and the intricacies that come with leading a committee and an organization of this magnitude as well. Joining this organization was one of the best decisions I made while being a Rutgers student and will always be an excellent experience I will never forgot.

Hannah: Can you talk about some major events Rutgers Esports held this year?

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Justin: This year we had two major events that we have every year during Fall and Spring semester, Fireside Open 2018 and Scarlet Classic V. Fireside Open 2018 was the major event of Fall that hosted numerous gaming tournaments such as Smash, Overwatch, DOTA 2, DBFZ, and many more. In addition, we had many sponsors help with this event, many giveaways, and places where spectators can come and enjoy themselves in casual fun. Scarlet Classic V was the fifth iteration you can say of our yearly Spring semester grand event, which we usually aim to be our “magnum opus” event of the year, exceeding our Firesides. Scarlet Classic V was especially special this year because unlike our previous Firesides and Scarlet Classics that were held in the College Ave Student Center, this Scarlet Classic V was held in the Rutgers Student Athletics Center on Livingston Campus which was a spectacular venue that everyone enjoyed. The event also had the highest attendance of all of our previous events clocking at 1000+ attendees. Like our previous Scarlet Classics and Fireside, the event hosted numerous gaming tournaments (as well as the grounds for the NYXL Overwatch Grand Finals), an artist alley, plentiful giveaways, free play area, and much more thanks to the support of our sponsors. Overall, Scarlet Classic V was one of our best events yet.

Hannah: How did you feel about the first ever collaboration between Her Campus Rutgers and Rutgers Esports?

Justin showing me the ropes on how to play Smash during our collaborative event. (Source: Rutgers Esports)

Justin: It was truly an interesting experience to say the least, and not one that I expected to happen to be honest. Before I even became a Director for the organization I had aimed to do a collaboration with a more female-oriented organization seeing as how I was aware Rutgers Esports did other collaborations in the past with Rutgers clubs/organizations, plus it was mentioned that the organization was looking to expand and look into the female audience more to which I agreed. There was always a stigma when it came to women and video games such as “Females aren’t good at video games”, “Females shouldn’t be interested in video games”, etc. As such, I aimed to finding an organization to possibly collaborate with as an attempt to help Rutgers Esports expand the female attendees for our events/community and to maybe help wipe out the stigmas in regards to women and gaming within the Rutgers community. With that, I spoke with Hannah and Keoni of Her Campus (both of whom I’ve known and befriended prior to joining the organization), planned every detail regarding the event out, and as a result, we had ourselves a great collaboration event that had many attendees and numerous activities that highlighted what makes Her Campus and Rutgers Esports special. It was also a moment where I had to effectively plan something out in great detail and specifics with another group which was quite taxing at times but in reality, if working on something doesn’t make you break some sweat, then the result is not going to be of real worth or substance. At the end of the day, the collaboration went better than expected not only for how the actual event ran, but also this collaboration became the start of a beautiful relationship between two drastically different organizations which is a prominent symbol of how the most different of organizations, people, even beliefs can come together and produce something greater than imagined.

Hannah: If Rutgers was a food, what food what it be?

Justin: It would be hard to describe Rutgers Esports as a food in particular... the best way to describe Rutgers Esports would be like a buffet. You get as much as you want, the cuisine is of different, various backgrounds and types, and you are guaranteed to always walk out satisfied!

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Well, I definitely agree that Rutgera Esports is like a buffet; there is something there for everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike. I can attest from personal experience that the Esports community is extremely kind and welcoming. If you are interested in Esports or just want to learn more about Esports, don’t hesitate to reach out to Rutgers Esports. You can follow their Facebook, Get Involved, or website for all the latest updates. Justin Winfrey is an example of a student who found one of his many passions in a large university by engaging in a smaller community through Rutgers Esports. Perhaps, you can also find your passion by getting involved in an organization such as Rutgers Esports.