Departmental Student Organization allows gamers and gaming fans to take their skills to the next level.
BY VIVIANA SMITH, STAFF WRITER
GMU Esports is a departmental student organization established in 2020 under Mason’s Student Involvement program in order to cultivate a community of talented gamers to compete in local esporting events at the collegiate level.
Originally a smaller RSO club in 2017, GMU Esports joined Mason’s Student Involvement office in 2020, expanding the organization significantly. Housed within the Student Involvement Office in the Hub on Mason’s Fairfax Campus, the space includes multiple gaming computers and provides space for teams to practice and compete.
According to a released statement by Student Involvement, the organization has also gained increased financial and administrative support to further the development of the Esports members.
According to Fairfax County Times, “the Patriots have put together several elite squads across multiple games.” In 2022, GMU Esport had 130 competitors at the varsity level and created an all-woman team.
Senior Hussain Zainal, GMU Esports Department President, says that the organization has grown exponentially in the past 5 years, with the organization consisting of 50 active players, 120 players playing across 10 different games, and roughly 500 community members.
Even for Mason commuters, GMU Esports is a club that is accessible to those who may not have the same opportunities as on-campus students when it comes to extracurricular engagement.
In addition to the opportunities within the organization, Mason’s Esports team hosts an annual event that is open to the entire Mason community, GAMEMason.
GAMEMason is held in the spring semester every year in collaboration with George Mason University’s Student Involvement, the Center for the Arts, Mason’s Computer Game Design program and GMU Esports. This event includes gaming tournaments, free-to-play arcade games, vendors, and more.
The GAMEMason 2023 event included live music performances from the Rock band Bit Brigade and VJ/DJ All Hell Breaks Loose and notable guest speakers from the Gaming industry, including Greg Street from RIOT Games and Carolina Ravassa, the voice of Sombra from Overwatch and Raze from Valorant.
“This year we had all of our varsity games host a tournament all on the same day,” said Zanial. “We had approximately 10 different schools all come out, resulting in up to 150 live spectators in our venue.”
Through Mason’s Esports teams, there are many opportunities to grow in one’s gaming skills as well as develop a strong sense of community with other Mason members.
“With Esports, we were able to assist people in finding other peers with whom they share a common interest and a reason to hang out,” said Zanial.
“Since joining GMU Esports I’ve been able to connect with like minded individuals and continue to push my talents to become one of the top players in my role,” says Junior Patrick Meinen, Mason Esports Overwatch Manager. “I’ve also had the opportunity to really build leadership skills and develop unique friendships and a romantic relationship that I wouldn’t have made without the program.”
Mason’s Esports team provides a competitive environment that allows gamers to take their gaming to the next level while fostering friendships around similar interests.
“I have directly heard from our players that they were glad that they were given the opportunity to compete at a national level for the games they love and also make friends along the way,” said Zanial.
“That is all we are trying to achieve.”