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LCCC hosts virtual Mario Kart tournament

LCCC held four virtual Mario Kart tournaments during the fall semester to uplift student spirits amid virtual classes and pandemic blues.

Each event, held on Oct. 15, Oct. 22, Nov. 9, and Nov. 19, offered prize incentives for students to win. First-place winners received a $50 visa gift card, second-place winners earned a $25 LCCC bookstore card, and third-place winners collected an LCCC sweatshirt.

Gene Eden, director of student life brought the idea into motion after noting the increased interest in professional gaming over the years. Due to the pandemic forcing schools to move to online learning, Eden researched what activities other colleges offered their students and found that many offered virtual gaming tournaments.

“…many colleges and universities are holding individual, virtual gaming tournaments,” Eden said. “Especially now as many are working [and] learning remotely, and this type of event works well in a virtual environment. Additionally, Esports programs, where at some colleges and universities it is considered an intercollegiate team, has been growing in popularity over the last several years.”

According to Eden, the student response “has been great so far,” as the game options were polled from students through the LCCC portal to ensure student interest. Mario Kart won that poll by 40 percent, with Super Smash Bros following close behind. As a result, student life offered a gaming night with [MC1] Super Smash Bros.

Eden explained that the goal of these virtual tournaments is to provide students with a break from any stress.

“The goal of this event is simply to allow LCCC students to come together for a fun, social event and hopefully find it to be a good break from classes, work, family responsibilities, etc,” Eden said.

If student life observes enough positive feedback from the tournaments, they may hold the event again in the spring semester. Most participants enjoyed the tournaments.

One first place winner, John Hall thinks “they should definitely do this again,” but would like to see a wider variety of games next time.

“This was a ton of fun,” Hall said. “[The tournament] was a great idea… since COVID-19 took a lot of fun things away from us this year.”

Fellow competitor Jay Bowen agrees with Hall. While Bowen didn’t place in the competitions, he feels grateful for meeting new people.

“I felt like entering another world [during the tournament],” Bowen said. “It was really fun…No, [I didn’t win], but the only thing I did earn was a friend [and] I’m glad.”

Overall, Gene feels satisfied with the experience and the turnout.

“As with most things since COVID-19 hit in March, there is a large learning curve about what programs and events work best in the virtual realm,” Eden said. “There has been great [feedback] from [students at] other colleges and universities, professional organizations, and programming agencies to help create a campus life experience for students which is engaging and well received by students.”

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