Esports builds connections within NMU gaming community


Nathan Kwapisz/NW

GAME TIME – Ethan Vadnais and Edward Shifflett officiate the tournament going on in the NMU gaming room.

Nathan Kwapisz

Esports can start from early connections to video games in childhood and blossom into a full-blown club or varsity sport in college. Esports allows players an escape and to make whatever Esports is to them theirs personally, whether competitively or as a hobbyist.

“It was my brother and my dad [who introduced me to Esports]. My dad was a big retro gamer and the first game I remember playing was WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64,” Ethan Vadnais said.

Vadnais, a junior cybersecurity major, got into gaming starting with his family at a young age.

“[Gaming] just helped me a lot through life, from mental things to just stuff in my spare time and even when I didn’t know what to do,” Vadnais said.

Video games offered a perfect escape for him whenever things got complicated. When he joined the Esports team at NMU, he quickly found a group of people he enjoyed hanging out with and a way to continue his love for gaming.

“My favorite memory with the Esports club would be the first tournament I ever won,” Vadnais said. “It was just a group of 12 friends at somebody’s house and we decided to have a tournament because at that time Northern was on break.”

Vadnais said the Esports claub has had a big impact on his college experience and he hopes others are able to find a similar haven as the club expands.

“I hope that we get bigger. We are planning on upping our varsity size, which we already have,” Vadnais said. “All of us here, both club and varsity side, have been reaching out and getting a lot of people’s attention.”

Vadnais has taken up a leadership position in the Esports club and is hoping to keep his members consistent and gain in size as time goes on.

“It’s my love, it’s my pride and joy. I play video games a lot but it’s for a good cause because it’s where all of my friends come from. I’ve made really good friends here that I hope I’ll keep for the rest of my life,” Vadnais said.

Vadnais plans on maintaining his position for as long as he can as he sees the impact that a healthy community can have on members and him.

Edward Shifflett, a clinical psychologist major, has had a similar experience to Vadnais in getting into video games from his family.

“I think it would have to be my dad. He played a lot of Xbox 360 games like Call of Duty when I was really young, and he’d actually give me a controller that wasn’t connected to the Xbox and have me pretend to play,” Shifflett said.

Playing on the Esports team at NMU has helped him hone skills such as problem solving and adaptability.

“I think it’s the overall challenge and ability to learn. Even at these tournaments, new people can show up. I could honestly lose easily,” Shifflett said. “But it gives me a chance to learn and adapt while having the ability to play games with friends, it’s really fun.”

What made Esports club fun to Shifflett was the sense of progression in learning new skills. The Esports team provides informal coaching to students who are interested in improving their skills, but it is not required.

“We can do that based on their attitude, because we’re not going to coach them if they’re not feeling like they want to put the time into the game,” Shifflett said. “We’re not going to force them to do that. But if you want to, then there’s me and there’s Ethan.”

Shifflett stated that an Esports club can be whatever the member wants to make it, whether that is competitive gaming or not. Being a part of an Esports team takes a lot of communication and teamwork which leads to great experiences with your teammates.

“We’ve actually had a problem with people being pushed away because of a poor attitude, that poor environment, so we’ve been trying to fix that to bring more people in and really make this into a community that we can all enjoy,” Shifflett said.

Shifflett’s main goal is to keep and maintain members with a positive attitude to create a healthy and consistent culture in the club.

For more information or questions, contact Vadnais at [email protected].