By JW McNay/managing editor
Campus collaborates with community for tournaments
Students and community members of all abilities joined to compete, socialize and learn from one another Sept. 20 at the second Games for Change video game tournament on TR Campus.
The event was a collaboration between multiple TR departments, Gamers United, the Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences (TABS), My Health My Resources Tarrant and Gamestop. It began with a few speakers discussing the benefits of gaming for socialization as well as ways to increase access to technology such as video games to people with disabilities.
MHMR Tarrant first reached out to TR English associate professor Johansen Quijano to help with assistance in setting up some video games as an activity for their clients, said Brandy Qualls, MHMR program specialist in supported employment.
“We serve people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and with that a lot of times comes physical disabilities,” Qualls said.
During the event, MHMR clients were paired with senior TABS students studying how to create assistive technologies for people with disabilities and better understand disabilities, TABS chemistry teacher Lucas Tucker said. TABS students could socialize, game and eat with their partners at the event to gain insight and new experiences.
“We think one of the important things about designing for somebody and designing for a situation is you have to understand the personal connection,” Tucker said. “It helps our students empathize, and if they empathize, they’re more likely to come up with better ideas and more effective solutions.”
Solutions include devices like adaptive video game controllers to help with physical therapy and occupational therapy, TABS physics teacher Jay Kurima said.
“The next time it [Games for Change] comes around, we hope to have our devices or [at] some point will have some of those devices ready to show,” he said.
TABS student Kaleb Morris spent the day with Jerry Richardson hanging out, playing Mario Kart and Go Fish.
“People get misunderstood. You have to be open. Don’t just look at them and judge them by what they might look like or the way they talk,” Morris said. “And we’re bringing it back to the classroom, and we’re just going to all compile what we’ve learned.”
Gamers United, the TR gaming club, ran brackets for five games: Mario Kart 8, Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat X, Dragon Ball FighterZ and Super Smash Bros. 4.
Each game’s bracket received over 64 sign-ups, TR student and Gamers United president Riley Pickering said. The 15 winners from top three had four winners from MHMR and 11 winners from TCC.
“This tournament was sponsored by GameStop,” Pickering said. “They provided us with all of the consoles and video games and prizes as well.”
TR student Yovanny Montelongo finished third in Mortal Kombat X, which was his first ever tournament. People should try tournaments out as a way to have fun and meet people, he said.
“I think games are a really good way to include everyone,” he said. “It’s one of the most diverse communities on the planet that I know of at least.”
TCC director of institutional diversity and inclusion Andrew Duffield said one goal of the event was to gather individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
“I think that communication is the number one barrier to all of the problems that we have in society,” Duffield said. “But when you put a catalyst in the middle like this, you’re going to break down those boundaries and bring different perspectives and different individuals that probably wouldn’t necessarily get together at any given time, but they’re together here.”