By Brian Craddock

2Students looking for a place to play video games with friends competitively, or just looking for a place to relax after a tough week need to look no further than Algonquin’s Competitive Gaming Club.

The club, headed by its founder, third-year game development student Bruce Szego, provides a place where people can compete with fellow students in a selection of fighting games, like Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros.

Szego, a competive Street Fighter player, started the club shortly after his arrival at Algonquin in the Fall of 2012 with his classmate, Matt Cybolsky.

“In 2009 I was living out in the boonies and all I had to play was Street Fighter IV and netplay. Netplay sucks. It’s really laggy and it’s pretty fraudulent.” Szego says that when he moved to Ottawa, he was struck by the community, although it was on completely the wrong end of town for him to attend get-togethers and tournemants.

“It’s like an hour and something bus ride. So I thought I’d organize a west side gathering, and that if I took game development, I guessed I could start a club, book space, and maybe get funding.”

This proved to be a great idea, as since it’s inception, the club has become quite popular, growing from five or six people when it started, to almost 50 people a week nowadays for it’s weekly events, and almost double that for their monthly Smash Bros. Melee tournements.

Cybolsky and  Szego both have quite different tastes in games, but they share one passion: Gaming competitively.

“He (Szego) is involed in a lot of fighting game stuff, and I’m involved in the Starcraft and Dota communities, and we figured we’d team up.” Cybolsky said regarding their founding of the club.

For every genre of game there’s something different.

Initially, the club didn’t have a great place to meet. It relied exclusively on classroom space, until after he booked out a computer lab, which he wasn’t supposed to do.

“We got in mad shit for it,” Szego said “My game dev professor thought I was the devil because I was booking out all this expensive equipment.” The story has a happy ending though, as the year after the club started, the Student Commons opened up, and the club has since made their home there in the dedicated club spaces.

A side effect of the club’s enduring popularity means there is high demand for equipment such as controllers and televisions, and as a result, the club relies heavily on equipment donations.

“For every genre of game there’s something different,” Szego said “You either need a dedicated community of peple running it weekly, or it needs to be friendly enough equipent-wise where I can just run it without taking stations away from other students. So for fighting games, I’ve had a lot of volunteer equipment, because lag sucks and people are always looking for local play.”

This reliance on specialized equipment is also part of the reason the club plays fighting games pretty much exclusively.

“Getting shooters running, the main problem is there’s no Xbox Live or Playstation Network.” Szego said that while it’s technically possible for him to go to IT to get the network configured, “It’s a lot of work to do that and there’s a lot of red tape involved.” In the end though, he says “The SA has been very helpful, but that’s probably because it’s not just a half-dozen nerds in a room pressing buttons anymore.”

The club has proved to be quite popular, as according to Szergo “We actually get a lot of students out from Carleton and OttawaU simply because they don’t have enough equipment, regular meeting spots or someone with enough free time to host.”

The club even attracts people from hours away, with people coming in from as far as Montreal for some of their larger events.