Story by Oscar Jimenez Iniguez
As California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) clubs all around campus go into full effect, the Super Smash Otters Club is growing strong with its second-year Club President Micah Rodriguez leading the way.
The Super Smash Otters Club is a gaming club at CSUMB where students come together and play the popular Nintendo crossover fighting game “Super Smash Bros.” However, Rodriguez feels as if his gaming club is more than just what its surface level offers.
“I would say we are a community, we are definitely more than just a gaming club,” Rodriguez said. “You may walk in and see people playing games, but if you observe harder, you’ll see that there is a lot more going on. It’s what happens between the people playing. I think that’s a huge aspect of our club, and a word for that is just community.”
Rodriguez is dedicated to making the Super Smash Otters Club an inclusive environment where anyone regardless of skill level can come and enjoy playing “Super Smash Bros.”
“Everyone is allowed, everyone is available to come. There are no gates,” said Micah. “I always try to remember everybody’s name, as we are all on the same level. I like to get to know people. I check in on people and I definitely think that helps build the community.”
The “Super Smash Bros.” franchise is near and dear to him, as the game has been an ever-growing passion of his that goes back long before he can remember.
“The first time I played Super Smash Bros. ever, I can’t tell you the exact date, but I must have been unable to speak,” said Rodriguez. “I remember always liking it because it had Mario in it. And Mario was one of my favorite characters back then, he is like my idol.”
His passion for the game eventually bled into his love for the community when he started to observe tournaments online.
“I liked how people would pop off over games, I liked how people talked about the game, I liked how people celebrated the game. It was really interesting,” said Rodriguez.
Growing up, he did not have people to play with and when he did, he felt as if he was too good for his friends and not good enough to play in tournaments. That was until he attended his first Super Smash Otters Club meeting at CSUMB.
“I started to attend smash club and I saw the way these people interact and I was like, this is exactly what I expected and this is why I like this community, this culture. I like the way people come together and just talk about the game and it is always interesting to finally see people playing at the level I did,” said Rodriguez.
He didn’t mind putting in an extra hand as he wanted to make a name for himself in the club. This made him realize that he wanted to run for president when the club election came around. When he won, he went straight to work trying to improve the club from within.
“My main goal has been trying to increase the accessibility of the club, the welcomeness, and trying to make every member a part of the club. Rather than just hosting the club, rather than just saying, OK we are gonna have the event, rather than the presidency just being a title, I really want to make every member feel like this is something we are all doing as a collective,” he said. “Without you guys, we would be nothing. Rather than seeing myself as the president and my officers as their roles, they are just another part of the club and we just kind of lead the back.”
Before Rodriguez leaves CSUMB, he wants to use his position as president of the Super Smash Otters Club and love for the “Super Smash Bros.” franchise to throw an event that will solidify his mark on the university.
“So when I think about a main one big goal I sort of think about the footprint I want to leave behind on CSUMB. And for that I think one of the biggest things I want to do is hold an event that really brings to life my vision of what I think of gaming as a whole to be. Being as passionate for the ‘Smash Bros.’ gaming community, I would like to show the school how beautiful that image can be. I want the school to experience what I think is the best way to play and experience games.”
The Super Smash Otters Club meets each Friday from 6-9 p.m. in Heron Hall room 118.