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  • Mary Joaquin

Celebrating 4 Years of EGD

Written by Mary Joaquin

Edited by Huimin Zhuo


The care of the future of games is ours.

Esports and Game Design Collective celebrates its 4-year anniversary this month, continuing to help both the students of CUNY and beyond find their footing in the games industry.

First founded on November 9, 2016 by Kyra Wills-Umdenstock at Hunter College, EGD has grown to a community of over two thousand individuals. Though operations have moved virtually to Discord due to COVID-19, the spirit of gaming remains ever alive.

An Origin Story

Originally named the Game Design Collective, dedicated to the central goal of game design, a group of five learned Unity and intermittently played Dungeons & Dragons in a basement.

And when the group applied to be a club, there came the first of its many rejections. But when one door closes, another one opens.

Rejected for the same reasons were the groups dedicated to League of Legends and D&D. The then-GDC joined forces with these groups, taking in the E-Sports aspect of LoL to create its new name, the Esports and Game Design Collective!

From that came the rebirth of the group as the EGD, hoping for approval against all odds…!

And got rejected. Again.

Hope was not lost however. All heroes have their own mentor-type, ever ready to stretch out a helping hand. EGD found its own in Hunter College’s theater department through the Baker Theater Building, taking the wandering group under its roof.

The Expansion

Superheroes can have their own fairytale story too, and EGD saw its own; one very similar to Jack and the Beanstalk.

Equipped with a strong Facebook campaign, and armed with the power of promotion (and unauthorized tabling, shhh!), the group burst through the doors with around a hundred members in a year and nearly 500 by the next!

In the first two formative years of EGD, operations turned into a drop-in center. People were free to hang out at meetings and stick around to score different freebies from the budding e-board of the club.

Free League merch? You got it! Cans of Game Fuel? Take one and pass another! And how did the club show others its passion for video games? A GIANT TV…showing only the coolest game trailers, and the funniest club exclusive videos. What better way to attract video gamers than showcasing fun?

At the heart of this were the people. From those who simply popped by to have a look (which proved the big screen TV worked its magic) to those who came in to talk with its members, EGD was rapidly becoming a part of the student body.

In 2018, EGD finally got the long-awaited approval as a club.

The Evolution

The club skyrocketed from the hundreds to thousands in a span of a year. And with growth came necessary changes.

Nov 9, 2016: FIVE

2017: ~100

2018: ~500; approved as a club!

2019: ~1,700; applied to be a non-profit org!

2020: ~2,500

“Each year was vastly different than the year prior,” said Kyra, CEO of EGD. “We [had to overhaul] our leadership system at least twice a year to keep up with it.”

From club officers to staff to leaders, the ever-changing college scene in Hunter meant people came and went. This did not only mean that the club was developing through the people that joined. It meant that the people who have been there from the start had to adapt to new developments.

It sprung a Renaissance of sorts for both the club and these handful of leaders. The club was evolving into something new, with them at the helm. And a thousand people looking to someone for guidance is a daunting image by itself.

So came the trials and errors where leaders all learned about what had to go and what needed to stay. They slowly figured out what had to be done.

But the sacrifices were not for naught. With it came the guarantee that there were constants student members could count on; resources available at every turn, freedom to follow what path they desired through EGD, and that both are as reliable as the leaders strove to be.

From a group that worked to keep that core idea alive to a club that knew its needs and wants, EGD became a family that found its home in a budding dream.

And families never stop growing.

A Vision with a Mission

Like a box-office mega-hit once said: “There was an idea.”

At its core, EGD is just that: an idea that there is a place—a very real place—for gamers to come together. One that reflected the true nature of what a gaming community could be; something that reflected the genuineness of people interested in the several facets of video games.

Be it indie dreams or the hopes of any triple-A; tabletop or console games; any sort of design or content creation, one’s interest alone in any of these facets is enough to join.

But with the passage of time, that idea took root and sprouted, branching new ones that could not be left ignored. And its flowers needed the ability to bloom for several years to come.

It began when the club needed to address the lack of resources Hunter could not provide for the thousand-strong members. The next step was to apply as a non-profit organization.

Its aim? To help students in ways that EGD as a club could not.

“[Our goal] is to make gaming a more accessible opportunity, whether it's an academic opportunity, a career opportunity, or just casual gaming in general,” said Kyra in an interview with AnyKey as its inaugural Changemaker Grant Winner.

It remains true that games have a way of connecting people that speak volumes more than casual introductions. An icebreaker and a common interest all in one—and maybe a friendly match or two, it does not take much to get a snowball of camaraderie going.

But more than the friends that one can make through games is the journey of getting to a goal and/or passion that leads into the future.

It has long been ingrained into society’s mindset that college is tough. And it could be in several ways that are outside of the four walls of a classroom or a dorm room. It could even start way before one even steps into college as a freshman.

“We make sure that CUNY students have all the resources available to them [to address the problems that they face],” said Ben Ruben, CMO/CFO of EGD in a podcast with Litt Inc. “[There are] resources that they don’t know about and [a majority] don’t know what resources to look for or where to find [which ones] they need.

“We make sure that they know where they can find everything.”

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