By Christian Buday
GameCon is a convention that takes place here at Fitchburg State University every April. Students get together at the Recreation Center for an evening of fun. They can play games at video game booths, show off their cosplay costumes and compete in tournaments for prizes. The Housing and Residential Services currently hosts GameCon, although there is more to it than that.
The original founders of GameCon at Fitchburg State University were members of the Anime Club, who conceived of the idea in 2006. The Anime Club, which screens episodes and films of Japanese cartoons, hosted GameCon for many years.
When GameCon began, it had a very different look than it does today. It was a small event the Anime Club would put together in the Hammond game room. Soon after, the president of the Anime Club in 2009, Adam Gwozdz, who was also part of information technology and a residential assistant here at Fitchburg, used his connections with the Housing and Residential Services to expand GameCon. The event became bigger and better than before. The Housing and Residential Services’ involvement was mostly financial with some advertising while the Anime Club provided the planning along with the game consoles. The Anime Club members ran the event and IT also stepped in to provide equipment and staff.
There is a history between Anime Club, IT and Housing and Residential Services. Housing and Residential Services did not respond for comment on the subject. However, one of the Anime Club past members was available to share his story, Jared Cyhowski, former President of the Anime Club and a 2011 graduate provided his recollection of an event that happened.
During the fall of 2010, Jared and fellow Anime Club member Aidyn Kulick began preparations for GameCon 2011 with the Housing and Residential Services and IT. What Cyhowski and Kulick did not know was that Housing staff were already planning GameCon on their own, without the knowledge of or involvement of the Anime Club or IT. Cyhowski and Kulick were more curious about what was being planned than upset and learned about the weekly meetings being held by the Housing and Residential Services.
Cyhowski, Kulick and two other members, the Anime Club Vice President and the Treasurer, attended one of the meetings and felt they were met with hostility. Housing staff had their own plans for GameCon and did not intend to work with the Anime Club on the planning. “My understanding is the students who were there representing Housing and Residential Services’ idea of GameCon at the time did so possibly without knowing Anime Club was involved, but at the same time, some of them absolutely knew,” Cyhowski said. Cyhowski and Kulick went to the head of student activities and told them about what happened.
The following week, Cyhowski and Kulick put together a PowerPoint presentation for the Housing and Residential Services about GameCon and how they were going to plan it. The Anime Club hosted GameCon in 2011 and continued to host it until 2015.
During GameCon 2015, the previous president did not show interest in hosting GameCon and Housing stepped in to host GameCon on their own in order to keep it going. For GameCon 2016, the Anime Club still wants to be involved. The current president of the Anime Club, Suzanne Karioki, has shown interest in wanting to host GameCon or at least be involved in the planning. “I know, even if we’re working with IT or Housing, I want to at least have our name on it again and make it as fun as it could be,” Karioki said. A partnership between the groups could be beneficial. Blending ideas from multiple groups would provide an opportunity to make it the best it can be.