"Super Mario Bros," "Mario Kart," and "Guitar Hero" theme songs played out into the Key West Ballroom of the Student Union as students poured in. Some brought their own games or consoles, knowing exactly what they wanted to do, while others wandered in curiously and scoped out which games were available to play or watch.
For the first time, UCF Gaming Knights, a student-run organization focused on console gaming, and Campus Activities Board collaborated to host a Gaming Knight on Monday.
Gaming Knight was created to be an inclusive, free and fun night for any students who were interested in playing games or watching movies. The event included board games, video games, a movie screening, free food and a photo booth.
Sophomore entertainment management major and CAB Special Events Director Angely Tolani said she was the one who came up with the idea to partner up with Gaming Knights when she saw the group tabling in the Student Union.
“We started planning this back in November, and I thought it would be cool to do something with [Gaming Knights],” Tolani said.
There was a large round table and corner space dedicated to board game lovers and five video game stations where students could use the consoles already set up or plug in their own preferred consoles and set up shop at the same table.
The ballroom next door was turned into a makeshift theater for the movie screening later in the night, where students could get a bag of popcorn and relax.
Sophomore game design major and Vice President of Gaming Knights, Audrey Luce, said the organization was excited about the event from the beginning. Gaming Knights usually hosts game competitions within the club, but the group wanted to invite more of the student population to join in on a laid-back night of gaming instead.
“It was an opportunity to grow Gaming Knights, but it was also to help bring the social experience of gaming to those who don’t experience it often," Luce said. "We wanted to offer a fun and social experience to enjoy games and meet people."
Alexi Saliba, junior business management major and CAB cinema director, said hundreds of students expressed interest in the event on social media.
“I’m surprised people stayed the whole four hours, and there was even a line to get in," Saliba said. "I think the students loved it. I would definitely do this again. I think it was really interactive, and that’s what students want — to interact."
Every gaming station was full, and most were surrounded by small audiences. Although the pizza provided ran out within 20 minutes, the popcorn and snow cones were there to hold over hungry gamers.
“There was definitely a lot more people than what we usually have," Luce said. "I think people felt more comfortable coming and they were able to have fun with gaming."
People filtered in and out all night, but according to Luce, the headcount was over 200.
Representatives for both CAB and Gaming Knights said they would be interested in hosting another Gaming Knight together since this one had such a large turnout.
One thing Tolani and Saliba would change though? "More pizza."