Words By Altair Robinson

Every week I will be interviewing the president of a society, to learn more about each society and to share with readers about these societies.

First up is Video Gaming Society (VGS), a society which runs weekly gaming events Thursday during term time at 6-9pm. During these Thursdays, they have played a range of online games on PC such as Jackbox, Left 4 Dead 2, SCP Secret Laboratory, Unfortunate Spacemen and Among Us. VGS has also ran two large pub quizzes this year and runs a very large community through their Discord who regularly play games together. Kieran ran as the president of VGS for academic year 2020/2021.

Please introduce yourself

“Hey, I’m Kieran. I’m the outgoing president of the VGS this year, and I sat on the committee last year too as Communications Officer.”

Why should someone join VGS?

“First off- because we’re really welcoming and chill for anyone! Unlike a lot of gaming spaces we’re not gatekeepy or hyper-competitive. We’re a chill and relatively close-knit group of friends who play videogames online (next year we’re hoping to go back to in-person meetings instead!) together every Thursday evening during term-time. No gaming experience required.

Our Discord server also functions as a reasonably active discussion board about a variety of video games, so it’s a good place to chat about whatever videogames you feel like chatting about or recommending, and making friends with like-minded folks into the same stuff as you.”

What has been the biggest achievement in VGS this year?

“What I’m most proud of that we achieved this year is our pub quiz format. At Sussex, the VGS was the first society to adapt pubquizzes to a lockdown context by setting out a mixed format of Twitch streams and Discord group voice chatrooms. We saw turnout of over 80 people attend – more than we’d be able to fit in a room in person, and the best a VGS event’s ever seen – and that format has now become standardised across other societies at the university trying to do pubquizzes of their own. So I feel quite proud of myself for all the time I put into making that quiz and thinking through how to make it work in the first place.”

Have you got anything exciting planned out that we should look out for?

“Nothing exciting under my soon-not-to-be leadership, unfortunately- but with lockdown receding (seemingly for good) it means the problems we had to surmount this year can be completely circumvented by our committee next year, in the now probable case that in person activities can return! It means we’ll be able to do some proper couch co-op on a vastly widened range of consoles and games to what we’ve been able to work with this year – a Gamecube, Nintendo Switches and Wiis – as well as organise tournaments in games we never could this year, and have pubquizzes in the actual pub! Exciting stuff.”

How much of a challenge has this year been for running VGS?

“I won’t lie, it’s been hard. I feel my earlier answer about our ‘biggest achievement’ doesn’t tell the whole story- I feel just as proud with how the VGS even survived the lockdown. Covid hit us hard. Unlike a lot of other societies I’m a part of that found it easy to just translate their activities to one-to-one digital replacements, the VGS struggled more than you might think (‘gaming is all online these days!’). Organising online events is a pain when everyone needs the same consoles and games to be able to play together. In person we’d just bring both, but over the web little more than a few individuals will own what they need to participate. As such it’s been a pain to find games that most people or everyone will own or are available for free, to organise weekly events around and ensure variety for (and not ruin by overplaying and running into the ground!) That we’ve still managed to build a pretty close group of friends that come along every week in spite of the humbled scope of what we can organise is something I’d definitely deem a big success- that our soc even survived I’m thankful to the wellspring of effort, ideas and support of my 3 fellow committee members always offer.

To speak personally-

I’m not charismatic, I’m not very talkative, and I struggle with social anxiety pretty intensely. Because of it, I’m not a great ‘face’ of a society, and I’m not a natural leader. I struggle with my memory so I constantly have to write things down so I don’t shirk duties I can’t ignore, and it exacerbates other issues I have with attentiveness- my brain works like darting between spinning plates while others usually just find it easy to balance their attention between things I find exhausting to. I’m also a perfectionist who isn’t the best at delegating tasks to others – if I have a vision for how to do a thing, I struggle to let someone else take the reins on it when I know how I’d like it done precisely in my own mind. I’ve also had to juggle a third-year workload with this job that I’ve known from the start is far outside of my comfort zone and demands abilities that don’t come so easily to me, and lockdown’s meant I’ve had to not just keep the ship on course but actively steer it around a couple of icebergs. And well- we’re still afloat, and I feel proud of doing something to help in that!”

How rewarding have you found running VGS?

“I’ve found running the soc very rewarding for two main reasons I can think of. First off, for reasons I talked about earlier I feel running a society is a job I’m very unsuited for, and something I feel even now is a bit like trying to force the square through the circle hole. But I feel I’ve done a job that I can be proud of at it, and I’m glad I’ve been able to do some real good for others. It’s proved I’m capable of things I didn’t really imagine I would be. I proved to myself that if I really put my mind to it and work hard enough, I can do things I didn’t even think possible. 

The other rewarding thing about it is the community. It makes me so happy to see that people have made lasting friendships and communities inside a space I’ve built. It feels like I’m paying back the favour done to me. I wasn’t in a particularly healthy place in my mind through a lot of my first year here at Sussex, and honestly, some of the worst bits of lockdown haven’t been too much easier. In both of those points and every point in between, societies have been nothing less than a lifeboat for me throughout my time at university. They’ve pulled me into contact with now dear friends I want to keep close to for the rest of my life, a handful of wonderful human beings who I’m immeasurably thankful for over their foundational role in brightening how my life felt to live. To see others have a lifeline and a support network like that through uni, a time that’s isolating even at the best of times, makes my heart feel warm in a way I can’t express.”

What is your favourite video game character?

“Off the top of my head – probably Isabelle from Animal Crossing. I’m awful at the game, but Brigitte from Overwatch is another huge comfort character of mine.”

Do you have anything further to say to conclude this interview?

“Thanks for having me. Please give our society a look! You can find our Discord server at https://discord.gg/s4zfKa2

Categories: Society Spotlight

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