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South Valley Riverton Journal

Gamers Guild unites at Oquirrh Hills Middle School each week

Mar 08, 2023 03:36PM ● By Morgan Olsen

Students play Magic, the Gathering at Gamers’ Guild. (Morgan Olsen/City Journals)

Students at Oquirrh Hills Middle School rush into the gym after school every Monday and Wednesday to set up their Nintendo Switch, unroll their gaming mats and spend an hour at the Gamers’ Guild. 

“The Gamers’ Guild is an after-school activity where students can get together, get to know each other and play games with each other,” one club adviser, Andy Marsh, said. “We usually have anywhere between 15 and 45 students show up and we play everything from Dungeons and Dragons to Magic: The Gathering to ‘Super Smash Bros.’”

The Gamers’ Guild was started three years ago by Denis Alvarez, another club adviser. 

“I’ve loved video games my whole life,” Alvarez said. “I saw that the high school has an e-sports club, so I wanted to create something for the middle school kids to come and play.”

The students who attend the Gamers’ Guild spread throughout the entire gym, even into the weight room. Some sit around a table to play Magic, the Gathering, while others play “Super Smash Bros” on the Nintendo Switch. Other groups of students run around and play physical games in a circle. One student duo was even playing chess. There is truly something for everybody at the Gamers’ Guild. Marsh enjoys seeing the students make the most of their time together and create friendships over their love of gaming.

“My favorite part about advising the Gamers’ Guild is just seeing kids socialize, having fun and finding other people that have similar interests,” Marsh said. “It’s fun to see their social skills exploding. They develop friendships they might not otherwise get to develop if it weren’t for the Gamers’ Guild.”

Giving students an outlet to do what they love while creating strong friendships with peers who share common interests was one of Alvarez’s goals in starting the Gamers’ Guild. 

“My main goal in the Gamers’ Guild is that they create friendships,” Alvarez said. “I sometimes overhear students saying things like ‘aren’t you glad I introduced you to this club?’ to their peers. They have the opportunity to meet students with the same interests, create a bond and develop lasting friendships.”

Students enjoy getting together twice each week to game with their friends, and they say the Gamers’ Guild has led them to great friendships.

“My favorite part of Gamers’ Guild is socializing and playing Magic: The Gathering,” Justin said, a student and member of the Gamers’ Guild. “Magic: The Gathering is one of my favorite games here. I love getting to play games with the other kids my age.”

Justin’s friend, Owen, said he enjoys the friendships he’s made from being part of the Gamers’ Guild.

“I love to get to play with other people,” Owen said, another student who is also a member of the Gamers’ Guild. “My favorite game is Magic: The Gathering, but I joined because I wanted to play lots of different games after school with my friends.”

In December, local business Kayfabe Cards donated gaming supplies to the Gamers’ Guild and offered to teach new games to the students. The students have benefited from the generous amount of gaming mats, cards and other gaming supplies that were donated. 

“Kayfabe Cards in Riverton put up a tree in their store and the community bought gaming supplies to donate to our club,” Marsh said. “It’s been an amazing resource that has helped our students. I host a reading group and have used the donations to help kids who are struggling with reading, as well. It’s been a great way to motivate them and teach them more about reading.”

One donation in particular, a box of Magic: The Gathering cards, has enhanced the favorite game of many of the students. 

“I love playing Magic: The Gathering because I like the strategy of the game,” Andrew said, a student and member of the Gamers’ Guild. “I joined the club because I heard they were playing Magic: The Gathering, and I had played that game before. I came one week and liked it, so I just kept coming back.”

Andrew’s friend, Wade, also joined the Gamers’ Guild because he liked playing Magic: The Gathering. 

“Playing games is my favorite part of the club, and Magic is my favorite game,” Wade said. “It’s never helpless, no matter how bad your deck is. There’s always hope that you can win.”

Other students love playing “Super Smash Bros” on a projector set up in the weight room. They have started having tournaments each time the Gamers’ Guild meets. 

“I love hanging out with my friends and playing games with them,” Tyler said, a student who is a member of the Gamers’ Guild. “I joined the club because I thought it would be fun to participate in the “Smash Bros” tournaments and to hang out with my friends. My favorite part of the tournament is going against different opponents.” 

Through it all, Alvarez is glad he started the Gamers’ Guild and loves seeing the kids come together and learn lessons through gaming.

“I love getting to meet the students and see their different personalities,” he said. “I love helping them learn to have good habits through gaming.”