UNLV engineering major Milo Ocampo got his start in video gaming at the ripe old age of 3, watching his dad play Street Fighter in the Philippines’ SM Mall of Asia before his family moved to the U.S. Throughout middle school and high school, Ocampo’s interest in esports expanded to games like Overwatch, League of Legends, and Super Smash Bros. 4, driving him to launch the Cyber Sports Club (because “esports” wasn’t a word back then) for fellow gamers with his brother.
At UNLV, Ocampo and his brother worked with Riot Games — one of the world’s most popular video game developers — to launch an esports collegiate initiative. UNLV became one of the first 20 universities recognized by Riot when 8-bit Esports was founded Feb. 12, 2012.
Here are his thoughts on the phenomenal growth of UNLV’s club, fostering a sense of community among gamers, and the upcoming Mountain West Esports Showdown.
My brother and I launched 8-bit Esports six years ago, and I began my journey as the club’s vice president and co-founder. My vision for the club was twofold: I wanted a place for those who never felt like they belonged to find community and opportunity, and I also wanted to achieve recognition and a name for myself in esports.
It sounds impossible. But through tenacity and determination, I was able to grow our small video gaming club to 150-plus members.
A stereotype that follows gamers is that of the socially awkward loner. The thing is, most gamers are just waiting for a chance to leave their houses. They want to become a part of something that’s bigger than themselves, to interact with a community of like-minded people.
Every time I saw a student in Lied Library playing a PC game or a gamer in a LAN center around town, I said, “Hey, I’m Milo. I play video games, too. If you don’t have anything to do this Friday, come to our club meeting.”
Most everyone I talked to showed up, and six years later, we are a strong community of 1,200-plus passionate gamers and friends just a few days away from competing against Boise State in the first-ever Mountain West Esports Showdown.
We have a team of highly skilled players, I’m confident in each of their abilities, and I know for a fact that we’re going to win.
No matter what happens, though, in the moments and weeks following the Showdown, I want all of the club members and players to feel much more pride in their journey with our club. I want 8-bit Esports alumni and former officers to tune into the Showdown on Twitch and say, “I was part of that.”
I don’t want people to be afraid anymore to say, “I’m a gamer.”
Over the past six years, I’ve achieved my personal mission of becoming someone. I’ve become a better businessman, that’s for sure.
All of these experiences have left me with big dreams. They helped me realize that my scope of thinking had been too small and that I wasn’t taking enough risks. Now, instead of running small-scale weekly events for the community, I have dreams of running events in convention centers that attract people from all over the world, and I’ve already succeeded in doing that twice.
For those who don’t know anything about esports, for those who are interested in getting more involved, and for everyone in between, I’d encourage you to come to a tournament, match, or even the Showdown. It’s an interactive experience unlike any other sporting event, and once you feel the sheer passion, drive, and love for the community and culture that all gamers are familiar with, who knows? Maybe you’ll be playing at next year’s Showdown.