Class of Champions: From IU Gaming to ASUS Marketing

Articles: Gaming
Jun 19, 2020 Written by:Chris_Barr


While many of us grew up gaming as kids, it’s not until college that most people have the opportunity to connect with a community of like-minded gamers. Universities all over the world have clubs dedicated to video games. Some specialize in specific genres or esports, while others are more generalized. These organizations provide a place to meet other people that share the same passion for gaming, but they also do so much more. With access to tournaments and industry partners, being a part of a broader gaming community helps build experience both in and out of the game.

Here at the Republic of Gamers, we recognize just how important these collegiate groups can be. That’s why we’ve partnered with Tespa over the last few years to help bring our cutting-edge gaming hardware to college campuses across the country. We’re taking that partnership a step further by kicking off a new collaborative content series that showcases collegiate gaming life, and how it can prepare you for a future career. We’ll be highlighting individuals that came from Tespa chapters and have gone on to work in the gaming or tech industries, starting with one of our own.

What is Tespa?

Tespa was originally founded in 2012 as a gaming club at the University of Texas at Austin by three students. It quickly transformed into an organization focused on supporting other collegiate gaming organizations across the nation. It has since grown into a vast network of students, competitors, and club leaders with more than 270 chapters in North America, and over 120,000 members and alumni.


Collegiate Esports Championship

In addition to helping chapters with their own events, Tespa has partnered with companies such as Blizzard, ESPN, and Twitch to host huge collegiate tournaments with big prizes. More than 40,000 competitors from over 1,350 schools have participated in events such as the HearthStone Collegiate Champs,  Collegiate, and Heroes of the Dorm. 

One of our own

When it came time to find a former Tespa member in the industry, I didn’t need to look far. I was Vice President of IU Gaming, the Indiana University chapter of Tespa, and now work for one of the largest PC gaming companies in the world, ASUS. So what better way to kick off this new series than to describe my journey from Tespa to the Republic of Gamers?


Chris Scott Barr - Senior Content Marketing Specialist

I spent roughly four years as a part of IU Gaming, starting as a member who attended LANs, before volunteering as an officer that helped plan and execute events, and eventually becoming its vice president. It was while I was vice president of the club that Tespa approached us about becoming one of the first universities outside of Texas to join their ranks. 

If you’re not from the Midwest, you might not realize just how difficult it can be to find a community based around playing video games. While it has gotten easier to connect with other gamers online, it’s hard to replicate the kind of local community that a college gaming club provides. These groups are much more than merely a place to play video games; they can be a gateway to experiences and opportunities that you can’t find anywhere else.

When I first joined IU Gaming, I had just moved, and thus only had a few local friends that I’d met through classes and mutual acquaintances. While attending my first LAN War (the club’s semi-annual BYOPC LAN party), I quickly formed new friendships with other attendees. Between tournaments, pick-up games, the pizza line, and just generally being in a close space with a couple hundred gamers for 24 straight hours, it was easy to strike up conversations and find shared interests with new people.


IU Gaming LAN War

Since LAN parties take a lot of planning and effort to put together, the club actively recruits volunteers to help with basic things like setting up tables and running networking cables, as well as officers that also help run the club and organize future events. I already had some experience with setting up PC networks and a passion for gaming, so I naturally signed up to be an officer.

Running a club with over a thousand members and setting up a BYOPC event for between 200 and 400 people twice a year is no easy task. It requires coordination between members of a team, delegating tasks to individuals, and tons of planning. When you have your hands in every step of that process, you develop skills and an understanding of team dynamics that are necessary for a collaborative work environment in the future. This process included regular meetings with the other officers about how to recruit new club members, advertising upcoming events, and reaching out to companies about sponsorship opportunities for each LAN War. 

It was during this period where I was an officer that I started learning and honing skills that prepared me for my journey to where I am now. Both during and after my time with the university gaming club, I operated and wrote for my own gaming news site. I had already begun developing relationships with various companies to secure products to review, so when the club needed someone to take over the role of sponsorship outreach, it seemed like a perfect fit. 


IU Gaming LAN War

Networking can be a major hurdle in any industry, and the gaming world is no different. When you’re in an organization full of passionate gamers, it’s not surprising that some of those same people will pursue careers in a related field. So while it may seem that you’re just having fun with some like-minded gamers, you’re also networking and creating possible future opportunities.

When I reached out to game publishers and PC hardware companies, they generally wanted to know our marketing strategies for promoting their sponsorship of the event. These were new concepts to me, but I quickly learned the ins-and-outs of product marketing used by major tech companies. Those same skills are invaluable today as a member of the marketing team here at ASUS. Additionally, communicating with these companies provided excellent networking opportunities that are otherwise scarce in a rural Indiana setting.

Not every PC enthusiast can call up a multinational semiconductor manufacturer and build rapport with them. However, I was able to regularly talk to their marketing department about getting sponsorship for our LAN events. That relationship eventually blossomed into a fruitful professional partnership that led to several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. First I worked with them to review their SSDs for my news site. Then, in 2012, I was among the first group of journalists to be allowed inside of one of the company’s memory manufacturing complexes in Seoul during one of their SSD Summits. Most recently, in 2018 the company hired me as a gaming industry consultant to assist in planning their first Blizzcon party. I was also the MC for the Blizzcon party, something I had plenty of experience doing at several different LAN War events.


Collegiate Esports Championship

A few years after leaving the university gaming club, one of the former officers that I worked with let me know of an opportunity to work with Major League Gaming. His company assisted with setting up and monitoring many of their LAN events. This was another opportunity to get my foot in the door of the gaming industry, and it was a direct result of my time with IU Gaming. Since he and I had already spent a few years setting up LAN events together, my friend immediately thought of me when they needed someone to help out. I ended up working nearly a dozen MLG events, including CWL Vegas in 2018.
Today, I’m a senior content marketing specialist for ASUS, a company whose parts I’ve been using for more than 20 years to power my gaming PCs. I spend my days testing new hardware for experiential pieces, as well as penning profiles on our influencers to help tell their stories. 

While there were many stops on my journey to get here, my time with IU Gaming and Tespa was absolutely invaluable. It’s impossible to say if I would be in this role without that experience, but I can say confidently that I still use many of the skills I first learned in that collegiate club to this day. What’s more, I’m still friends with many of the officers and members that I worked with during that period, making it a positive experience both professionally and personally.

Join a Tespa chapter today!

With well over 200 chapters throughout the US, there’s likely to be a Tespa chapter near you, possibly at the very university you’re attending. Whether you’re looking for a few new friends to play your favorite game with, or you’re looking for a like-minded community, joining a collegiate gaming organization is a great choice. You can also become more involved in your local chapter if you’re looking for opportunities to network and build skills that can lead to a successful career in the tech and gaming industries.

Tell us your stories

If you’re already part of a Tespa chapter, we’d love to hear from you. Does your club have alumni that have gone on to work in the gaming or tech industries? Has  a current member gained a sizable following streaming games on Twitch or Mixer? Just drop us a line on Twitter so we can tell their story.