A Smash Hit: How a Video Game Became Competitive Sport

It started with a fist bump. That was Robert Fraser and Daniel Coppock’s way of wishing each other luck before their big fight. A small crowd began to gather, pressing close to get a better view of the action. With $60 and the glory of being victor on the line, Fraser and Coppock ignored the onlookers as they turned toward the blocky ‘90s TV, gripping their GameCube controllers in concentration as the screen lit up with two large, bold words: “Ready. Go!” And the fight began.

This is a weekly routine for the two. They meet every Thursday at Merchants Pub & Plate along with 30-40 others to compete in the local Super Smash Bros tournament. Fraser, 19, and Coppock, 18, are undisputedly the best players in the house, and nearly every week they find themselves going head-to-head in the grand finals. This childhood game had become a competitive sport that brought them together.

Super Smash Bros is a fighter video game that was first released for Nintendo 64 in 1999. The game got so popular it resulted in three sequels and a worldwide competitive scene that somehow found its way to Lawrence.

“My goal was to always build a community that could sustain an event series that would make people from around the region travel to us,” says Lux Fukato, a University of Kansas graduate and a key player in Lawrence’s Smash Bros scene. “These were especially important since the alternative meant traveling 4-8 hours to other places in order to play in a quality tournament.”

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Activist groups struggle to recruit Millennials

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, you name it–Gail Shafton has tried it all. But none seem to work when it comes to recruiting young adults.

“In general, younger people do not affiliate with quote-on-quote organizations,” said Shafton, a member of the Kansas Group Executive Committee of the Sierra Club, an environmental activist organization. “They also absolutely, adamantly avoid the word ‘environmentalist’ or anything that’s got the word ‘environmental’ in it.”

Information from the Pew Research Center.
Infopgraphic by Callie Byrnes. Information from the Pew Research Internet Project.

The lack of interest in activist causes by younger adults is a widespread problem. As activist groups have attempted to recruit younger people into their organizations, it has become apparent that Millennials are part of a new generation of citizens that do not engage civically the same way that generations from the past have, according to a report by the Pew Research Institution. Activist organizations have taken the backseat for Generation Y.

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Cyber Criminals Target Small Businesses

In the 43 years that Larry McElwain owned the Warren-McElwain Mortuary, he didn’t worry much about cyber thieves hacking customer information. He said that most people couldn’t charge enough credit to pay for his funeral services on their cards, so it never crossed his mind that it could be a big problem for businesses around the world. It wasn’t until he took his granddaughters to a restaurant in San Diego and had his own credit card information stolen that he began to realize just how important credit card security is to customers and businessmen alike.

“It’s important that people know this can happen,” McElwain, who has sold his business and is now the president and CEO of the Chamber of Lawrence, said. “It’s unbelievable that people spend their time thinking of ways to cheat other people, but that’s how it works.”

Information from The Hartford. Infographic by Callie Byrnes.

Although big companies such as Target and Home Depot are under fire for large-scale information hacks that have compromised millions of customers’ credit card information, small businesses are becoming the targets for cyber thieves and data hackers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the switch to computerized records and digital systems have made small businesses the main target for system hackings. However, with the larger hackings overtaking the news, the danger of information compromises in small businesses is often overlooked.

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The Social Service League

If you drive by the intersection of 11th and New Hampshire Street too quickly, you’ll probably miss the building. The only indicators that you’re in the right place is the old Starbucks chalk board sign that marks the donation drop off and the piece of paper on the door that reads, “Lame Entrance Sign.” The Social Service League thrift store’s temporary new location looks like a mere warehouse on the outside, but what’s inside is another story.

According to store manager Jean Ann Pike, the Social Service League is the “biggest secret in town” because they rely on word-of-mouth to attract customers. While the shop sells what you can find in most thrift stores, Pike claims they also come across interesting finds such as old feather boas, used photo albums and inappropriately-shaped cake pans.

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Profile: Emma Halling

Student Body Vice President Emma Halling slipped her boxing gloves on over her bright yellow hand wraps and pulled the straps tight between her teeth. Scuffing her Nikes against the gym floor and raising her fists in front of her, she stared at the bag for a few moments before finally throwing a punch.

As Halling’s fist hit the bag, she glanced up with a satisfied smile. It was just another day of training, but that didn’t seem to matter. Whether she is lobbying for women’s rights at the state capitol, sparring with an opponent in the ring, or training alone, Halling has a laser-like focus on hitting her target.

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