They've got game
Adventuring through fantasy realms might not sound like something commonly done in school, but it's a typical Wednesday for members of the Estacada High School game club.
Every week, the group meets to play Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and a variety of video games.
"The best part of the club is getting together and having some fun," said Skyler Kutshell, a senior at Estacada High School and founding member of the group.
When the club was formed in 2017, there were three members. Now, it's expanded to 12.
"We knew there were other people out there in school," Kutshell said.
James Rhoades, the club's faculty advisor, noted that some attendees have learned to play new games with the group.
"They're great at working with people who don't know games," he said.
Many of the consoles and games are supplied by students. Tournament Games in Gresham supplied 60 decks of Magic: The Gathering cards after Rhoades told them about the club.
Every Wednesday during lunch, the group plays video games and Magic: The Gathering, in which players duel each other using decks of cards featuring human and fantasy characters with specific abilities.
After school on Wednesday, six club members gather to play Dungeons & Dragons, a roleplaying game in which participants play as adventurers in a medieval fantasy setting. Also known as D&D, the game leads participants to explore forests, castles and other locations with the goal of increasing their characters' power through adventuring and camaraderie.
Players can take on the roles of paladins, wizards and rogues, among others, and each character has unique characteristics and abilities.
"You can live another life in the past or the future, depending on the campaign," said Kutshell, who is game master and guides players through the fictional world, responding to character requests and actions.
The group has used several premade campaigns and is currently playing one based on "Skyrim," a role-playing game set in a Norse fantasy realm.
D&D lends itself to a collaborative atmosphere, Kutshell said. "We try to help everyone out and make sure they have fun. There's a lot of laughter."
When club members play video games during lunch, a popular option is "Super Smash Bros.," a fighting game using Nintendo's most famous characters.
Some of the video games they play tend to be more competitive than Dungeons & Dragons.
"The atmosphere is different," Kutchell said. "(In D&D) you don't have teams opposing one another. D&D is super friendly and everyone helps each other. Smash Bros. is more competitive. D&D is more collaborative."
Both Kutshell and Rhoades agreed that the Estacada High School game club helps encourage students to attend school.
"It's a fun thing. It relieves a lot of tension," Kutshell said.
Many club members appreciate the sense of community the group has created.
"I probably wouldn't have been friends with some people if it weren't for here," Kutshell said.
Several people cited the group as an opportunity to meet others with shared hobbies.
"It's a great way to share interests and have a good time," said Geari Becker, a sophomore.
Another valuable element of the group? It's fun.
"Being here with them and playing games, I really enjoy it," Kutshell said.