Tabletop Gaming a Phenomenon at MDC Wolfson

“That dragon has to be a Normal monster, and it can be from Hand, Deck or Graveyard.” “Imagine if you

Isaachar Vinajeras, a proud owner of multiple Yu-Gi-Oh! decks
and a computer science student at Miami Dade College.

get Dark Knight!” “Defense!”

These are the kinds of exclamations you’ve probably heard if you’ve walked past the tables adjacent Teatro Prometeo on the first floor of Building 1, on almost any given day.

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, Isaachar Vinajeras, an avid collector of Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards, sits across from his opponent, a lean youth with black Skullcandy headphones and a short haircut. Both players have mats set out in front of them atop the table, made of a soft felt and decorated with bold illustrations of fictitious creatures. Both of them also have their trusty Deck-Boxes to their right.

As the game ensues, they shuffle shiny paper cards – each one inserted into plastic card protectors – and declare monster names, “what if” plays and attack and defense points with practiced yet modest bravado.

Vinajeras, a computer science student at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus says that Yu-Gi-Oh! is his “hobby”. Inside his bookbag, he’s got three boxes of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, worth hundreds.

He proudly arrays the cards in a crescent upon request.

Vinajeras and his opponents are but two participants of a recurring yet unregulated communion of people – not all of them necessarily MDC students – that join together at almost any time of the day to play card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic.

Jesus Acosta, Vice President of Anime Unleashed, says that the table gaming produces a domino effect, wherein increasing amounts of bystanders are motivated to join by simple curiosity.

Although Yu-Gi-Oh! fanatic Vinajeras sits down to play in between classes, Acosta says that the earliest he’s seen players huddled up is 8 a.m.; the latest, 9 p.m.

Many of the attendees know each other through three campus clubs: TableTop Gaming, which focuses on “traditional tabletop games” such as Magic: The Gathering; Video Game Association, whose goal is to produce their own video game, and Anime Unleashed, which affords fans of the genre a chance to enjoy it together.

“Most of the people [that] go to Tabletop, Anime Unleashed, and VGA; we’re all the same group,” says Miguel Diaz, president of the campus’ Video Game Association. “We’re all the nerds.”

Diaz, whose VGA club was featured in Miami Dade College’s student newspaper, The Reporter in February of 2012, says that youth who would normally find themselves on the fringe of society due to their nerdy or geeky interests have jumped on an opportunity to come together.

“Whoouch!” and an accompanying gesture of two hands forcefully coming together is how Diaz describes the phenomenon.

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