On Saturday, May 16, four DigiPen faculty from the Department of Game Design and Production went to Mox Boarding House in Bellevue, WA, to compete in an all-day board game tournament event called The Gauntlet: Moxtropolis. They faced off against 19 other teams from local game-related companies and organizations to raise funds for Hopelink, a community agency that helps low-income and homeless families in the King County area on their way to self-sufficiency.
Earlier this month, we spoke with Lyla Ross, Program Manager for ENGAGE, the charitable outreach branch of Card Kingdom, Inc., which hosted The Gauntlet. On the day of the tournament, Ross wore a glittering black dress and silver headband, complementing the event’s theme, which was based on the retro-futuristic styles of the 1927 sci-fi epic, Metropolis.
“We’d like to consider having a theme every year,” Ross said, “to make it easier for people to decide on costumes and just be a little more focused about it.” This year’s theme was chosen to celebrate the art deco motifs of Mox Boarding House, which opened last November.
Many of the participants dressed to varying degrees in 1920s-style flapper apparel and Victorian-era suit jackets. Despite their playful attire, all the participants became deadly serious when it was time to play the games. “It’s still very tense,” Ross said, comparing this year’s competitive atmosphere to last year, when she realized her team would need to up the ante for these hardcore gamers. “I mean you can hear it—it’s pretty exciting.”
Throughout the day, teams played rounds of different games against other teams for points. “We started with Space Cadets because it’s lighthearted and it gets your blood flowing,” Ross said.
In order, teams competed for points in rounds of Space Cadets: Dice Duel, Kemet, a customized Sporcle Live trivia event, Cosmic Encounter, and a secret game that was revealed at the competition. “I had to drive six hours down to Vancouver, Washington, to pick up our custom-designed Moxtropolis: The Game, which is our secret game,” Ross said on Saturday. The game was made specifically for this event, complete with a full-color board and game cards. Teams that raised enough during the fundraising portion of the event would receive a hint about the game, but otherwise the details of Moxtropolis: The Game were kept under wraps until game day.
When asked about the most rewarding part of the day, Ross said that being able to contribute so much to a good cause was the best reward. “It’s great to see the looks on the Hopelink staff, and just the fact that they are soaking it up and they feel the love.”
Ezzy Bruce, Community Engagement and Events Manager at Hopelink, attended The Gauntlet: Moxtropolis along with several other Hopelink staff. “From the moment I walked in, I’ve had people approach me to say they’re really excited about Hopelink,” said Bruce. “I’m just really grateful for the excitement and the passion that people put into fundraising while doing something that they really enjoy. It’s pretty unique.”
Last year, funds raised from the first Gauntlet competition went to the Seattle-based charity Child’s Play. The Gauntlet: Moxtropolis was Hopelink’s first opportunity to work with ENGAGE, and Bruce described the experience positively.
“I really can’t say enough about the very genuine outpouring of excitement from these gamers. It’s been a fantastic group to work with—definitely a highlight of my time at Hopelink.” Bruce has been working with Hopelink for eight years and fundraising for 15 years. She described The Gauntlet: Moxtropolis as “one of the most unique fundraising activities that I’ve had the privilege of being involved with.”
According to Bruce, the funds donated to Hopelink from the competition will be allotted based on the organization’s greatest needs. “Hopelink has 30 different programs the funds from this will help support,” Bruce said, including a food bank, adult education services, and the only family shelter in King County that provides separate living units for each family.
The event started at 11:00 a.m. and ran until nearly 9:00 p.m. that night, when the winner of the tournament was announced.
Congratulations to Team Removed From Play, which earned the most points at the tournament to secure their victory (including a real gauntlet as a trophy), as well as Team Bungie, which collected an astounding $53,064.77 during the fundraiser, nearly $49,000 more than the second highest-raising team, Team Paizo.
The faculty members competing for Team DigiPen included Senior Lecturers Jeremy Holcomb, Stephen Beeman, Bill Morrison, and Richard Thomas Rowan (substituting for Ellen Beeman). Team DigiPen raised a total of $1,800 for Hopelink and placed 9th in the tournament.