Computer science major, Youngju Shin, a member of the executive board for SC Esports, believes video games can bring people together.
Youngju Shin is passionate about esports, organized competitions where individual players or teams of players compete against one another in video games ranging from multiplayer battle arena games to reconstructions of physical sports.
“I love how inclusive the gaming community is. It’s a space where everyone is welcome and where there are so many ways to get involved,” said Shin, who’s a senior at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering majoring in computer science. “You can play casually with friends, you can watch gamer streams and competitions, or you can strive to compete at a really high level in esports tournaments.”
Shin serves as treasurer on the executive board of SC Esports, a recreational gaming organization on campus where both casual and competitive gamers can connect, socialize, and compete.
“I joined SC Esports my sophomore year, and I instantly loved it,” Shin said. “When you are new to campus, gaming and meeting people who game is a great way to find community and feel included.”
SC Esports was founded in 2009, and the club currently has around 35 members. For the casual gamer, SC Esports hosts weekly events where members can socialize and play their favorite multiplayer video games together. Students who want to compete more seriously can join one of the various esports teams within the club, which allow members to practice together and compete against other collegiate teams in video games like “League of Legends,” “Hearthstone,” and “Rocket League.”
As treasurer of SC Esports, Shin manages the club’s income and expenses, coordinates the collection of event payments and reimbursements, contributes to creating funding applications, and maintains communications with USC Viterbi.
On the executive board, she’s focused on coordinating weekly events and social mixers to help students get through online school and Zoom fatigue.
“Youngju’s welcoming aura and kind personality have made her an amazing fit for SC Esports,” said SC Esports president Ashley Kim. “Community is our organization’s most important key value, and she demonstrates this weekly within our events and on our Discord by socializing with members, new and old.” Discord is a group-chatting platform that allows the entire SC Esports community to connect.
Shin was introduced to video games by her two older brothers, Brian and Andrew, whom she admired throughout her childhood. Growing up in Georgia, Shin and her twin sister, Youngeun, loved to watch their brothers play games like “World of Warcraft” and “League of Legends.” Gaming quickly became a mutual interest that gave the siblings a way to relate, despite their significant age gap — Brian is 31 and Andrew 28, while Youngju and her sister are 21.
“Gaming has always been something that’s brought my siblings and me closer together. I was always pretty reserved and shy growing up, but gaming gave me an outlet where I could express myself, have fun, and meet new friends,” Shin said.
More than a decade later, gaming continues to a be passion for Shin. She’s never competed in any esports tournaments herself, but she loves to game more casually with friends. She especially enjoys “League of Legends,” a multiplayer online battle arena game played on a computer. In the game, two teams of five players each face off and engage in combat in an attempt to destroy the opposing team’s base while defending their own. Shin plays as the character Morgana, a powerful enchantress with glowing eyes and dark angel wings. Clad in deep purple, Morgana is a master of the dark arts, with the ability to cast cursed shadows and chains of dark, celestial fire upon her enemies, draining their health.
“I enjoy playing as Morgana because she aligns well with my playing style,” Shin said. “I like to play more aggressively, and I like how Morgana lets me poke down the health of enemy champions using her abilities. Predicting the other team’s moves is important as a Morgana player since she has the ability to shield and protect her teammates, which is another aspect of her character that I enjoy.”
Shin’s technological competence goes beyond just gaming. She’s currently working on building her own PC and mechanical keyboard from scratch. Shin also enjoys creating and experimenting with different programming projects in her free time. As a freshman, she competed in a 24-hour hackathon called Trojan Hacks, and her team received the award for “Best Freshman Hack.”
In the future, Shin says she’d love to work in software development for a gaming company, which she hopes could give her the chance to help others find comfort, fun, and community in the world of gaming, just as she has.
By Lila Jones