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‘Fortnite’ helps build chemistry for Bobcats

Texas State Football
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Chris Woods’ son calls him a “camper.”

Woods’ son is an avid Fortnite player, an online multiplayer video game that pits 100 “heroes” against each other in a Hunger Games-style battle royale. Players are transported to an island via hot air balloon where they can scavenge the map for weapons and build defensive fortresses. As the game progresses, the boundaries of the map get smaller, gradually increasing the players’ proximity. The only way to win is to be the last man standing.

He doesn’t game often, but Texas State’s defensive coordinator gets goaded into playing every now and then. While most try to win the game by hunting down their opponents, Woods uses a different strategy.

Woods waits until the very last second to parachute out of the Battle Bus before sniffing out the most remote location on the island. He might pillage a house or two in search of a chest full of pistols, shotguns or assault rifles, but he’s in a hurry. He needs to find the nearest shrub as soon as possible and wait for the Storm eye to start shrinking.

“I find a bush and I hide there,” Woods said. “And then I wait for that little circle to squeeze, and then I get right to the edge of the circle and then I find another bush and I hide in it. And you know, (the other players are) all dropping bombs on each other and everything. 

“And then at the end, when all those nerds know how to do this stuff, they’re building skyscrapers and they start shooting at the bushes because they know someone’s sitting there. That’s when I lose. But it’s always that top-10, top-5 (finish).”

Those “nerds” are actually Woods’ players. Fortnite has taken over Texas State’s down time. The Bobcats settled on video games as its favorite past time because it allows them to keep competing with each other while staying off their feet between practices. The players love going up against each other outside of football.

“We all have some personality characters,” junior offensive lineman Aaron Brewer said. “We’re all heated and yelling at each other. But it’s always just fun and games.”

Many of the players prefer to team up to help their chances of winning, splitting up into XBox One, PlayStation 4, and PC squads.

Others, like junior defensive end Dean Taylor, prefer PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a game similar to Fortnite.

“I’m a PUBG player,” Taylor said. “It’s real. It’s real, I like the real factor to it. I feel like I can get more immersed into PUBG than I can into Fortnite, I’ll take it more serious.”

Who’s the worst gamer on the team?

“I would have to say (it’s) between my two roommates, (junior linebackers) Kumonde Hines and Hal Vinson,” Brewer said. “They actually used to play (Fortnite) on PS4, but I guess they got tired of it and they weren’t good enough, so they went to XBox on PUBG.”

“(It’s) Hal,” Taylor said. “He can’t aim, he can’t aim.”

Playing Fortnite gives the team an extra characteristic that they have in common. Naturally it’s brought the team closer together. 

“Just playing a video game, I feel like that’s helped us bond together a lot because we’re talking constantly,” junior cornerback Anthony J. Taylor said. “And it’s a strategic game, so you know, you have to come up with ideas in your head to win. So it’s fun.”

The coaches have noticed how tight-knit the group has become and can see the chemistry translating onto the field.

“This is a close team, I can tell,” Woods said. “I’ve been on teams where there’s been splits in the locker room. And you know it immediately, you can feel it. I don’t get that sense with this team. I get the sense that there’s a lot of really hard competition and they like going at each other in camp, when it’s back and forth. 

“And we’ve had some pretentious practices, but I’ve never once gotten the sense, since I’ve been here, that leaving the field, this anything but one team. I think these guys really enjoy being around each other.”