By Michael Cutler

Max Abramovitz, a Freshman computer science and theater double major, swung wildly in the air, dodging bullets from oncoming enemies as he reached for a weapon. To the outside world, Max was just moving around at the Hillel Jewish Center at the University of Maryland with a big clunky headset on his head. But to Max, he was in a virtual world that expanded beyond anything he could have ever imagined.

The National Hillel Esports Initiative hosted its 2020 “Speedrun n’ Chill” event Sunday, March 1st. Students running in and out of the Hillel stopped by to play some video games and to watch students speedrun their favorite games. Chanan Klapper, a Senior aerospace engineering major, is in charge of the organization on this campus.

“Hillel asked me to have a gaming event,” Klapper said. “So I figured we could just have a gaming and chill, showcase some technologies that we have on campus, and try to bring as many people as possible.”

The National Hillel Esports Initiative was created to bridge esports between Jewish students across campuses around the country. Tournaments and speed run events have happened at Rutgers University, the University of Maryland, and Yeshiva University.

Students also faced off in speedruns, live on the streaming website Twitch, as they tried to finish video games in the fastest time possible. Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly was finished in three minutes. Ben Yehuda, a Senior communications major raced Klapper in one of their favorite video games, The Messenger.

“I played the Switch version and Chanan played the PC version,” Yehuda said. “Our race was very close the whole time. We finished it in like 45 minutes, 50 minutes.”

The Virtual Reality equipment was set up on one side of the room as Max Abramovitz shot enemies in the popular game, Superhot.

“I’m the one who rented out the VR from the maker’s space so I’ve mostly been over here just like helping people with the VR, making sure they’re doing it right,” Abramovitz said.

With the sign-up sheet containing 19 names of students who visited the event, Klapper and the rest of the organization had a fun day filled with video games and laughter.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Michael Cutler.

Michael Cutler is a journalism major and can be reached at 

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