P is for Player: Student’s hobby is all fun and games

Union senior Derek Noem, the Guild Master of WKU’s Gamers’ Guild, sometimes wears his Captain America shirt and pajama pants along with carrying a replica of Captain America’s shield during his shifts as a resident assistant at McCormack Hall. Noem believes Captain America is a good, moral role model for people.

Ross Whitaker

Not many people can boast about having the title Guild Master, but Union senior Derek Noem is among those who can.

Noem is the president, or “Guild Master,” of the Gamers’ Guild on campus. Members of the Guild meet once a week to play pen-and-paper role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, card games such as Magic: The Gathering and sometimes board games.

“It’s basically like hanging out with your friends, only it’s more fun than sitting around talking about life,” he said. “You’d just be sitting around saying, ‘Damn, it’s cold. We can’t play football. Well, let’s play DnD. We’ll fight a dragon.'”

Noem attended the Air Force Academy before transferring to WKU. He started playing Dungeons and Dragons during his freshman year of high school but his true passion for gaming came later.

“The majority of my nerding up actually happened in the Air Force,” Noem said. “Warhammer 40K, Flames of War. There’s a couple military model table top games. We had every type of nerd.”

Noem said that when he got to WKU, he immediately joined the Gamers’ Guild. He plays games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Flames of War and Warhammer 40000. Noem became Guild Master after Guild elections in the spring.

“It’s not a strict hierarchy of gamers,” he said. “It’s just a fun social setting. If you’re a nice person and you seem responsible, they don’t mind you taking up the reigns.”

Along with being a Guild Master, Noem is also a resident assistant in McCormack Hall, vice president of College Republicans, a veteran and an Eagle Scout. He’s known in McCormack for carrying around Captain America’s iconic shield while doing rounds or working at the front desk.

“It keeps them entertained,” he said. “It makes it so the building isn’t just a place to live.”

He’s been trying to focus on recruitment for the Gamers’ Guild this semester rather than running his own games.

“I’m trying to get up Guild membership and letting other people start stuff so after the older generation is gone there’s still a bottom to the organization,” he said. “People that can actually keep it going.”

Noem said he taught six of his residents to play Dungeons and Dragons last semester. One of them is Simpsonville junior Tate Wilcox, who is also a member of the Guild.

Wilcox said he had been gaming since age 7, but he had never been into pen-and-paper games until meeting Noem.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it,” he said.

Another of Noem’s residents, Cincinnati sophomore Ryan Hickey, has been joining in on games as well.

Hickey, another Guild member, said he prefers these types of games to video games.

“You can actually have conversations while you’re playing,” he said. “It’s more interaction with people. I like that aspect of it a lot more.”

The Gamers’ Guild meets on the second floor of Downing University Center from 4:30 to 10:45 p.m. on Saturdays. Noem said anyone interested in joining is encouraged to show up.

“It’s terribly nerdy, but it’s probably the most fun anybody has doing anything,” Noem said. “Unless you go cliff jumping or skydiving.”