Clubbin’ profiles some of the more unusual and eclectic student clubs around, from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the Equestrian Club. This time we send Raph Debenedetti and Alison Herman, our noobiest of noobs when it comes to gaming, to battle beside and learn about the StarCraft Club.

Their facilities aren't as decked out as this, but one can dream

When you think of StarCraft, the enormously popular science-fiction strategy video game, you probably think of sun-deprived, junior high schoolers locked up for hours at a time in suburban basements. Ben Graif, GS ’14, Martin Li, SEAS ’12 and Charles Zhang, CC ’12, beg to differ. The three, known online as “Benji,” “TaylorSwift” and “The Red Comet,” respectively, have founded a group at Columbia dedicated to playing StarCraft at the competitive, collegiate level.

For the yet others who know next to nothing about StarCraft, the concept of the game is relatively simple. Explains Li, “Basically, it’s a real-time strategy game. You get money, you make shit, and you kill other people’s shit.” Gamers can choose to play as one of three races: Terran (humans), Zerg (“insectoid alien type things”) or Protoss (“kind of hard to explain but it involves psychic forces”). StarCraft players range from novices to professionals, with the heads of the Columbia group falling somewhere in between. Graif and Li are both members of the “Masters” division, which comprises the top two percent of players in North America.

As part of the Collegiate Star League (CSL), Columbia StarCraft, now 53 members strong, competes against schools such as NYU and Penn. Although the group isn’t quite official—they’re currently lobbying for ABC recognition—many of its members have been practicing together since the release of StarCraft 2 last July. Online practices take place every Saturday for a grueling three hours, and tournaments on Sunday, as team members are matched up against players from other schools in virtual tournaments broken into of fast-paced, twenty-minute games.

Graif praises StarCraft as an activity that includes “people from all over campus—medical school, GS, and CC.” Li urges Columbians to look beyond the stigma traditionally attached to video games: “The reason Koreans are generally better at StarCraft is that gaming is more mainstream there. I think StarCraft has the potential to be like poker, where you can turn on the TV and just tune it.” We may be far from mainstream reach, but Columbians can do their part by joining one of CU’s fastest-growing student groups. For those interested in trying their hand at StarCraft, the Columbia group can be contacted at or through their Facebook group.

Competition via Wikimedia Commons