What a Game! — Henry Killough

Games have been an important part of human history. From ancient times to our times, games have evolved to reflect the values, culture and lives of the people who created and played games. For me, games have been a way to learn, explore and create things in a way I was not able to with other forms of media. Because of this, I decided to ask other students about the games that have been impactful on their lives as a way of encouraging others to engage with this media.

Senior Henry Killough.
Photo by Anton Zemba.

Walking into the Gaming House basement, you are greeted by computers, consoles and tables spread out across the room. If you come on a Friday at 7 p.m., you can see tables with people sitting on their laptops, communicating across the room while intently playing a game called “League of Legends.” This is also where you will likely find senior Henry Killough, working on improving their skills in the game with others who are as driven as they are.

Killough is a computer science major. “I am not attached to my major,” they said. “I am here to try a lot of different things so I do not feel as though that defines me very well.” They also are the president of Lawrence University Gaming Club and are a bass singer and board member for the Appletones a capella group.

Even though Killough plays “League of Legends” now, it has not always been to the same capacity as they do now. There was a game that helped frame their mind when it came to understanding how to play multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBAs) called “Atlas Reactor.” It was a free-to-play turn-based strategy game released in 2016 by game developer Trion Worlds.  “It’s a four versus four game where everyone has 30 seconds to plan their turn and then they all happen simultaneously,” Killough said. “Even though the game is turn-based, the game feels hectic and fast paced.” 

One of the key things Killough took from this game was its cooperative nature. You have to keep multiple things in mind when playing this game. “Everyone’s turn happens at once but movement happens first,” they said. “You have to keep in mind how long it will be before you and others can move again and keep track of what different players are focusing or not focusing on.”

Another thing that “Atlas Reactor” helped Killough with was character selections.  “When playing ‘Atlas Reactor,’ it is a lot more distilled information compared to a game like ‘League of Legends,’” they said. “You were better able to select a character and play style than in ‘League of Legends’ because there was less to choose from, which helped me figure out the style and kind of gameplay I enjoy the most.” They continued, “Because of ‘Atlas Reactor,’ I feel like I have been able to make better choices regarding who I want to practice and be good at based on what I know of game design elements.” This process is very important in many games, although they said that not everyone goes through it, they have found it really helped them in the experience of gaming.

Killough reminisced on “Atlas Reactor.”  “I was one of the best players in the game,” they remarked. “For many other games, it can be daunting to even get close to those sorts of rankings. I would cue up against the team that would consistently win the major tournaments for this game and I would beat them.” This was not to gloat but to say this game gave them huge motivation to perform better in other games. They said, “I had never been that close to the best at anything gaming wise before and it kind of made me feel like I could do it.”

Killough really enjoyed their time with ‘Atlas Reactor,’ but the servers for the game shut down on June 28, 2019, making it  unplayable. This was when Killough turned to a game that they had played before “Atlas Reactor,” the MOBA “League of Legends.” “When I came back, I was more able to play toward the things that I could enjoy and I believe it has helped me have more fun in gaming,” they said. “I don’t know where I would be in gaming if it weren’t for this silly little dead game ‘Atlas Reactor.’”

Killough will continue to work towards their goal of being No. 1 in “League of Legends,” both while they are here at Lawrence and beyond.