Smashing the game

Senior Richard Martinez is president of the Super Smash Bros club, and is preparing to pass on the title after years of commitment.


Mr. Miles Carey

The Super Smash Bros club poses for a club photo, Richard Martinez in the top left.

A room of kids yells at a screen, some on the sidelines watching, some with controllers part of the competition. One boy on the sidelines says words of affirmation to the players, guiding them through the dash to the “finish line.” This boy is Senior Richard Martinez, who started his own extracurricular: the Super Smash Bros Club. Martinez is president of the club and co-runs it with fellow senior Henry Nissen, which they hold every Wednesday after school. 

Martinez started the club due to his passion for video games, something that began for him at a very young age. After getting a Wii at around age seven, he fell in love with the esport environment. He has been playing competitively since middle school, attending tournaments around the area. It was his own enjoyment of video games that made him desire to give the same feeling to others.

“I knew that I wanted people like me to have a place to go hang out with other people and play the game together, so when I met a friend that also played Smash Bros, I knew that I wanted to have a space where we could all hang out together,” Martinez said. 

The structure of the club is simple: the members join a virtual call and play Smash Bros through Nintendo’s online system. This was slightly different during pre-pandemic times when the club leaders would instead bring their consoles to school and sit next to each other and discourse was a little bit easier. 

“It’s obviously been harder, especially trying to get new members this year, because in previous years we’ve had around 15-20 regular members a week,” Martinez said. “But this year we’ve only had around eight on average, which is obviously a step down.” 

Despite this setback, Martinez has been able to make the most of it. 

“It’s a lot nicer when we have a closer relationship with each of the members of the club,” Martinez said.

For him, the community the club created was the best part. He was able to make a strong group of friends who shared similar interests, people he would not have been able to meet otherwise. Being in an environment where people are genuinely having fun is what has made him so invested in the club’s success.

“When I saw other kids in my club start winning, when they previously thought they could never win, and seeing them smile and be happy, it just is the best feeling in the world,” Martinez said.

It was also a sense of leadership that made him feel like he was truly gaining real life skills from the club. Trial and error was a main factor for Martinez in finding what worked best for the club, he would adjust the following week’s plans accordingly. This was the same in many other decisions and responsibilities his job entailed, all giving him more invaluable experiences.

“It really just gave me the opportunity to see how I could apply myself in different ways instead of just going home and studying after school,” Martinez said. 

He plans to continue his gaming endeavors in college, where there is a much larger esports community. Video games are more than just a pastime for Martinez; Instead, they offer a feeling that would be difficult to duplicate elsewhere. There is something special about the rush that winning gives him, intensified by the work he had to do to get there. 

“I guess when I’m playing and I do something cool it makes me feel like I’m unstoppable, like I can do anything,” Martinez said.