Racing Into Redwood: Paying a Visit to NJIT’s Recurring Mario Kart Tournament 

Racing Into Redwood: Paying a Visit to NJIT’s Recurring Mario Kart Tournament 

(Photo by Nicholas Heisler)

When two friends de-stress after a week of academic rigor, playing their favorite game can be the best way to relax. However, what if more than just the dorm could be in on the fun?  

This idea was suggested by Mario Kart tournament leaders Priyanshu Mendiratta, a second-year computer engineering major, and Francis Kelliher, a first-year mechanical engineering major. Their experience led to the creation of a weekly Mario Kart tournament in Redwood Hall.  

Since late September, a tournament has occurred in the Redwood Hall lounge every Friday evening. Prior to Nov. 11, I felt compelled to not participate in a gaming tournament, as it would conflict with schoolwork. That day, I participated for the first time after seeing a poster for the event near the elevator in Redwood Hall.  

Yet I took a chance and walked in just after 9:30 p.m., having completed my homework, to an excited crew of 12. They were extremely attentive to the flatscreen television in the corner, which illuminated Mario Kart for Nintendo Switch. Pizza from Domino’s made an appetizing appearance, although it did not last very long in a group of hungry college students. 

This, however, was completely fine, as the main event was not a meal but rather the opportunity to use customized racers and bolt across many updated maps in the Mario Kart universe. In fact, simply witnessing the updated game was very exciting, as it has become infinitely customizable and includes many novel features.  

Players can now add branded items to their racers, which I find extremely appealing as a car connoisseur. Furthermore, extensive customization always allows for greater player connection and unique experiences while interacting with a game’s features.  

I settled in for a while to observe how players felt about the experience and witness the admittedly majestic Mario Kart volcano map. Everyone in the room was unanimously enjoying the night as they ate, held conversations, and gamed to their hearts’ content.  

The Redwood Hall Lounge was certainly a pleasant place that night. Yes, the tournament was a competition, but it was also a light-hearted experience in which friends were exchanging jokes and laughs as they worked to win. I much appreciated this environment, as I participated in the match using my Nintendo DSi Mario Kart skills, which have not had practice for multiple years. 

Due to this, I was a bit reluctant to participate at first but decided that playing would ultimately be worth it. First, I customized my car with a bizarre mixture of Mercedes-Benz rims and a turtle body to transport the turtle character Yoshi. Then it was time to start. 

My game play was ultimately almost as questionable as my actual driving skills, leaving me in fourth place after each race. I would recommend that participants remember to use the drift button, ensuring that the racer remains on the track and does not veer off into the grass or fall into oblivion.  

This tip can also be helpful to ensure that your racer keeps up with other contestants and does not slow down the race, as my constant collisions with random items on the race path kept me from speeding up. Nevertheless, I faced no judgment for my slow-moving Yoshi, as everyone was participating for good fun. In fact, participants encouraged me to keep trying and offered suggestions on how to better tackle the map, showing an admirable amount of support for a tournament member.  

In this contest, a Mario Kart banana plushie was the prize at stake, creating the incentive needed to perform well. Of course, even in a friendly competition, there still must be a winner. But anyone who settles into a Friday-night Mario Kart tournament at Redwood Hall will leave as a friend, a skilled drifter, and a winner, as the experience of being in the tournament is invaluable.  

Historically, I never quite appreciated the concept of gaming tournaments, as I have always felt that they are somewhat hostile. Yet after this past Friday, I have changed my mind and will continue to participate in the fun.  

So, if you are looking for something to do on Friday night, race into Redwood Hall to join the crew. And who knows, you might just win a sought-after prize to take on the road after everyone completes racing down Mario Kart’s new maps.  

About The Author

Nicholas Merlino

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