Esports gamer thankful to have FallsCon Scholarship

MSU Texas connections made FallsCon natural partner for MSU Texas Esports & Gaming

Esports gamer thankful to have FallsCon Scholarship

Blair Thacker found a home with MSU Texas Esports & Gaming after she transferred from Vernon College. Thanks to a Wichita Falls area sponsor, she also gained a scholarship after coming to Midwestern State University.

Thacker is like many students in that writing essays aren’t her favorite pastime, but she wrote an excellent essay back in 2022, and was selected as the recipient of the FallsCon Scholarship for 2022-23 for the MSU Texas Esports & Gaming.

Thacker was adjusting to paying for school at MSU Texas, and the scholarship helped her focus on her studies more, she said. Thacker’s favorite esports game is Overwatch. She also enjoys horror games like Dead by Daylight.

“Receiving the scholarship meant a lot to me,” Thacker said. “My essay for the scholarship included how I felt that the gaming community wasn’t very inclusive to female gamers and how I was so surprised that wasn’t the case at MSU. During my time at MSU, I have been accepted with open arms. I found a place I could connect with people in a way I didn’t think possible.”

Karston Perry, the FallsCon Gaming Convention vice president, knows how tough it is for students and is glad those like Thacker will have some needed help at MSU Texas.

“I have an embarrassingly large amount of student debt from my time in college (not all from MSU), so I know very well what it means to have some extra cash to help, even if it’s a small amount,” Perry said. “This amount can be put towards supplies, books, or even cafeteria meals, which means students can hopefully focus more on their studies instead of worrying about their bank accounts.

“And far more personally, giving back to the school that has helped give me the life I have today is an honor and a pleasure beyond words.”

FallsCon and MSU Texas Esports & Gaming Club began their partnership in Fall 2023. Collin Thiel, the Student Gaming Director, said student leaders and the club staff were thrilled to see FallsCon help with scholarship opportunities, and he appreciates what they have done to grow the Wichita Falls gaming community.

“It means the world to me that FallsCon generously provides scholarships to help any student in this way,” Thiel said. “My hope for the future of the MSU Texas Esports & Gaming Club’s partnership with FallsCon is that the scholarships can keep on being provided for many years to come, and more students will be able to gain this opportunity.”

Opportunity has long been a buzzword of importance for Zach Zoet, the Gaming Coordinator for MSU Texas Esports & Gaming. He said the partnership with FallsCon came about because both are big players in the tabletop space within Wichita Falls.

President Stacia Haynie enjoys watching MSU Texas Esports in action

FallsCon event with big crowd

“FallsCon had been successfully doing their thing for some years prior to us starting, but once we started hosting larger tabletop-themed events we eventually ran into each other and realized that we had a ton in common,” Zoet said. “We both wanted to push to make tabletop spaces inclusive, supportive, fun, and healthy. There can be a stigma associated with gaming and tabletop gaming where people feel that there are some serious barriers to entry and that they may be judged for not speaking the language of tabletop and coming ultra-prepared. And both of us felt that this was something we could use our shared reach to tackle!”

There are many MSU alums on the FallsCon leadership board. “It was apparent that their heart was still in supporting their alma mater and students, and so we started discussing different ways to maximize this and the scholarship was born,” Zoet said. “I view the scholarship as a necessary resource to do our part to help out students to be able to afford these increased expenses. Whereas our leaders in creating healthy tabletop spaces may have deferred purchasing additional materials to create great bonding experiences and memories with students in favor of groceries or books, now they are able to not forego these materials, groceries, or books due to the extra funds being invested precisely at the point of most impact – our students directly!”

Zoet feels FallsCon has done a great job of growing their nonprofit over the last few years, and he hopes the scholarship opportunities continue and even expand.

Perry has also been excited to see attendance grow at FallsCon from fewer than 50 attendees in 2016 to nearly 400 in 2023. “Our goal has always been to continue to grow FallsCon and make it a must-attend event for all of Wichita Falls and Texoma,” Perry said. “FallsCon gives our attendees opportunities to try something new in a completely judgment-free environment. Tabletop gaming can be intimidating for some folks, but we pride our event on being a great place for families with folks from all kinds of experience and interest levels to come together and spend an afternoon, a day, or even a weekend having a great time. From a massive board game library to a video game arcade to some great shopping, our goal is to have something for just about everyone.”

Thacker wanted to encourage young gamers to write their essay and apply for the scholarship. “The essay seems scary and long, but it is definitely worth it,” she said.

MSU Texas Esports celebrates a successful event

Photos courtesy of MSU Texas Esports & Gaming

The MSU Texas Esports team celebrates a successful event. 

Top feature photo, Blair Thacker of the Overwatch team. At left, MSU Texas President Stacia Haynie enjoys a MSU Texas Esports event. Top right, FallsCon hosts a big crowd at a Wichita Falls gaming event.

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