Board of DirectorsE-Board

Tommy Palka

“Basically top 100 FFXIV scholar player NA”

Class of ’20
Communications major, Psychology and Evolutionary Anthropology minor

Rutgers Esports President (’18-current) 
Director of Events (’18-current)

MMO club co-founder (’17)
MMO club president (’17-’18)

Tell me about yourself.
I’m Tommy, current president of Rutgers Esports. Gaming has always been an important part of my life, as a way to just relax and socialize with my friends. Coming into college, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do in my future, but Rutgers Esports made me realize that gaming, to me, could be more than just a hobby.

Talk about your roots in gaming and what it means to you.
My first gaming experience was either with Mario Kart 64 or Pokemon Yellow at the age of 3, and both games really had a lasting impact in my taste in games. I’m a huge Nintendo fan, and I’ve gotten basically every Nintendo console following the Nintendo 64 and the Gameboy, and Pokemon is one of my all-time favorite game series. It also started my love of RPGs (role-playing games) which eventually led to me getting into Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, two of my other favorite series.

Gaming has always been about the story to me. Obviously, many RPGs are focused around a story to tell, but in my opinion every gaming experience, even multiplayer gaming, has a story behind it. There are moments which you will tell your friends about even years after the fact, and that’s what I love so much about gaming; it really leaves a lasting impression.

If you had to choose your 2-3 top games/series, what would they be?
If I had choose my top three games, it would have to be Final Fantasy XIV, Pokemon Emerald… dude, this is such a hard question because I could say like Street Fighter, Kingdom Hearts 2, Persona 3…

Ok, I have a better question then; if you had to choose the best storyline out of all of your games played, what would it be?
Final Fantasy IV.

Talk about your time with Rutgers Esports; how did you hear about it and how did you get to where you are now?
I originally became associated with gaming clubs here after being invited to Dota club by one of my old high school friends, Miguel, at the start of my sophomore year. After a few months, Rutgers Esports had put out interest forms for clubs and I noticed that MMOs was one of the options for new clubs. At the time, I was really into Final Fantasy XIV raiding, and I hoped that I could help form a club so that I could bring people together and make friends with other people who play the game and raid with them. So I applied to start the club under Rutgers Esports and was selected as president of MMO club, which made me a Rutgers Esports officer.

At the time, I didn’t have many plans to be a prominent member within the organization; I was still a STEM major at the time and was mostly focused on my future in research. But following Fireside 2017, I saw the amount of hard work put in by members of the org for the community and it really left a huge impression on me. It really made me want to take a larger part in putting on these events for the gaming community here. So I asked David Chao, the events director at the time, if I could shadow him and eventually replace him as events director, and before I knew it, I had the position by the end of Spring 2018. And now here I am, president of Rutgers Esports after only a year of being part of the org.

What is the biggest challenge you face as Rutgers Esports President?
Time commitment; it’s often hard to balance my Rutgers Esports work with classwork, my hobbies, and my social life. (That’s why I don’t have friends haha xdddddd)

What kind of legacy do you want to leave when your time at Rutgers Esports is up?
I want to be remembered as a good president and events director; I want to make sure that the Scarlet Classic V is seen as one of the best iterations yet of the event and as a turning point in the relationship between the university and our organization. I also want to leave the organization in a better state than it was when I joined, hoping that some of the changes implemented increase stability and efficiency for the future.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope to work in event planning in the esports industry.