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Friday, July 12, 2024

Did Someone Say Wonderville? Hauppauge Native Hosts eSports Tournament in Bushwick

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Last Spring, the global shutdown forced people inside. Even though the coronavirus pandemic appears to be winding down, some are still searching for answers within themselves. 

Specifically, “where do I go from here?” 

For Connor Cunningham, 24, of Hauppauge, it isn’t a matter of where, or what. Merely when.

Laid off from his social media marketing job this past March, the Hauppauge alum and 2018 graduate of New York University thankfully had six months of Twitch streaming experience under his belt to parlay into the running blueprint for his next endeavors.

“One of the big things about COVID, is that it’s really forced people to be innovative,” Cunningham (pictured right) believes. “With all this time spent inside, you have to think: what is my life? When the world opens back up, what am I going to be doing? Because you don’t just come back from this the same way you were before.”

Cunningham utilized the self-reflection unforeseen circumstances afforded him to elevate his status within the online community at large. Since launching the “RabbitHouseGames” Twitch channel last Fall, his streams have raised over $3,000 for various charities, including Dreamscape Foundation – an organization designed to help people living with disabilities access the care they need.

With his passion running deep for “Eternal Return,” an underground Korean video game he described as an 18-player “battle royale,” Cunningham sought to further bring the online world together while the outside world remained apart. His channel currently has a respectable 367 follower base; but the latest stream – an “Eternal Return”-focused event for which he completed his first in-person hosting duties this past Saturday at “Wonderville,” a Bushwick barcade – raked in a whopping 1,466 views. Interested parties witnessed three preliminary groups match up in riveting exhibition.

“It was a really cool and intimate way of experiencing the game,” said Austin Curreri, 26, an attendee of the event. “The atmosphere and hosts, the high energy, it all blended together really well.”

Inherently, the streaming world can benefit in the absence of a physical “meet.” But Cunningham’s recognition that he can bring people together based on a common language does not stop there. What began as he and his friends’ ultimately thwarted plan to visit Japan after the since-delayed 2020 Olympics, culminated in Cunningham pursuing a CELTA degree to teach English as a foreign language.

Citing past pleasant experiences with language teachers, and his having studied Japanese for two semesters in college, Cunningham now ascertains that it’s only a matter of time [amid reports that, due to COVID, Japan will not open its doors until early 2022] before he relocates to Japan for an extended period. Both to teach his native language to Japanese students in a more hands-on capacity than he’s been doing as an online educator of late; and also to plow further ahead in the eSports world he’s become increasingly more immersed in on the homefront.

In the meantime, Cunningham will continue to build his Twitch stream following, and encourages others to find that thing they’ve always been passionate about but reluctant to commit to, and start doing so now.

“Start small, and start immediately,” Cunningham advised. “What can you do right now, even if it’s not big, or even if it’s just practice. The first step is always the hardest. It’s a weird little dream, at first; but the more you work, the less weird all of it will feel. Until one day, suddenly, you’re on stage – and hundreds of people are tuning in to see what you do next.”

Michael J. Reistetter
Michael J. Reistetter
Mike Reistetter, former Editor in Chief, is now a guest contributor to The Messenger Papers. Mike's current career in film production allows for his unique outlook on entertainment writing. Mike has won second place in "Best Editorials" at the New York Press Association 2022 Better Newspaper Contest.