Laughlin Air Force Base unveils new gaming team, empowering Airmen through digital engagement

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Laughlin Air Force Base recently launched its newest gaming team. Comprised of skilled Airmen, the Laughlin Gaming Team is on a mission to showcase their unwavering teamwork and dedication and emerge as champions in the competitive gaming realm.  

"The gaming team aligns with both improving quality of life and recruiting efforts within the wing," said 1st Lt. Andrew Bogden, 47th Flying Training Wing action officer and Laughlin's Air Force Gaming Team base ambassador. "The Airmen on the team are able to get together to practice and have fun the way that they want to. They also give perspective to Airmen that the Air Force is a place where you can represent and excel even outside your job at events like gaming.” 

Currently, the team focuses on participating in Valorant tournaments. Valorant is a team-based, tactical first-person shooter game that combines strategic gameplay, precise aim, and unique character abilities, offering an exhilarating experience for players and spectators. Players assume the roles of unique characters and engage in intense five-versus-five matches across various maps. 

Recently, the gaming Airmen participated in the Valorant Base Brawl Tournament with three other prominent Air Force Bases: Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE), Virginia, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL), New Jersey, and Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.  

The gaming team faced off against JBLE and JBMDL. The team lost both matches but remains motivated about competing against top performers. By aspiring to compete against top performers, they expose themselves to a higher level of competition that will push them to elevate their skills, refine their strategies, and deepen their understanding of the game. 

"The team would love to participate in more [Department of Defense]-sanctioned Valorant tournaments," said Senior Airman Jimmy Villanueva, 47th Communication Support Squadron cyber network operator and team captain. "We would like to make a statement and make our mark in the DoD gaming community, and it starts with representing and showing face in different tournaments and winning games." 

Next, the gaming Airmen are aiming for recognition as a top-performing team through their rigorous and collaborative training. Practices play a vital role in forging a strong camaraderie among the members. Each practice session becomes an opportunity to improve their gameplay and deepen their understanding of one another's strengths, weaknesses, and communication styles. 

"A part of growing our synergy is honestly just us goofing around and having fun throughout the game to win," said Villanueva. "We make sure that we keep the fun up ... and the grind higher. Since Valorant is a mental game, if just one teammate is having a rough game with a bad attitude, we won't be able to win. We, as a team, make sure that we have each other's backs, and we pick each other up to win the game." 

The concept of resilience lies at the core of Laughlin Air Force Base's gaming initiative. Gaming, with its dynamic challenges and requirement for adaptability, provides a modernized avenue for Airmen to exercise and enhance their resilience skills.  

"Valorant and this opportunity taught us and gave us the opportunity to be cohesive, tactical leaders through flexible and on-the-fly reaction-based decisions and communications that ultimately impact the outcome of the match," said Villanueva. 

The initiative aims to cultivate a supportive community and improve the lives of Laughlin’s Airmen. Through its involvement in various tournaments, the team serves as a modern and dynamic representation of the Air Force's dedication to embracing the diverse interests of its Airmen. 

"Watching our Airmen in the Laughlin Gaming Team showcase their creativity, critical thinking, and mental flexibility is truly inspiring,” said Col. Kevin Davidson, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. “The strategic and collaborative game planning they engage in mirrors the skills we utilize as military leaders. The team exemplifies the Air Force’s commitment to fostering critical thinking, collaboration, and mental agility, preparing our military leaders for the challenges that lie ahead.”