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Members of Penn Duelists meet every week to play Yu-Gi-Oh in Harrison College House, and sometimes even go to other Yu-Gi-Oh related events.

Credit: Jacob Winick I Contributing writer

Huddled around a table in the lobby of Harrison College House, the Penn Duelists’ interest in Yu-Gi-Oh! stems much deeper than cards.

After sitting down with them, College senior and Penn Duelists Founder Carol Bahri wasted no time in excitedly telling me everything she could about Yu-Gi-Oh!, from its origins as a Japanese comic to how the group enjoys watching the Yu-Gi-Oh! movie when they aren’t busy “destroying each other” in the card game.

The Penn Duelists are a group who gather each week to play Yu-Gi-Oh! and participate in related activities. While their Facebook page has 51 members, Bahri said that about five to eight show up to each week’s meeting. Although they gather in one of Penn’s high rises, many of the members are not Penn students. Members hail from other Philadelphia universities like Temple and Drexel, as well as from the greater community.

While some members of the club joked about my presence, laughing that the “media was investigating them,” Bahri explained the basics of the club and showed off her glow-in-the dark cosplay accessory. Cosplay — dressing up in manga-inspired costumes — is one of the many ways the Penn Duelists spend their time.

By the time I arrived in the Harrison lobby, I was already used to the lighthearted accusations. In the days before the club’s meeting, their Facebook page warned members that “mass media [was] coming to get dirt on the club” and a subsequent post reassured members that their inclusion in this article without consent violated “ethical journalism practices.”

University of the Sciences graduate Eric Hsiao, who asked to be referred to as a third-year professional, has led tournaments since the club began in August 2013. He stressed the club’s importance in the greater Philadelphia community.

“The club is really important to the area as it offers a place for Yu-Gi-Oh! to lots of people in the Philadelphia area. We don’t just play against each other,” Hsiao said. “We also go to different Yu-Gi-Oh! events where we get to destroy other people.”

While I watched the Penn Duelists slam cards on the table and challenge each other to battle, it became clear that the club was more than anything focused on creating a home at Penn and in Philadelphia.

When asked what his favorite part of the club was, College junior Brent Taylor replied simply “the people.”

“We play a lot together and that’s all fun, but what’s really amazing is how I’ve enjoyed my hobby with close friends,” Taylor said. “It has allowed me to enjoy my college experience and relax.”

Playing card games gives Penn Duelists members an opportunity to bond with each other while stimulating their minds.

“A lot of it is trying to interact with other players ... We try to play mind games with each other,” Taylor said. “We just like to relax and have fun with it.”

The Penn Duelists meet on Fridays at 6 p.m. in the lobby of Harrison College House.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Penn Duelists was founded in 2013 instead of 2014 and Carol Bahri was a College senior, not a graduate, at the time of publication. The DP regrets the error.

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