November 28, 2020

Webster University student invents game of pro-bending, modeled after cartoon series

Treasurer CJ Mertzlufft (left), President Jacob Kelleher (center) and Public Relations Specialist Tony Sanchez (right) hold the prototypes of the equipment they hope to use during play of pro-bending, a game invented by Kelleher. Pro-bending is modeled after the cartoon show “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” PHOTO BY DAN DUNCAN

Jacob Kelleher and members of a potential new club are trying to make fantasy a reality through pro-bending — a game Kelleher brought to Webster.

Kelleher, a sophomore video production major, will ask Webster University’s Student Government Association (SGA) for recognition of the Pro-Bending Club. The club focuses on what Kelleher calls a “defictionalized” sport, as seen in the popular Nickelodeon TV series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and its sequel, “The Legend of Korra.”

In both shows, the protagonist uses four elements — water, fire, earth and air — to battle opponents. Kelleher said this major aspect of the show attracted its fan base.

“The concept of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and ‘The Legend of Korra’ is the ability to move the elements,” Kelleher said. “It’s cool in that childlike way of, ‘I want to be a superhero.’ I don’t think anyone ever loses that.”

In Kelleher’s game, all players start in Zone 1. The number of times a player is hit by one of three objects determines the amount of points the player has. After a certain number of points, the player must move back a zone. Once a player is knocked out of the three zones, the player is out.

“Pro-bending is essentially a game of dodgeball played with two teams of people, and the goal is to knock your opponents back to gain more territory,” Kelleher said.

The team with the most territory at the end of three minutes wins.

Club members will be able to choose their elements and will only be allowed to act as a fire bender, water bender or earth bender during games. The benders use their designated tools to throw at opponents. Earth benders throw Frisbees, water benders throw foam footballs and fire benders throw dodgeballs.

“I ended up changing water, like, five times. It was very painful,” Kelleher said. “First, water element was water balloons, but then I realized we couldn’t play in winter.”

CJ Mertzlufft, treasurer of the of Pro-Bending Club and a sophomore film production major, compared pro-bending to Quidditch and Humans vs. Zombies.

“It’s like Quidditch. People like Harry Potter, so they want to do something like that,” Mertzlufft said. “People like hunting and killing zombies, so they want to do something in real life that’s similar to that.”

Kelleher said he saw a “semi-viral” Internet post from a person requesting someone to create the game.

“I saw the post on the Internet and showed it to my friend and talked about how fun it would be to actually play this game,” Kelleher said. “The post got a few likes (on Facebook) and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I spent that night rewatching the episodes and trying to figure out how to make this happen — elaborating on the rules and other stuff. Then, I posted the rules that night, got a few more likes and

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