Esports is here in full effect

Gamers take it up a level

Esports
Gregory Jackson, a 9th-grader at Case High School, plays Overwatch at Not Your Parents Basement during an Esports tournament. (Photo by Denise Lockwood)

Esports has arrived in Racine and is in full effect.

Not Your Parent’s Basement, a gaming lounge at 410 Main St., hosts Esports, an extracurricular competitive-based video game competition. Area high schools, including Horlick, Park, and Case have formed teams. Each of the schools held a  tryout and the best gamers from their respective schools compete at NYPB. But Esports does not exclude anyone.

“All students can try out, regardless of age (high school students only), gender, or ability/disability,” James O’Hagan, director of digital and virtual learning, community pathways center for the Racine Unified School District.

Owned by Ian Ballantyne, NYPB started up over a year ago, but Esports held its first official match on Monday. There are rows of high-end gaming computers for players of all sorts to compete at a high level, win prizes and gain bragging rights. Elite players can also qualify for a state-wide competition. The competition spans 8 weeks and culminates with a championship match in Fond du Lac.

“I’ve always enjoyed video games, but playing competitively is really exciting,” Devin Cortese, a student at Park High School

This field is growing and colleges are actively trying to attract Esports players to diversify their student pool. They even offer scholarships – schools typically offer between $500 and $16,000 a year to students.

With Esports, schools have the opportunity to redefine their athletic culture. Participation at NYPB is considered an extra-curricular activity for the students so the schools are diversifying in their offerings. In playing, the students learn about team-building and communication skills. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, data has shown that students who take part in extra-curricular activities have a higher GPA and better attendance.

What’s important is to address the ideas around gamers and break down stereotypical boundaries. For one, not all gamers sit on the couch 24/7 eating Cheetos and drinking Mountain Dew. The best gamers in the world train, eat and sleep like the best-trained athletes, O’Hagan said.

Esports allows students to engage in the gaming world in other ways than just playing video games. Now, students can be coaches, event organizers, social media managers, tech support, and shoutcasters (broadcasters on Twitch). The local casters comment on the events happening at the lounge so if students aren’t able to attend, they can at least follow the action online.

Some of the games played include Overwatch, League of Legends, Super Smash Brothers, and Rocket League. NYPB doesn’t just have video games – it has all kinds of games including board games. Also, at NYPB they have all the consoles: Playstation, Xbox, Dreamcast, and everything in between is available.

To find out more, visit NYPB online or on Facebook. For questions, email nypblounge@gmail.com or call them at (262) 320-8344. NYPB, 410 Main Street in Racine. It’s open Monday through Friday 3:30-5:30/6 p.m.



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