The frontier of eSports made its way to Covenant College this week. Brought together through the Gaming Club lead by Brendin Rogers, over meals in the dining hall, and through hall community, Covenant students passionate about Overwatch were inspired to start a team. Lead by team captain Adam Vincent, the Scots met head to head with team 3-Support-Meta of Reed College, clenching our team’s first victory of 2 to 1.
The game is Overwatch, a team-based first-person shooter developed by Blizzard Entertainment. Two 6-man teams meet head to head to battle it out. There are 21 different maps, each with their own unique layout and objectives. The organization that made this all possible is Tespa; an intercollegiate eSports league that promotes college gamers across the country. With Overwatch prize pools as large as $120,000 in scholarships, it is an exciting train to board.
Competitive first-person shooters demand teamwork, strategy, fine motor skills, and much more to fair in this fast-paced environment. For a video game to become an eSport, it must present a fair, well designed, challenging platform for the players, much like the traditional sports we are all familiar with. League of Legends is currently the most popular competitive game, with a stunning player base of 100 million worldwide. Overwatch is currently grossing 30 million players as of this year, and the community is growing like wild fire.
On a global scale, the U.S. is a relative newcomer to the professional gaming scene. To veteran countries, such as South Korea, China, Japan, and across Europe it has been a cultural mainstay, and major form of competition for quite some time. Across the US, our neighborhoods are filled with basketball courts, baseball and soccer fields, and the athletic leagues to keep them occupied. In contrast, many cities in South Korea are filled with energetic PC bangs; LAN internet cafes where people gather to game together. Just as youth athletic leagues are scouted for prospective athletes, PC bangs are buzzing with scouts in search of talent.
Gaming should not be characterized by its “no-life” stereotype. It is no more addictive or detrimental than many of the countless tools and activities we currently encounter on a daily basis. In fact, competition brings a refreshing wind of balance to the community. Competitive gamers must maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, similar to a traditional athlete. Gamers exercise their brain like a muscle.
As Christians, we can all agree that athletic sports are a prime platform to grow in mind, spirit, and body, a tool to grow closer to one another and to God. Many Christian ministries are based around athletics, and many inspiring figures have been professional athletes.
It is important for us to meet our youth where they are. We live in a technological age where youth are spending more time in front of computers and less time outside. We must understand the gaming community to understand the culture of our next generation. Pro athletes have always shared responsibility for youth development. Christian pro gamers can enlighten the arena, and provide kids with the right kind of role models who point them to God.