I was recently given the opportunity to donate some of my old gaming consoles and lag free TV’s to an underprivileged High School (Can’t Name). Although these will only be used in an after school gaming club, I still think this is an important step in introducing schools to competitive gaming.
A Little History
I have been running tournaments since 2011 on the East Coast of Florida. It was always a dream of mine to one day open a LAN center, be part of an eSports circuit, and one day find the next huge talent. So I formed an incredible group, and we got to work. We had to focus primarily on fighting games due to the limitations of the venues. No stable internet, power to run computers, etc.
Like most who start out in this industry, we relied on other people’s equipment to get started. However, we were always determined to provide our own, as we felt it made us more professional. We didn’t have much at this time, but we were able to secure four 19″ Insignia brand TV’s that were lag free enough to use for, Smash, Halo, and Call of Duty.
In between the days of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mortal Kombat 9, and Halo 4, we took a small hiatus. College, pregnancy and work can do that to a group. To be honest, I probably would have stayed retired if it hadn’t been for Frank hosting my first Smash 4 Tournament. I wrote a story about my time at that event, and the one after that you can find here.
With new determination, we went ahead and purchased three Wii U’s and 5 BenQ monitors. (though one Wii U has vanished.)
Right Time, Right Place
Needless to say we kept that equipment. Though the monitors are spread across the state of Florida with most of my friends using them. The TV’s stayed with me, and the Wii U’s were housed with a group member.
I recently moved across the state, and noticed that I still had the TV’s. So immediately I made the decision that I wanted to donate them, and the Wii U’s. However, every place that I called, had no use for them. Most of the big name (won’t list them here) charities, didn’t really want them. So I put it to the back of my mind, and moved on to the next thing.
Luckily while browsing Facebook, I read a post by a teacher at a High School here in Florida. This teacher was trying to find donations for his gaming club. Just something to give these kids something to do and keep them off the streets. I couldn’t be any more elated to reach out to him. This was exactly what I was looking for. A place to donate the equipment, where they could truly get used. We set up the meeting and I planned it for the next Monday.
Driving, Driving and More Driving
With some serendipitous timing, I was actually going to be near this school on Monday. Only problem was I didn’t have all of the equipment. To keep this part of the story short. Let’s just say I had to drive a total of 13 hours to get all of this done by Monday.
But, I arrived.
Introducing Schools to Competitive Gaming
I would like to take this opportunity to expand upon my theories and things we will require to creating a Repeatable Success Formula in eSports. One of those requirements is school involvement. As of writing this right now, there are quite a few colleges that offer Varsity eSports programs. With all of the viewership, and the increased revenue that eSports is gaining, colleges are starting to identify the value.
A huge portion of these teams all started as clubs that hosted various tournaments, and fostered competition on campus. Due to the expansion of these clubs and support from the Universities themselves, birth was given to the NACE (National Association of Collegiate eSports). Right now there currently boast over 90 Universities, and real career shaping through eSports. Read more on there website here.
All of this is exactly what eSports requires to hit the main stream and really acquire long term company endorsement. By being able to see and predict the performance of players coming out of College, teams will be able to acquire talent from a reliable source. Creating a type of farm system, similar to Baseball. It’s my belief that this extra level of confidence from both team owners and league coordinators will directly translate to corporate sponsors.
Eventually, and hopefully trickling it’s way down into High School. As a viable 2 year elective in Junior and Senior year. Both solidifying a repeatable success formula for pre and post college, but also setting the stage for eSports teaching.
For my donation, I get to believe that one of the students who plays will become inspired to compete. Find themselves through competitive gaming, and have it be the turning point to their successful career. Even if it’s just a dream.
I’ll keep dreaming.