Virtual schooling options available at Lubbock gaming facility
LUBBOCK, Texas — Contender eSports in Lubbock said Wednesday it would share their resources with students in the community with an online school location for families who may not be ready to send their children back to a busy school just yet.
The business opened up in July as a video game facility. With the landscape of education quickly changing, management decided they could use their facility to help out the community.
“When we saw there might be a need in the community for virtual schooling locations, we immediately were like, yes, let’s jump in there and see what we can do to help,” said owner Rachel Kiwior.
Management explained the program could serve as a possible solution for parents who may not be ready to send their children back to a busy school who also may not have the necessary resources or time to keep them focused at home.
“If you’re a parent, maybe you’re working from home, it’s hard to do your work and teach your child throughout the day, ” said Kiwior. “We’ve got someone here to help all day. If they have any questions, we’ve got a dedicated person to help them with their schooling.”
The facility is available for students in grades three through 12 and would be open during regular school hours, but with flexible pick up and drop off times for parents.
The business would go about its regular business for gamers throughout the day and are currently flexible with how many students they would take in, the maximum being 45.
Students who have opted for virtual learning have been provided Chromebooks by their prospective school districts. Contender eSports said students would use those to do all of their school work but would have opportunities to use the desktop computers and gaming systems during breaks.
“We have a set structure, so they’re going to be doing school work, and we have worked in breaks during that time as well so that they can have a little bit of fun,” said Kiwior. “They will bring their Chromebooks here, they will connect to our Wi-Fi, it’s high speed, so they should have any connection problems.”
Lubbock ISD Assistant Superintended Misty Rieber said parents who opt for online learning should be aware of what it means to sign up for virtual school.
“They’re making a commitment to a full day of learning, ” Rieber said. “The full schedule, the rigor, the same grading system, the same grading as our students and the same face to face instruction.”
Contender eSports said they hope their program would help to fill the gap for parents who may not be ready to make that much of a commitment, even though, they are not ready to send their children to school.
“They’re going to be around the same people every day but at a safe distance, and we will make everything clean and safe for you,” said Kiwior. “We do have a policy that everyone should be wearing a mask, so we require all of our employees to have a mask on. We’re trying to keep a safe environment – we clean after every single customer everything is wiped down.”
As an employee at Texas Tech’s College of Engineering, Kiwior explained it is important for all customers to follow the governor’s orders and wear masks and maintain social distance.
In addition to having a tutor available, students would have the opportunity to learn other skills while they are attending the program.
“We have a program where they can learn to code, they can actually create their own app and their own game, so hopefully after this experience, they can take that with them,” said Kiwior.
The schedule would also be flexible. Parents could choose to send their children for five days a week, or three days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) or two days (Tuesday and Thursday).
The price of the program is $30 a day per student, but management said they would work with each individual and hope to offer scholarships to make the program affordable for everyone.
For more information on how to sign up, visit their website.
Endeavor Rx, the video game, is designed to help with sensory and motor tasks and improve cognitive skills.
Michael Chapman works at Contender E-Sports here in Springfield, he says he’s happy video games are being seen in a better light.
“We’ve been saying at Contender for a long time that gaming has been a positive force for kids and adults,” said Chapman. “We love the communities we see here when people come in, when they come together. We’ve always seen the social aspects. It’s great to see a more scientific approach and some more benefits proven. Even above and beyond what we’ve always said what’s great about video games and video game culture.”
The FDA also says the game can help children with attention function.
Former footballer David Beckham is now the co-owner of the UK based esports start-up Guild Esports. Beckham, the owner of MLS team Inter Miami, sees the fast-growing esports market as the next big thing. So, it was only a matter of time before this happened.
Guild’s executive Chairman Carleton Curtis is probably the best man to lead this start-up. He is the one who helped develop the extremely famous Overwatch League and has also worked with the Call Of Duty League. Apart from that, he has also worked at Red Bull and renowned game developer Activision.
Guild plans to use the traditional academy model, where players will be coached by the best in the business and represent their respective teams. Guild’s inaugural team looks to make its debut by autumn this year in competitive Fortnite, FIFA & Rocket League.
David Beckham and Carleton’s statements on the partnership
The esports experience of Carleton combined with the traditional sports experience of Beckham makes it a unique partnership. Carleton commented “The meteoric rise of esports shows no signs of slowing down and this is the perfect moment for Guild Esports to enter this exciting market. We have built an experienced management team and I am proud to have Beckham as co-owner in this venture as his professionalism and deep experience of developing high-functioning sports teams align with our core strategy of building the best in class esports teams.”
Beckham also made a statement saying “I know that determination lives in our esports athletes today and at Guild we have a vision to set a new standard, supporting these players into the future. We are committed to nurturing and encouraging youth talent through our academy systems and I am looking forward to helping our Guild Esports team grow.”
Guild has also acquired the services of Fergus Purcell, a London based artist. He is tasked to create the brand identity of Guild and develop a lifestyle-apparel brand inspired by streetwear.
The future of esports looks bright
Over the past couple of years, the eSports industry has grown exponentially. Even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this is one particular industry that has seen an increase in fans and viewership. According to reports, the eSports industry is currently valued at $1.1bn. It is expected to grow to $1.56bn by 2023, a growth of about 42%.
Naturally, this attracted investors who now see this as a very lucrative industry. But, Beckham is not the first celebrity to invest in eSports. In fact, since 2018, a large number of celebrities and athletes have invested in various esports organizations
Michael Jordan, principal owner of NBA team Charlotte Hornets invested $26mn in aXiomatic Gaming, which owns the famous esports organization Team Liquid. Hollywood manager Scooter Braun and Drake are co-owners of 100 Thieves. Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala were part of a group that invested $37mn in TSM.
With the world still at a standstill, esports is the one major source of entertainment for people across the globe. This only means that the industry will grow exponentially and try to explore newer markets to scout for talent.
We are extremely excited to see the talent Beckham’s organization produces in the coming future.
Corey Riggs of MC22 “From the Studio” interviews Founder and CEO of Contender eSports, Brett Payne.
What are eSports? What is Contender eSports? True or False: “No one is going to pay you to play video games and you can’t go to college on a video game scholarship”. Learn the answers to these and much more in this video.
Firm’s latest analysis shows 46% of all video game enthusiasts are female
Newzoo has released new research that shows women make up almost half of all gamers, as well as offering some insight into how they engage with the medium.
The study broke down gamers of all types into eight distinct personalities based on their preferences and how much time they dedicate to gaming. This was developed by researching consumer habits from 30 markets around the world.
46% of the people spread across the eight gamer types were found to be female, amounting to more than one billion.
The most common type of female gamer is what Newzoo refers to as the ‘time filler’ — people who play games to pass the time, most likely on mobile. 36% of all women in the study came under this category, compared to 19% of men. In fact, women account for almost two thirds of all ‘time fillers.’
17% of women were considered ‘cloud gamers’, making this the second biggest category for the gender. According to Newzoo, ‘cloud gamers’ prefer high-quality games — especially if free-to-play or heavily discounted — and only spend on hardware when necessary. This is the group most likely to benefit from the likes of Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project xCloud.
14% were classed as ‘popcorn gamers’, who enjoy playing games but prefer watching games content via Twitch, YouTube et al. Women made up 46% of all ‘popcorn gamers’, making it the most evenly balanced group in terms of genres. However, men aged 21 to 35 were most likely to fall into this category, accounting for 22% of ‘popcorn gamers.’
More than a fifth of all males were ‘cloud gamers’, making this their top category, followed by ‘time filler.’ Third was ‘ultimate gamer’ — those that love both playing and owning games, and dedicate the most time to it. 15% of men were classed as ‘ultimate gamers’ — just under two thirds of this group — versus 9% of women.
Women who were ‘ultimate gamers’ were most likely to be aged 26 to 30, whereas ‘time fillers’ were most likely to be 51 to 65 and ‘conventional gamers’ — those who prefer playing alone, and don’t watch much games content — were most likely to be aged 36 to 40.
There’s a new sport gaining popularity, and it doesn’t involve a field, a court or even a ball.
In this sport, you can catch gamers banging away at their keyboards, competing against other players in a virtual sphere.
This is the new world of esports, or electronic sports, and it is a growing phenomenon that’s attracting a new kind of athlete.
“I always say games are easy to pick-up on, difficult to master,” said Christian Anton, a third year student at the University of Denver and a member of the DU Esports Club team.
The world of esports just crowned its first world champion team, the London Spitfire, and a growing number of universities are even offering scholarships to competitive video gamers.
“It’s really becoming a mainstream activity, especially among millennials and those younger than me, like Gen Z,” Anton said.
Anton is a computer science major at DU, with a triple minor in mathematics, history and public policy. A smart guy who argues his fellow keyboard warriors are, without question, athletes.
“The definition of what is a sport and what isn’t is rather fluid,” Anton said. “Some people say stuff like car racing is a sport, while others say, ‘All they do is turn left for about three hours.’ What you can’t argue with is it’s a task that you can improve with over time and with practice.”
At DU and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, there are now both casual and competitive esports clubs.
“It really should be considered a sport,” said Kyle Tong, a founding member of the casual esports club at CSU.
The clubs even have team captains, like Reave Hosman, for different games and skill levels.
“With every incoming freshman or first year class, we’ve grown,” Hosman said. “We’ve doubled, we’ve tripled. It really is incredible.”
Gaming is also bucking the stereotype that it’s a loner activity.
“There is a lot of camaraderie among fellow gamers,” Tong said. “And they socialize together. They’ll play a game together and they’ll go talk and say, ‘Oh, you’re this person, you’re that person. It’s nice to get to know you in person. Oh, it’s great to meet you.'”
Esports is certainly big business, inspiring new gaming centers like a huge facility in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.
“It’s big enough to be called an arena,” said James Love, director of communications for N3rd Street Gamers. “We have one in Philadelphia and one in Denver. In a nut shell, esports is competitive video gaming. I like to call it the biggest industry that nobody has heard of because it has flown under the radar for so many years.”
But those days are perhaps over. And Love said these controller commandos exhibit uncanny reflexes and more.
“There is an extraordinary amount of hand-eye coordination,” Love said. “It also takes a lot of focus. It takes breathing. So, a lot of the training that goes into traditional sports translates to the training that esports athletes go through.”
Let’s get physical
At one of Denver’s premiere one-on-one physical training facilities, The Body Shaping Company, trainer Briana Phillips appreciates the intensity of gaming.
“There’s definitely some skill involved within esports,” Phillips said.
But, she said the dedication, focus and skills of traditional athletes versus gamers are night and day.
“On a physical level, having to perform, whatever sport it is — you can’t really create that sitting down watching a screen,” Phillips said. “It’s just a different level of physical activity, dedication and passion.”
Equestrienne Natalie Anderson spends several hours a week in the gym.
“This is what helps me continue to compete at the level that I enjoy doing,” Anderson said.
She argues the stakes are simply higher for traditional athletes compared to gamers.
“I can certainly appreciate the skill it takes to master anything,” Anderson said. “But, I don’t think they’re necessarily comparable in that you’re not putting your body on the line in esports. There’s just a physical component of, if I come in and I’m not focused, I could have a serious accident or get hurt.”
While there are certainly a myriad of opinions, esports is certainly a game changer. And, it’s dispelling stereotypes about playing video games.
Dispelling the stereotypes
“The idea that it’s a 300-pound guy in his mother’s basement or something like that? Totally wrong,” said University of Denver computer science professor and department chair Scott Leutenegger.
He said the intellectual abilities of esports athletes are unmatched and undeniable.
“Beyond fast reflexes, they work with a team, they communicate, they think ahead,” he said. “That’s called telescopic probing — if I do this and this and this. Just like chess. Thinking in multiple stages of what you are going to do, but unlike chess, you need to do it as a team. So, in many ways, it’s much more complex than chess.”
Leutenegger said gaming builds a sense of community and esports clubs can help build a university’s reputation.
“I do think more and more universities will be providing scholarships to esports athletes. Absolutely,” Leutenegger said.
Are the players nerds of jocks? He said probably both.
He also pointed out that there are thousands of job opportunities in esports game development and programming.
“These students are actually getting into a career field that is going to be rewarding to them in many ways,” Leutenegger said. “It is going to be lucrative to them.”
Women in esports
For professionals like Cait Culpepper, esports is a culture and career field that’s changing all the time.
“It’s exciting,” she said.
She said her handle name is ‘TinyCait.’
Culpepper is breaking barriers. First, as a woman in esports.
“I think there’s definitely room in this esports sphere,” she said. “We just need to make room for ourselves.”
And second, beyond competing, she’s making a name for herself as an esports event organizer.
“My dad always asked me how I was going to make money doing this,” Culpepper said. “I spent 10 years in the fashion industry in Los Angeles. Eventually, I was like – I just need to take a risk and try to get into this industry and it has worked out so far. I’m an event manager planning big, amateur, open tournaments.”
Those kinds of tournaments can pay out huge purses, similar to golf.
Love said the prize pools range from $500 to $10,000, and it’s only growing. The higher you place, the more you earn.
“Just like every sport, you have the elites,” Leutenegger said. “And you can make a lot of money.”
Beyond that, Anton said you can also pick up sponsors and some leagues are discussing annual salaries.
“They’re trying to make salaried employees where their primary income is from their sports team, like the NFL or NBA,” Anton said.
Corporations are certainly starting to take the surge in popularity seriously. In a recent tournament that aired nationwide, Coca Cola, Toyota and State Farm all paid for advertising time.
Eliminating socioeconomic barriers
The doors at N3rd Street Gamers are also wide open to the casual gamer. It’s just $10 to play for four hours.
“There’s a low barrier of entry,” said Love. “And there’s a huge demographic of gamers here. We want to provide you a safe place to game with the best equipment possible.”
Whether you consider them athletes or not, esports are certainly becoming more mainstream and popular by the minute.
“It’s not a sport in the traditional sense. We’re not physically exerting ourselves, that’s pretty obvious,” Hosman said. “But, I would say that these games, with the amount of focus and the amount of hand-eye coordination and the amount of effort that we put in, are as — if not more — mentally draining than any other sport out there that people play.”
Tong said they have the competitive spirit — their fun just happens to take place on a computer.
“What’s so wrong with that?” he said.
Anton said esports is also a great way to make new friends.
“Everybody on the team has a different role they can fill, or several different roles,” he said. “Just like you have your quarterback, your linemen and your wide receivers in football. In a game such as Overwatch, you have your team.”
Those teams include several different roles, like healers, attackers, attacks and more. The team has a goal they work toward together.
“It’s not a bunch of couch potatoes,” Leutenegger said. “It’s a bunch of active people that also do esports.”
Esports organization Gen. G has raised $46 million in funding with big name Will Smith part of the group of investors. This move comes as China looks to capitalize on esports growth in the region and new tournaments fill up the esports calendar for 2019. The new funding will help increase brand awareness and prepare teams for future tournaments.
It also helps to have such a star as Will Smith investing their cash into your organization. The industry as a whole is expected to pull in more than $1 billion in revenue.
Say hello to the European Esports Federation
National esports organizations from 12 countries within Europe gathered in Berlin to discuss plans to launch a new European Esports Federation, which would be positioned as such that it would be able to oversee the industry in participating countries. As reported by Esports Insider, attendees compiled The Berlin Declaration, outlining what the group aims to achieve.
Countries who sent representatives to the event to found the new European Esports Federation included the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Belgium. With so much money expected to be generated from esports in the coming years, it makes sense to start forming such federations.
Let’s FACEIT, PUBG was great in London
This weekend saw the FACEIT Global Summit competitive finals for PUBG held in London. Attendees who watched the games at the ExCeL Arena in London were rewarded with the opportunity to win big using their FACEIT accounts as an added bonus. The event was but phase one of PUBG’s esports calendar for 2019, inviting 24 teams from around the world to participate on the big stage.
We’ll have additional coverage from the show at the ExCeL Arena in London so stay tuned.
PHOTO: The crowd roars during the Overwatch League finals on July 27 at the Barclays Center in New York City. Market research firm Newzoo released projections for the esports industry Tuesday that include $1.1 billion in expected revenues for 2019. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Blizzard Entertainment
The esports market is expected to eclipse $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2019, according to a market report from research firm Newzoo released on Tuesday.
The esports industry brought in $865.1 million in revenue in 2018, according to Newzoo, and stands to reach $1.1 billion in 2019 based on the company’s projections. With a growth rate of 22.3 percent year over year, Newzoo predicted that the industry will rake in $1.79 billion in revenue by 2022.
These numbers are more modest than previous reports from the firm, which outlined $1.5 billion by 2020. The industry will take an additional year, to hit those numbers, according to Tuesday’s report.
The audience for the space is also expected to grow to include 453.8 million people who consume at least one esports event per year in 2019, with 201 million of those fans watching at least one esports event per month, according to the firm. In 2018, Newzoo found 394.6 million people watched at least one esports event per year.
In October and November, more than 58.3 million hours of the League of Legends World Championship were consumed by viewers, with the majority of that viewership stemming from China. By comparison, the second most-watched tournament, the Dota 2 Asia Championships in February 2018, accrued a total of 12 million hours viewed.
The majority of the esports revenue will come from brand investments, which Newzoo categorizes as sponsorships, advertising and media rights. Forty-two percent of revenues are projected to come from sponsorships, which have hit record numbers in the past few years, according to the report. In the past few months, companies such as Coca-Cola, Alienware and others have forged global deals with the Overwatch League and League Championship Series respectively.
Newzoo also predicted an uptick in interest from media companies both on digital and linear TV. In late 2017 and throughout 2018, the League Championship Series and Overwatch League struck multimillion-dollar deals with ESPN, while the Overwatch League also finalized a two-year, $90-million deal with Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch. Other livestreaming platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Caffeine — which raised $100 million from Fox News in September — have committed to making bigger investments in the space as well.
Despite increased interest and revenues, average spending per fan will likely increase but still remain very low compared to traditional sports, Newzoo said. In 2019, regular esports consumers will spend $5.45 per year on esports, excluding the purchase of game titles.
Of the 173 million people who consumed esports more than once a month, 72 percent were men, while 28 percent were women, according to Newzoo’s report. The dominant age range for both was 21-35, including 39 percent of men and 15 percent of women. Of viewers who watched at least once per year, Newzoo found that 66 percent were men and 34 percent were women.
Although the benchmark of $1 billion provides optimism, there are some signs that the esports industry is struggling in other areas. Despite more than $500 million being committed to franchise fees in both the Overwatch League and Riot Games’ League Championship Series and League European Championship in 2017 and 2018, some investors have looked to sell, while some teams have made layoffs within the last six months.
In October, OpTic Gaming and Houston Outlaws parent Infinite Esports & Entertainment — which committed $33 million in franchise fees to the Overwatch League and League Championship Series in 2017 — laid off 19 employees and ousted CEO Chris Chaney. Their main shareholders, a group comprised of Texas Rangers owners Neil Leibman and Ray Davis, are now looking to sell majority stake of that company for around $150 million, ESPN reportedin January.
Infinite’s ownership group is not alone. Vision Venture Partners, the parent of Echo Fox and Twin Galaxies, had layoffs in November after its H1Z1 Pro League began to unravel in fall 2018. The Overwatch League had layoffs, too, after it overspent its original estimates, league sources said. Its parent company, Activision Blizzard, also shuttered the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship in December, and Activision Blizzard is expected to lay off hundreds employees this week, per a Thursday report from Bloomberg.
BY JACOB WOLF, ESPN STAFF WRITER FEBRUARY 12, 2019 02:39 PM
The next time you see someone with eyes glued to a computer screen, fingers rapidly mashing buttons on the keyboard, occasionally twitching toward a pile of nearby energy drinks, don’t assume he’s wasting his life on video games.
That person could be just as talented at his (or her) respective passion as a Division I football or basketball player. There’s also a chance that person will go on to participate in a form of college competition, esports, and earn scholarships just as valuable as those secured by counterparts on the football field or basketball court.
And if college competition is in the offing, whether they’re in Seattle or back east or elsewhere in the Midwest, a lot of their direction will probably come from right here in Kansas City.
Esports originated as a free-for-all battlefield when it came to organized competition, especially at the collegiate level. But now, thanks to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), competitive collegiate esports has a platform on which to build.
Based inside the NAIA’s offices on Grand Boulevard in Kansas City and working in conjunction with a host of NCAA and NAIA schools, NACE is the umbrella organization for collegiate esports programs nationwide, from four-year universities to smaller schools like Park University in Parkville, the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan., and KC’s Columbia College.
“It’s a lot of STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) majors, which is a whole different demographic than you would see in traditional sports,” said NACE marketing manager Victoria Horsley. “So we’re reaching out to a whole set of students and a whole different niche, and it’s really nice to be able to see them blossom in college like other people can.”
Since launching in July 2016 under NACE executive director Michael Brooks, the organization has grown to govern more than 120 schools — or 94 percent of colleges currently involved in esports.
Horsley said schools such as Missouri and Wichita State often start out playing Overwatch and League of Legends — two popular video games — when they submit their declaration of intent with NACE. Many later branch into games that are considered more niche, such as Rocket League, Rainbow Siege Six and Counter-Strike: Global Offense.
NACE has yet to see a groundswell of support for collegiate esports competing in traditional sports games — FIFA or Madden, for instance — because game developer EA Sports typically stages its own competitions.
But it’s not just the opportunity to play at the collegiate level that attracts prospective participants.
“Some of our schools don’t offer a whole lot, and then some offer full rides (scholarships),” Horsley said. “It just kind of varies depending on the school, and how much money they have.
“But we hosted a Smite and Paladins tournament in the fall, and we offered $100,000 in scholarships in partnerships with Hi-Rez Studios, which is the developer of those games.”
The relationship between participating colleges and NACE is a two-way street, with schools often incorporating esports into their official teams in order to draw in more STEM majors. The average ACT score of esports students governed by NACE is an impressive 30 out of 36.
“Traditional sports attract the other side of college offerings: School of Business, School of Journalism, those kind of things,” Horsley said. “It’s really beneficial to us to see that … a president of a university can ask, ‘How can I get more math majors?’ and then they see something like esports come in and they see that’s a way to draw attention to (STEM) students.”
At the start of 2018, NACE had just 50 schools in its books. A year later, that number has more than doubled.
Horsley looks forward to the continued growth of both NACE, here in Kansas City, and esports overall.
”For us, personally, it’s awesome,” she said. “We’re kind of on the ground floor of something that is really, really growing. I think it’s really, really great. I get to see the firsthand changes that it makes for students.”
With one of the fastest growing fan bases in pro sports, a youthful global audience that’s already larger than Major League Baseball’s and top players who are quickly joining the ranks of millionaires – eSports have entered the mainstream phenomenon.
Did you know?
The eSports monthly audience in 2018 has reached 167M and is predicted to reach 276M by 2022.