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On a Team or Solo: Esports players compete in northeast Wisconsin

Posted at 6:11 PM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 19:15:19-04

GREEN BAY — Esports players can compete in northeast Wisconsin, whether on a team or as a solo player.

  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offers an esports team, where players can compete in competitive video gaming
  • The College also has a room where students can drop in and use a computer for esports
  • A business in Ashwaubenon allows players to drop in and play esports on the lounge's computers

(The following is a transcript of the broadcast story.)

When most people think of sports, they think of the games played on the field or in an arena.

But what about esports?

I'm Jon Erickson in Ashwaubenon, with a look at how many of your neighbors are competing on computers.

"When I was around eight years old, my old man bought me and my brother an Xbox 360," [said Charlz Nash, an NWTC student.]

Charlz Nash says he began his love for gaming as a child.

"That was our first console ever, that’s when we really started getting into it," [Nash said.]

Nash turned that love for gaming into playing esports. He's on the team at NWTC.

He defines esports like this:

"Competitive gaming, down to its core."

He also has a job helping the esports team.

Talking with the Coach

"I was always very into gaming," [said Connor Sherwin, the NWTC esports head coach.]...

"We just have rows of these computers, and we’ll have all our competitive players sitting there side-by-side. They’re all talking about what’s going on in the game, they’re strategizing, they’re communicating, they’re leading," [Sherwin said.]

NWTC students can drop into this room and play, or join the team - which competes against other colleges.

Sherwin says esports overall ties into meeting people and making connections.

"Esports is something that should be taken as a social event, like hanging out at the mall would have been... a lot of people think even playing in your apartment by yourself is an anti-social activity. And I think that’s a pretty common misconception about esports, [but] it’s almost all inherently social. The nature of competition, the nature of having a team, you’re always communicating with your friends, with whoever you keep in touch with, even if you aren’t playing together, you sit in a call together."

Joe Richter is the NWTC student involvement supervisor; he said having esports on campus can help attract students to campus.

"The parents get excited because they're seeing their children get excited," [Richter said of prospective students touring the esports area.]

And it can also help keep NWTC students in school.

"Students who are engaged on campus are more likely to persist from one semester to the next, they're more likely to feel a connection with the college, and then the more likely they are to graduate with a credential," [Richter said.]

Lounge offers esports

For gamers who aren’t students at NWTC, an option is Edge VR Arcade & Gamers Lounge in Ashwaubenon.

Owner Aaron Gaskins talks about the experience:

"I remember when I was younger, going to LAN events, that's where everyone brings their PC in, we’re all playing in the same room," [Gaskins said.]

"Obviously, that’s what’s missing the most in esports, is you’re normally playing from home. You’re not getting the fist bumps, the hand shakes on a game well done. So being able to provide that, that experience for the kids, especially the younger kids you know, that has been massive."

And Gaskins says it's important for esports athletes to remember to take care of their bodies [including their] eyes.

“Physical health is just as important as traditional sports when it comes to esports, taking care of your eyes, taking care of your ergonomics, like how you sit," [Gaskins said].

"I mean, you can go eight hours a day in esports. It’s not the same as playing basketball, where you can’t do eight hours one day, then eight hours the next day, then eight hours the next day.”

Gaskins says they have plans to open an Appleton location, too.