How did the Y get involved in eSports?
Nationally, there have been several Y’s already testing out the pilot program. The response has been overwhelmingly positive! Players, YMCA’s, and parents have all enjoyed the experience and opportunity. As eSports has been more and more popular; with collegiate and high school teams popping up all over the place, it has created an excellent opportunity to put the Y’s mission and values into play to create a safe and positive environment for youth. By creating an official league and teams, we can add several other components to the experience than just “playing video games”.
What makes the Y League safe?
The Y is in a really unique spot to be able to maintain a safe and family friendly environment. Online video game lobbies can be very toxic and are very common areas for bullying. We have the ability to monitor chat rooms and game play. The Y has zero tolerance for that kind of behavior, and will remove those players from the league.
How is this a valuable experience for youth?
Both meeting sessions will be staffed with a coach. One day will be more of a practice and the other day will be ranked matches. The practices will have a curriculum that the coaches will go through. Each session, there will be various components including physical exercise, proper sportsmanship, and much more! It is so much more than just video games; it will have all of the benefits of physical sports (i.e. teamwork, sportsmanship, challenge, social interaction, etc.)
Who is this program meant for?
Anyone! It is a great opportunity for any player, regardless of their physical ability to be able to participate in a team sport. It is also a great program for youth who compete in physical sports as well. Literally any student in middle school or high school would be welcomed and would make a great fit in this program.
How does it work?
All brackets, teams, and players will be setup through an eSports platform called LeagueSpot. At the start of the season, players will get set in a bracket and will get an assigned match time (during our meeting times) that they will conduct their match. The players then will report the outcome of the match through LeaugeSpot and upload a screenshot of the score as a backup verification.
Players will also be invited to a special Discord Server (an online chat/info server) specifically for YMCA eSports. This space is monitored by Y staff across the nation to make sure that everyone is being positive and not hurting anyone else. This server has several different places to connect. There are channels for official league business, support, and just for chatting with each other. This gives players an opportunity to share strategies for their matches, build relationships with others with common interests, and take the video game experience further than just playing on the couch at home.
Does the Y supply the equipment?
The Y does have all the equipment necessary, and we have a really cool eSports cart that was made just for our league. It has 6 stations, each equipped with an Xbox Series S, a Nintendo Switch, and a TV. They Y will also supply all the video games, controllers, etc. If a player wanted to bring a gaming headset, they would be able to do so if they wanted, however, all personal items should be sufficiently labeled to help if they get lost or misplaced.
My child does not play any of the games currently offered. Are there other options?
Right now, we only have a few games to choose from for the YMCA Leagues. These will likely expand in time, but are currently limited to Super Smash Bros (Nintendo Switch), Rocket League, and NBA2K.
In the future, games will be added to the actual league. Future games may include games such as Fortnite, Madden, FIFA, etc. Games will always be limited to games rated Teen or below. Mature rated games are NOT being considered at this time.
As another option, our Y is exploring tournaments as well. These tournaments would likely be once a month and focusing on different game titles. This would likely be a one-day tournament. More info will be available in the future.
My child is not overly competitive. Will this be a good fit?
Absolutely! The matches will be ranked and skill based. After playing a couple of games, the brackets of the league will start to match players together who have a similar skill level. It wouldn’t be fun for many people at all to always have an incredibly one-sided match, so this should really help to keep it an interesting and fun experience for everyone.
Can I participate remotely?
Not at this point. While that will be an option in the future, we are focusing on an in-house option for now. In the future, there could be an opportunity for players to log in to all practices, matches, etc. from their home using their own consoles at home.