Esports is not just a video game

The gaming competition club is banned from their Overwatch tournament

Kimma Juaire

Since 1978, electronic sports, or esports, is popular with the mainstream media. From the early days of arcade competitions to the arena tournaments of the present, the way video games are seen changed. Streaming and Youtube became hubs for gaming content ranging from choosing your own adventure to first-person combat paired with the reaction of someone with a headset and mic. The popularity even spread past the screen to schools around the country as a competitive club. 

The esports club competed in multiple tournaments, one of which is “Overwatch”, a multi-player game that involves completing missions and defeating opponents as a team to win. But the value in esports is not just in competing against your peers on a digital racetrack or teaming up to beat the final boss, but college scholarships. The esports team was top-ranked among east coast schools and were given the opportunity to compete in a national tournament against other schools from different states. Winning, or even placing in the tournament, could reward students over $1,000 in scholarship money. 

“Esports is worldwide,” junior Marc Nusser said. “It probably amasses more views than typical sports right now. More and more schools every year are starting to participate because they see the value in it.”

Although the good in clubs like esports is teamwork and financial support for college, not everyone can see past the question that has plagued video game culture since it started: “Do video games cause violence?”

Esports competed in multiple tournaments based on one game, like Overwatch, a multi-player game that involves completing missions and defeating opponents to win. This question was brought up again when the esports club posted screenshots of their “Overwatch” victory page on their Twitter account. The Twitter post featured the word “kill”, which alarmed Volusia County staff. This resulted in “Overwatch” being blocked from the district server, preventing the game from connecting. The esports teams were not made aware of the ban when it happened. 

“We tried to log in to practice [for the tournament],” senior team captain Celecia Booth said. “The server wouldn’t load. That’s when we realized Overwatch was blocked.” 

The esports team was unable to play at the tournament because the game would not connect to the school server. This was a huge loss to the club, not only because they could not compete in the tournament, but they were missing out on the opportunity to get scholarships. Club sponsor David Manning was a leading force in the effort to unblock the game. He went to multiple school district meetings, spoke to district staff, and spent late nights trying to figure out the problem. 

“I tried to show them the benefits of the esports program we had been working on,” Manning said. “The ban affects students’ ability to get scholarships and esports helped with that.” 

After Manning spoke to district staff and pleaded his case, the county temporarily lifted the ban until the students could finish the tournament season. The block would be reinstated until district officials could make a permanent decision. Whether that decision is about the rules and regulations or the existence of esports in Volusia County is anyone’s guess. 

“Mr. Manning was really the driving force to get Overwatch unblocked,” Nusser said. “It’s still unsure whether or not esports is going to be a thing next year.”

With the growth of video games in the mainstream media, it is not surprising that gaming has taken over the entertainment industry to the point where high school students were awarded scholarships for their skill and strategy behind the screen. The esports team, as well as Mr. Manning, are hopeful the ban will be lifted and they will be able to compete again. 

 “Esports is getting too big to ignore,” Manning said.