BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Esports is a growing community across the nation. It has made an impact on society and the gaming industry.

Some may ask, “What is eSports?” Esports is short for electronic sports, an organized competitive video game industry. It usually is a team competition in tournament play to win cash prizes or other awards.

Reports say that gaming was just a hobby until the first eSports event in 1972. The winner won a yearlong subscription to “Rolling Stone” magazine. Since then, eSports has grown tremendously. Professional gamers worldwide compete in front of millions of fans online. Now, it’s an afterschool activity.

Some schools in the Baton Rouge area have eSports as a club or committee. They include:

  • Southern University Lab School
  • Baton Rouge High School
  • Scotlandville Magnet High School
  • Woodlawn High School
  • Capitol Middle School
  • The Dufrocq School
  • Park Forest Elementary School

Reports show that playing video games in moderation can affect the brain in a positive way. Benefits include:

How has it affected youth in Baton Rouge?

“Esports affects my discipline and confidence,” said Vice President of Southern University eSports Noland Johnson. “Just like any skill, it takes a lot of time and practice to hone our playing, and getting into the routine of practices and games has definitely added some structure.”

“By facilitating, the students have taught me so much about the importance of esports. I was able to witness how much their cognitive skills, strategic thinking process, teamwork and communication have increased. It’s surely astounding,” said Anthony Xanamane, eSports sponsor at Woodlawn High School.

Xanamane said he’s seen participating members’ grades go up.

“I have a student that tells me every week about how his grades are rising. I do think when the students have something to look forward to after school, like eSports, they want to succeed in their education,” he said.

What’s it like to host an event?

Christopher Turner works as the coordinator for the Mixed Reality Virtual Innovation Gaming and Esports Institute. He said it’s not just a matter of walking into an auditorium and setting up a few computers.

“Hosting events like these take a lot of preparation and planning. We have to ensure the venue is equipped with the necessary technology and equipment, such as high-performance gaming computers and internet connectivity. We also work on developing rules and regulations for the tournament, including eligibility requirements, gameplay rules, and a code of conduct. It takes a lot of effort, but it’s all worth it when we see our students and community members enjoying and learning from these events,” said Turner.

Want to go to or play in an event?

Southern University Law Center will host the Bluff Open Tournament featuring Fortnite on April 21- 22. Online qualifiers begin Sunday, April 1.

The top eight teams attend the in-person tournament at the Law Center. The winning team will receive $750. Click here to register.