By Noah Alatza
Westfield’s Grand Park Fieldhouse is now the home to the first Game On eSports center in the state.
eSports, which stands for electronic sports, is a team-based video-gaming competition. Genres include first-person shooter, real-time strategy fighting and multi-player online battle arena.
Game On has more than 80 state-of-the-art, high-speed computers, allowing the venue to host eSports leagues, tournaments and individual play. Game On is an eSports and educational concept with a stated mission to entertain, educate and inspire.
College scholarships for eSports have increased nationwide, according to Manager and Director of eSports Operations Noah Hankinson.
“There are more than 50-plus colleges across North America right now that offer full-ride scholarships to play eSports and represent their university,” Hankinson said. “We have opened up the opportunity for students that do not necessarily play basketball, baseball or football to pursue something that they are passionate about and actually get a college scholarship with it, or be recruited by a professional team during or after college.”
The company’s new Grand Park Fieldhouse center provides cutting-edge eSports experiences, technology, content and development through various leagues and tournaments. Optimal player training and several development programs will be offered.
“If an individual puts the time to train correctly, dedicated training and has a desire to play eSports in college, be ready to put in some work,” Hankinson said. “It’s not easy, but every element of obtaining the scholarship is 100 percent in your control.”
The 2024 Olympics will include eSports. The eSports complex also caters to several events and will play host to additional tournaments, parties and more.
“Birthday parties are another very popular event that takes place at Game On,” Hankison said. “We offer all of our games, food, drinks, in-house tournaments and much more.”
Game On officials said the group plans to be the leader in hosting competitive video game teams, leagues, tournaments and other events centered on specific game releases. Memberships and open play are available for every age group.
Mayor Andy Cook said Grand Park continues to be the driving force behind many upcoming projects and city-wide advantages for residents.
“Grand Park continues to produce wins for Westfield,” Cook said. “Game On is a great extension of a place where people come together for fitness, health and connection, and we are excited to welcome a strong emerging industry and even more participants.”
A professional eSports player can make a living participating in tournaments, living in a team house and traveling the world, much like a professional athlete. The average age of a professional eSports player is 20.
“This facility is the only one of its kind,” Hankinson said. “Westfield and Grand Park has a leading-edge eSports venue for major tournaments, championships, professional events and much more. It’s just a matter of time before eSports explodes. We’re going to be at the epicenter.”
eSports offered at Grand Park facility:
- League of Legends
- Madden 18
- Rocket League
*More games are added and removed as Game On progresses
For a full list of games offered, visit goesportscenter.com/leagues.
Breaking the Stigma: How to get involved
Memberships for individuals that are not looking for the competitive side of gaming are available. For those wishing to compete, many options exist on the novice and professional levels. Gold and Platinum gaming plans are available, with pricing beginning at $25 a month. For a full list of prices and membership plans, visit goesportscenter.com/membership.
“Come by Game On. We are located inside (Grand Park) Fieldhouse. Talk to myself or one of our team members about collegiate eSports, pro teams, training and more,” Hankinson said. “Even if you do play a traditional sport, eSports is an actual opportunity that individuals can grasp. eSports athletes make an average of $70,000 per year. Some athletes currently playing at a professional level are as young as 18 years old.”
Hankinson said eSports athletes’ schedules are identical to those who play in the NBA and NFL.
“They don’t just sit around and play video games all day,” Hankinson said. “They have a blocked schedule for every minute of the day.”