While esports teams can of course play together remotely over the internet, there’s something special about meeting up and playing in person.
Whether it’s at LAN, bootcamping or having a team social, there are lots of benefits of getting together with your team. And gaming centres present a good opportunity for them to do so.
The British Esports Association has been contacted by several gaming centres – and people who want to set one up – since we formed. To help find out more, we spoke to Ian Carr, co-founder of Jersey’s first gaming centre eSports.je.
The centre was opened in October 2015 by Ian Carr and head of event planning Ed Peck.
It runs between two and four competitions every week, in games including League of Legends, CSGO, Hearthstone, Street Fighter and more. It also boasts a gigabit internet connection.
“How many places are there where a team can meet up and practice?” Ian says. “There aren’t many – that sense of community is what makes it awesome.
“We have two forms of customers – a core group of gamers who visit all the time. And others who will turn up for one-off events.
“We charge £25 a month for full-time members, who have access to all events, including members-only nights. Or, people can purchase a one-off ticket for events for £5.”
Customers build up points for turning up, which they can use for discounts in the future.
The centre currently has 12 systems, but for its bigger events, eSports.je sets up in another hub – Digital Jersey – for weekends at a time. This hub was set up in 2012 as part of government efforts to push Jersey as a digital industry hub, increase the local economy and employment numbers.
In November 2016 eSports.je held its Winter Tournament Finals in games including League of Legends, Rocket League, Hearthstone, Street Fighter V and CSGO, which were streamed live and reached 17,000 people via Facebook.
eSports.je offers small cash prizes as incentives in its tournaments, from £300 for a winning team in its CSGO tournament, for example. It also gets sponsors on board for its tournaments.
It also streams live on Twitch, and has YouTube and Facebook channels too.
So what would the centre like to see from the UK esports scene in the future?
“It’d be awesome if gaming centres could seek a grant, maybe a minimum amount they could setup with, then they can book and buy all the things they need,” Ian says.
“It’s hard to start up a gaming centre like this – having a sponsor makes a huge difference and allows you to host bigger events.
“Changing the perception of esports for the better would be great too.”