Esports take center stage at Hoover High School with new competitive video game facility
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The eSports team at Hoover high school has a new space to play. K PBS speaks, city Heights, reporter Jacob air takes us there
Speaker 2: (00:11)
An already thriving eSports team got a recent upgrade at Hoover high school, not in a video game, but in real life, the club has a brand new space on campus dedicated to competitive gaming, and it's fully stalked with high-end computers, gaming chairs, headphones, and a lot more.
Speaker 3: (00:28)
I'd say the most popular game that's running on right now, at least in this eSports is still rocket league, super smash bros and ball
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Club captain in Hoover high school, senior Henry qu says the new room is a huge improvement from before.
Speaker 3: (00:43)
Honestly, it's been amazing. I remember I first joined the eSports club here at ho during my sophomore year, and we kind of have like a little underground, I would say thunder era. And we usually play on the school computers. We never kind of had that, uh, luxury. You trying to build one
Speaker 2: (01:03)
For every sports team. There was a coach for Hoover high school's eSports club. It's Jack Wetzel, who also runs the robotics club and teaches math and computer science at the school he's been in charge of the program since 2016.
Speaker 4: (01:16)
I think eSports is, is, is just any digital sport. And it ranging from any, from chess to these competitive first person shooters. But if I was gonna say what it is here at Hoover, it's really a community. And it's it's about students having a safe place where they have like-minded people to collaborate and be friends with
Speaker 2: (01:37)
Hawaii says eSports, provide him an escape from real world difficulties whilst time with his friends, which has been a challenge since the pandemic
Speaker 3: (01:46)
For my sophomore year, I was pretty lonely. I would say during the pandemic, uh, didn't really have anything to talk to. So I would always just play games and having social interactions on there.
Speaker 2: (01:57)
Hoover high is just one example of the blossoming eSport scene in San Diego. San Diego state is about to launch a new certificate program called business of eSports, which is open to people of all ages. Newton Lee will be one of the professors. He sees eSports in line with social media platforms, but says they offer competition for all and are more inclusive than traditional sports.
Speaker 5: (02:19)
It doesn't matter if you're black or white or a kid or, or old man or old woman physical disabled, or, you know, fiscal strong, fiscally strong. They all can compete in the same game. To me, that is really truly amazing. You cannot see that in any fiscal sports
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Wetzel says the new room is just the start. They already have competition set up with other schools from around the area and he plans to try to make east sports, a lettering sport in high school,
Speaker 4: (02:46)
High school eSports league is the, the national, um, organization. That's helping gather everybody together. And they're the ones that actually host those games. And then from there, they, the colleges are looking on those websites to see which teams are scoring highest, which ones are doing well through the competitions. Um, and then on top of that, there's actual scholarships from high school eSports league
Speaker 2: (03:09)
Professor Lee says the future of eSports is very bright. In fact, he sees the new SDSU eSports program and other similar educational offerings as a gateway into the science technology engineering and mathematics fields.
Speaker 5: (03:23)
So it makes them especially high school students. More curious about, well, maybe, you know, I'm not going to professional gamer, but I can design your hardware or, oh, I'm really good in art. I can do animation. So that's something that they may not have thought of if there are no eSports
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Professor Lee says one of the biggest challenges for the eSports industry at the moment is the need to introduce more women. But he says it will be difficult because of a number of players creating a toxic environment for women in online gaming circles. That being said, there are efforts underway, such as creating collaborative and less violent video games to bridge the gender gap and open the virtual door on eSports to all Jacob bear KPBS news.
An already thriving esports team got a recent upgrade at Hoover High School, not in a video game — but in real life.
The club has a brand new space on campus dedicated to competitive gaming, and it's fully stocked with high-end computers, gaming chairs, headphones and a lot more.
“I’d say the most popular game that's going on right now, at least in esports, is still Rocket League, Super Smash Bros and Valorant,” Hoover High School senior and esports club captain Henry Hoang said.
He said the new room is a huge improvement from before and he’s grateful for the upgrade.
“I remember I first joined the esports club here at Hoover in my sophomore year. We kind of had a little underground, dungeon area. We’d usually play on the school computers. We never had the luxury of trying to build one,” Hoang said, smiling at his new state-of-the-art setup.
With every sports team, there is a coach. For Hoover High’s Esports Club, it’s Jack Wetzel, who also runs the robotics club and teaches both math and computer science at the school. He’s been in charge of the program since 2016.
“I think esports is just any digital sport, ranging from chess, to these competitive first-person shooters,” Wetzel said. “But if I was gonna say what it is here at Hoover, it's a community. It's about students having a safe place where they have like-minded people to collaborate and be friends with.”
Hoang said esports provide him an escape from real-world difficulties while spending time with his friends, which has been more challenging since the pandemic.
“I didn't really have anyone to talk to. So I’d always play games and have social interactions on there,” he said.
Hoover High is just one example of the blossoming esports scene in San Diego.
San Diego State University is about to launch a new certificate program called Business of Esports, which is open to people of all ages. Newton Lee will be one of the professors.
He sees esports in line with social media platforms, but said they offer competition for all, and are more inclusive than traditional sports.
“It doesn't matter if you are black or white, or a kid or an old man, old woman, high IQ, low IQ, physically disabled or physically strong: they all can compete in the same game,” Lee said. “To me that is truly amazing. You cannot see that in any physical sport.”
Wetzel said the new room is just the dawn of the esports push in the county. His team already has competitions set up with other schools from around the area, and he plans to try to make esports a lettering sport for their district.
“High School Esports League is the national organization that's helping gather everybody together. And there are the ones that actually host those games,” he said. “Colleges are looking on those websites to see which teams are scoring the highest, which ones are doing well through their competitions. And on top of that, there's actually scholarships from High School Esports League.”
Anh Li is a junior at Hoover High and another member of the school’s esports club.
He’s dabbled in high-level esports tournaments and says there’s a wide variety of games offered through the high school league, some of which offer a more affordable pathway to college or even professional leagues.
“I am really passionate about video games, and just being able to have a job or a profession around it would be a great honor. For colleges, I would say UCSD or SDSU are my top choices right now,” Li said.
Professor Lee said the future of esports is very bright. In fact, he sees the new SDSU esports program, and other similar educational offerings, as a gateway into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
“It makes them, especially high school students, more curious about: ‘Wow, maybe I’m not going to be a professional gamer, but I can design new hardware.’ Or ‘I’m really good at art, I can do animation.’ So that's something they would not have thought of if there were no esports,” he said.
The esports industry could be trending in the direction of more physically active games for competition, according to Lee. That means players would have to use their bodies to jump, crawl or otherwise move around while immersed in augmented or virtual reality.
For now, Hoover High’s Anh Li is grateful to have the opportunity he does in the present.
“I feel like esports is a passion … and a way to escape from all the other aspects in life, like school or personal problems,” Li said. “So I recommend anyone to join esports.”
Professor Lee said one of the biggest challenges for the esports industry at the moment is the need to introduce more girls and women.
He said it will be a difficult problem to overcome due to a number of online players creating a toxic environment for females in gaming circles; but there’s hope.
Efforts like creating more collaborative and less violent video games are underway with the goal of driving more women to the competitive gaming community and bridging the gender gap in esports, opening the virtual door to all.