TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The COVID-19 outbreak has halted just about every aspect of the sports industry, with one notable exception—esports. News 10 spoke with some experts on why gaming and esports may be a rare source of community for people during a global pandemic.
News 10 spoke Co-Founder of the Indiana High School Esports Network John Robertson and owner of Ebash in Terre Haute Zach Johnson. They say, yes, the Coronavirus has certainly made them have to adapt the way they do things.
However, one good thing coming from it is the spike in popularity of esports and how this pandemic could actually be a good thing for the future of their industry.
Robertson says that when schools shut down, it put them at a temporary halt. This is because most kids were playing from systems at the schools. Johnson agreed. He says Ebash used to have 90-100 kids at their store every Friday night to play online.
Both men say, however, they can still press on.
You may have noticed Esports being nationally televised in recent weeks. Johnson says the audience for these games has expanded. It’s the only sports on right now and people want to watch and get involved.
Both men say this pandemic is raising the interest of their industry moving forward.
“I think we’re going to see that hybrid of doing these fun activities and including people from home and in-person and blend those things together,” Johnson said.
“They want sports. They want competition and this is one of the few things that’s still able to go on,” Robertson agreed, “So the people that weren’t in the scene before are kind of paying attention more than they were. I think that’s been a good thing.”
Johnson says this pandemic has created an opportunity. He let News 10 in on something Ebash has brewing to keep the Wabash Valley together through esports.
Johnson says if the objective is to gather players to play these esports games together in person, they can absolutely do it now virtually. That’s why Ebash in Terre Haute is recreating what they provide for the Wabash Valley community.
Johnson says they will soon be able to include those playing at home and connect everyone through their Ebash location. His goal is to have the same fun, exciting, and competitive environment they used to have every weekend.
He says esports has created an opportunity during this pandemic—especially for kids.
“How about being able to get together with a West Vigo kid, a Terre Haute North kid, a South kid and a Northview kid. This is an opportunity to gather our community together around something like esports,” Johnson explained, “Same thing as sports has always given but right now, we can’t play sports. It’s, I think, going to give kids that interaction that they’re missing.”
There’s no question esports has gained popularity during this time of staying at home. Now it just might shed some light and bring our community closer together.