One of the world's fastest-growing sports involves a keyboard or a controller. The city of Aurora has made esports accessible to every kid who wants to get in the game.
The Esports Hub, located inside Expo Recreation Center at Exposition Park, provides a safe space for video game fanatics to connect and compete. The hub features 10 gaming computers, six consoles and space for up to 22 gamers and spectators.
From communication skills to problem solving to teamwork, kids like Amari and Noah get the benefits of traditional sports while sitting down. The friends played side by side at the hub after school on Friday.
"I have an Xbox at home, but I like to come here and play so I can see my friends," said Noah.
"My mom likes when I come here to play because she works from home and she says she can get more done," laughed Amari.
Paul Smith, supervisor for facility programming, says the hub idea came about during the pandemic. The city hopes to grow the program and benefit more local kids.
"A lot of kids don't have the opportunities to have these types of things. A lot of them don't have consoles or maybe the latest games. This space provides a place for them to come and experience the best of the best," said Smith.
Last year, esportswithin the Colorado High School Activities Association. Over 100 schools around Colorado participate in esports, opening new doors for gamer-student athletes.
"Kids can practice here and gain experience. One day they can play at the high school level and compete as a real sport. And then there's colleges all across the country that are giving scholarships," said Smith.
He says the gaming hub is an inclusive space for kids who don't play traditional sports due to limitations like certain disabilities. Children are always supervised by staff, and for some, the staff have become their mentors.
"We're able to provide a safe place for them to either after school, or in the evenings or the weekends. And they're able to do something positive," said Smith. "This is an opportunity for them to have community, build relationships, and camaraderie through a team sport."
Registration for fall hours is now open for paid/pre-registered drop-in play for ages 11 and up, Monday and Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Fridays 2:30p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon-6 p.m. Friday drop-in play is free but participants still need to pre-register to secure a timeslot to play.
For more info visit auroragov.org.
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