With advancements in technology, an entirely new world has been created all within a screen. The line between reality and virtual reality is becoming less and less distinct as two worlds collide. Some find comfort in this escape, but as it is human nature to seek engagement with others, the escape is turning into a new opportunity to meet people and thrive in an up-and-coming field. This concept is familiar to Friendswood High School junior Kevin Tran who is the president and a founder of the high school’s eSports League.
Tran has always had a love for video games. He said it has always been an excellent way for him to zone-in to a world where he can be anyone and do anything. Tran said he is typically shy, so video games are a great way for him to take on a different personality. It was not until he visited the Microsoft store in the mall during the Spring of this year that he learned about eSports leagues and the benefits of playing competitively. It was then he and some friends decided to create a club at FHS.
“The workers told us they had competitions every Saturday with all kinds of games, so we decided to form a team with some of our friends,” Tran said. “We played in a tournament together and then it clicked that Coach Blankenship plays, so we asked him to start a club.”
Robert Blankenship, the FHS eSports League sponsor, said he was a little skeptical at first, but quickly realized how the club could be beneficial to the students.
“When they first approached me about starting the league, I knew I needed to learn more about it. I saw the Big12 Commissioner of the Fiesta Bowl held an eSports League championship for colleges and said he was shocked by how many students competed. That’s when I knew it was serious,” Blankenship said. “There are loads of benefits for joining this league. It could be a possible career as it’s projected to be a billion-dollar industry by 2020, and it’s a motivating factor to get kids to go to college and to work toward something.”
The group decided to join a league called High School eSports League based out of Missouri which allows the FHS students to connect with and compete against other students from across the country. Making these connections and feeling excited to come to school is why Tran said he started the group.
“I want to help people here grow,” he said. “I think this organization has allowed people who may not normally socialize at school to meet new friends. One of my players is very quiet, but with this club, she has been able to talk to people she shares common interests with.”
Blankenship has noticed the growth in the students too.
“I’ve noticed in the past few months that we’ve had the club, the students are becoming more social, there’s more of a bond, there’s more of a drive to get to school, they’re more open and happier,” he said. “High school can be very stressful and some of these students would have never talked to each other before, but now they’re talking to each other and releasing their stress in a non-traditional way.”
Blankenship credited Kevin for creating this alternative avenue for his peers.
“Kevin was normally shy in class, so to see how he’s progressed, it is awesome,” Blankenship said. “To see where it started with five to ten people at the first meeting to now having 60 is absolutely credited to Kevin. The kids are enjoying themselves, opening up, learning leadership aspects and learning to speak up in class. I’m really proud of Kevin for what he’s been able to do. He has a great, bright future ahead of him.”