Sixty kids filled a Long Island movie theater to play the immensely popular videogame Minecraft projected on the big screen in a sort of Little League intramural for gamers on July 8.
The event at Regal Deer Park Stadium 16 was the first-ever stop on LI for so-called Super League Gaming (SLG), a new venture currently on a 25-city nationwide tour to give young gamers a chance to meet fellow Minecraft fanatics, experience how pro gamers play and get them out of the house.
“As a parent, I think I was excited more than they were because they’re usually in their rooms alone playing for hours,” said Sandra, the mother of one of the gamers. “This gives them the opportunity to play together and talk with other kids and just the whole big screen concept is awesome!”
SLG is the world’s first in-theater video game league, partnering with movie theater chains such as AMC, Cinemark and Regal. With eSports’ rising popularity, SLG gives a chance for young gamers at movie theaters nationwide to experience the equivalent of an intermural league, just like any other sport.
Each child, 7-14 years old, plays on their own laptops, as Minecraft’s world is displayed on the theater screen in all of its entirety, providing a third-person view. Parents, who were able to watch for free, looked delighted as they witnessed their children doing what makes them happy in a safe and sociable setting.
“With my kids, I realized the things that they love about a team: comradery, the social aspect, competing and just going out and doing it,” said Brett Morris, president and chief operating officer of SLG. “As a gamer, they never had that opportunity. They were in their room maybe chatting with their friends online, but there wasn’t that physical space where you could actually go to.”
People who never enjoyed physical sports growing up often missed out on the experience of being on a team. But now, SLG fills that void while playing Competitive Gaming. SLG is typically held after school and runs for one hour and 40 minutes.
“It’s actually amazing that no one has conquered that space yet when there’s 100 million gamers across the planet, but no place for these kids to have that sense of belonging,” said Morris. “It’s like the Little League concept where the kids are wearing a jersey, hat and belong to a team and they know where to go every single week and they practice and play with their teammates. And that didn’t exist in gaming, until Super League Gaming.”
When Sandra’s son was asked what he thought of the event he replied: “I really liked it, I made friends and I’ll be coming back!”
Super League Gaming returns to LI on Sept. 14 for the launch of the official inaugural season, which includes six consecutive weeks of gaming where players attend the same theater on the same day, each of those weeks. The cost is $20 per ticket and adults can watch for free. Pre-registration is required, at Superleague.com