ESPORTS STADIUM ARLINGTON
During middle school, I spent an inordinate amount of time (roughly two years, aka the length of most middle schools) trying to convince my friends that gaming is, in fact, a sport. While they scurried off to “shoot hoops” and “exercise,” I trekked home to play Call of Duty, Halo and even the occasional sports video game.
As you may imagine, the recent Esports trend has me feeling a little bittersweet. It’s nice to be validated, but sometimes I can still hear the churlish mocking of endless eighth graders. Fortunately for those now in middle school, times have changed, and gaming is no longer the cause of laughter and taunting. As I walked into Arlington’s Esports Stadium, I found plenty of eighth graders (and older folks, like myself), battling it out on screens. Fortunately, I was able to join in the fun at the Gaming Center. I rented a controller, and settled in to enjoy my favorite kind of sport.
Within moments of walking in to the Stadium, I was welcomed by dozens of gamers just like me — veteran Esporters and newbies in the field hoping to play a few games and have a great time. The Gaming Center is open until 2 AM daily, and even on a late Saturday night, it was filled with gamers of all ages.
I fell somewhere in the middle of these groups: I played video games regularly in high school, but must admit I’m a bit rusty. For example, I’ve never heard of Overwatch, and until I set foot in the Stadium, I thought Fortnite was a dance. But then the heavens opened and the video game gods shone down upon me: The game of choice that day was none other than Call of Duty. The Stadium hosts at least three tournaments or player royale events each week, allowing gamers from across DFW and beyond to join forces in collaboration or competition and show off their gaming skills.
Thus, eager to prove myself and show up the middle school haters once and for all, I joined dozens of other players at one of the Stadium’s 50-plus play stations and prepared to go to war. Within the first few seconds, one thing became clear: I suck at ESports. Woefully overmatched by gamers young and old, I watched as I died again. And again. And again.
As I watched 12-year-olds and 30-year-olds alike repeatedly best me, I realized that it didn’t matter if I was terrible. What mattered was the friendships being forged and the fun being had by dozens and dozens of Esports who were enjoying what was once a niche hobby. ESports is in, and Arlington is the place to be — even at 1 AM.