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Inside The Wide World Of Esports In North Texas

Mary Altaffer, File
In this July 28, 2018, file photo, Philadelphia Fusion players compete against the London Spitfire during the Overwatch League Grand Finals at Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

The popularity of video games has skyrocketed in the last decade. People who used to play at home with their friends can now play games — such as Fortnite, Dota 2 and League of Legends — professionally and often at sold-out convention centers. 

OP Live Dallas is one such competition that wrapped up recently in North Texas. Mark Nausha is with Southern Methodist University, a sponsor of the event, and shared his thoughts on the rise of Esports.

Interview Highlights

On what's involved with an Esport

Each league works a little bit differently. For example, when you're having a tournament or an event with [the game] Overwatch, you have to work with [the game's company] Blizzard, and you have to work with a pro team that's local. We had a 16-team university event, and so with that, we had to work with a lot of moving parts. And Blizzard, you have to play within their rules and regulations.

On how OP Live Dallas got started

I run the SMU game lab, under the school SMU Guildhall, which is the No. 1 master's game design program in the world. I do events, speaker series, a multitude of things. I had this idea to have an Esports event in D-FW, and I met another individual at eGency Global, Marcos Suarez, and just started throwing the idea out locally about a year ago.

People were like, "Yeah, how can I get on board? How can I help?" And then we really started to organize and form this thing, and it really just started coming together. But honestly, it was two people's ideas out of their head to build an event that would become an annual event, and then eventually go national. That's basically how we got started.

On security since the Jacksonville shooting

Any large event you have, I don't care if it's gaming or if it's a hockey game or whatever the case may be, I think security always has to be at the forefront. I know for us it was/is. I would say when you walk through our event it's just like going to the Dallas Stars game at American Airlines Center.

"People are able to connect to people they may never even meet face to face."

On how gaming that makes it so popular

I think the biggest thing is the advent of connectivity through the internet. The ability to create social communities and a little bit more user control or fan control of creating those communities. They exist virtually but they have the same similarities as real world communities and I think people are bonding through that. People are able to connect to people they may never even meet face to face.

I've seen connections with individuals through online games and MMO (massively multiplayer online) games where they've actually got married because they played those games. And I just think you see a lot of similarities virtually that you would see in the real world.

Interview responses have been edited for clarity.

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.