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City of Denton esports lounge plans classes, competitions

Dillon Young plays Rocket League in Denton's gaming lounge on July 21, 2023.
John Anderson
Dillon Young plays Rocket League in Denton's gaming lounge on July 21, 2023.

The city of Denton is preparing to level up its new gaming lounge this fall with a slate of esports classes, leagues and tournaments.

The lounge opened in the Denia Recreation Center in early June and features 10 gaming computers and Xbox controllers. A Nintendo Switch and several docking stations will soon be added for players to bring their own equipment.

Parks and Recreation athletics manager Jason Barrow said esports are a good way for kids to socialize if they are not interested in traditional sports.

“It's just about finding different opportunities for different kids at varying interests to be able to have those social opportunities,” Barrow said. “And I think that's where athletics gets involved. In the athletics division, you think of all those other mainstream sports that we do, but this is becoming more mainstream and it's an opportunity to reach a wider audience.”

Esports have reportedly brought in millions of views from streaming websites in 2023 with tournament prize pools as high as $24 million. They have also aired on stations like Fox Sports and ESPN.

DFW Esports and Esports Design Group co-founder Adam Aberbach said Denton is helping lead the way in a growing industry. A number of growing cities and schools are embracing esports, he said.

"It can be a very social opportunity for those who are not, most people are not in sports, but they are into this," he said. "They now have an outlet to do so.”

Aberbach and his group have previously worked with Carrollton and Frisco. Now, they are helping plan Denton’s event schedule, including new Youth Esports 101 classes, where kids can learn to play popular games over four or five sessions.

One of the planned classes will be a four-week session on Rocket League.

Classes and tournaments for games with higher age ratings like Valorant will be geared towards a teenage and older audience.

Computers in the lounge have user profiles that can be set up prior to coming in so that kids can only access age-appropriate games.

The city also wants to create esports leagues once participation is high enough. Once the leagues are formed, the city will be able to compete against other cities with gaming lounges.

Parks and Recreation employee and University of North Texas sport management student Dillon Young was playing Rocket League in the lounge recently and said some people underestimate how serious leagues can be.

“They have practices just like a regular athlete,” Young said. “They have game days where you got to lock in and get ready for your game and they have coaches, so they work a lot like traditional sports teams do.”

The lounge has four tournaments in its fall schedule:

  • Super Smash Bros on Sept. 9 
  • Valorant on Oct. 7  
  • Rocket League 2v2 on Nov. 4 
  • Overwatch on Dec. 2  

A full schedule will be published in Denton’s fall play guide.

Subscriptions to use the esports lab start at $5 for an hour or $20 for a month.