Springfield arcade to offer youth eSports club this summer

A local arcade is hosting a unique youth club this summer aimed at bringing kids together.

Pixel Playground, a console game arcade located at the Upper Valley Mall, will be hosting its first youth eSports club, Pixel Club, this summer. Sign-ups for the club will run through June 30.

eSports, or electronic sports, is a new form of competition that pits professionals against one another in video games, often with large cash prizes for winners.

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Store manager Christopher Hesson said the idea for the club came about because of how popular the genre is to both participate in and watch.

“eSports are really starting to take off in terms of popularity,” he said. “We thought it would be a good idea to give kids here a chance to be part of something like it, but it also falls in to what we already do.”

Hesson said the club not only aims to give kids in the program an idea of what the new age sport is like, but also helps them build interpersonal skills.

“I call kids today part of kind of a ‘lost generation’ because of how disconnected a lot of them can be,” he said. “So rather than talking to someone over a headset, they can sit next to someone with similar interests and connect with them.”

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The games chosen for use in the club, including Epic Games’ “Fortnite,” Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros.” and EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 18,” are meant to teach children how to communicate and work together while having fun, Hesson said.

He said if Pixel Club is successful this summer, there is a chance it could be done again next year or expanded to a seasonal club.

“We would definitely look into that if it were to take off,” Hesson said.

Admission into the club is $25 per child, which also includes a shirt. Sessions will begin on July 5 and take place every other Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. until Sept. 27 with a $5 attendance fee. Children ages 8-16 are allowed to attend and spaces for the initial session are limited.

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