Video gamers compete for WHS

Jack+VanHouten+live+streams+as+he+waits+in+the+lobby+of+his+game.

Jack VanHouten

Jack VanHouten live streams as he waits in the lobby of his game.

Molly Ross, Sports editor

While many students at Weston High School play video games for fun, some students have taken their love for gaming to another level by competing in or live streaming their favorite video games. Not only is gaming competitive and a hobby that provided a great escape for many students over the past few years, but it also helps the players advance their skills and make many new online friends.

   One of the benefits of competing in online gaming in addition to advancing one’s skills is the ability to connect with friends.

   “I got into playing games and streaming because I was somewhat of an introvert,” said senior Jack VanHouten, who live-streams his games regularly. “I found that video games were a good outlet to interact with people that I normally wouldn’t during the school day.”

    While many gamers enjoy competing for different reasons, the reasons they first became involved often have to do with the influence of family members, friends, and others.

   “There are lots of streamers and gamers that inspired me to start,” said VanHouten. “When I was younger it was my brother who influenced what games I would play, like Madden, NHL, and NBA 2K. Later, it was Fortnite creators that made me want to play and create content surrounding the game.”

   Similar to VanHouten, senior Christain Monovoukas has discovered different video games that he enjoys in many contrasting ways, and has used that love to start competing and teaching.

   “I first got into video games when my older brother introduced me to Minecraft when I was in elementary school. I have always competed in video games if the game I am playing allows me to,” said Monovoukas. “I started officially gaming competitively during high school after making the Gaming Club.”

    WHS has recently created an eSports team where these students are able to improve as players in a new and competitive environment. 

   “If I enjoy the game I am playing, I have more intrinsic motivation to improve, and with Weston High School’s eSports team, I have more extrinsic motivation to go the extra mile,” said Monovoukas. 

   As students start to compete in these video games more often, on the team and otherwise, some have connected aspects of eSports to playing live sports. 

   “A lot of improvement is made by just putting a lot of time into the game. Like any sport or activity, getting better requires a lot of practice. I must admit though, it helps to have friends helping along the way, especially with team games,” said senior Ethan Wu. “I think that the most important factor to improve on is really just being a good team player in eSports, just like on a real sports team.”

   Many of these students find that improving as a gamer is not only about a player’s personal skills, but it’s also about their competitors and how they can learn from them to get better individually. 

   “Another variable is how skillful the people you’re playing with or against are,” said VanHouten. “The better they are, the better they will make you.”

   As these students continue to compete and stream, some consider it a part of their future, but for senior Jack VanHouten, constantly having to post new streaming videos has added more stress to this “relaxing” hobby.  

   “I used to be set on making something of a career out of playing games and making videos, but dropped it when I realized I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to,” said VanHouten. “I still enjoy making videos, but the pressure of posting and the analytics attached to every post were very stressful to pay attention to every day. It wasn’t very healthy.”

   Some of these students consider using their knowledge and love for video games to help others improve. 

   “I do already enjoy helping others get better, especially with games like Valorant,” said Wu. “If I had to, I guess I wouldn’t mind being a coach or teacher for games of sorts.”

   These students are all connected in the sense that they enjoy the games that are spent with their friends the most. 

   “My favorite games are definitely Valorant, Apex, TF2 and Minecraft,” said Wu. “Although I’ll generally stick to different games and genres, I always enjoy playing with friends since they can always make a game more enjoyable.”