Online and competitive gaming has become increasingly popular with the success of games like “League of Legends,” “Pokémon Go,” “Fortnite” and “Overwatch,” and people in Memphis have formed communities to play and discuss video games.
Aaron Chakra is a former University of Memphis student and the founder of the Memphis ESports and Gaming Association. ESports are a competition between players or teams using video games. The purpose of the club is to expose people to eSports and to give people a place where they can play, practice and compete.
“I’m a strong believer that you can get better at games if you play with other people that are better than you,” Chakra said. “Instead of being competitors, if you’re teammates, it helps you get better at the game.”
Chakra said he started the club when he saw gamers get together on campus.
“I noticed there were a lot of ‘League of Legends’ players at the University of Memphis who hung out in the Alumni Lounge, and we would congregate and play,” Chakra said. “I said, ‘Hey, what if we actually organized tournaments, and we could compete against other schools online?”
The club has since added more eSports games like “Overwatch” and “Counter-strike: Global Offensive.” Chakra said he helped organize two “League of Legends” competitions between players from the U of M and other schools.
“League of Legends” players from the U of M competed against players from East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University and Ole Miss in 2014. In 2017, players from the U of M competed against players from Rhodes College, Christian Brothers University and Ole Miss.
Chakra is currently a consultant for MEGA, and he has co-founded an organization called Tournament of Winners, which organizes gaming events in the city of Memphis and the Mid-South.
The game “Pokémon Go” also has its own community in Memphis. A Facebook group named “Pokémon Go: Memphis League” is for players to share information and news about the game, organize events and meet other players.
Nitia Cheveallier, one of the admins of the group, said it is her job as to make sure members follow the group’s rules and to maintain a positive atmosphere.
“We try to make the ‘Pokémon Go: Memphis League’ Facebook group a springboard in attempts to connect all the different groups of players together, no matter what form of communication they choose to use for their Pokémon hunts,” Cheveallier said.
Cheveallier said the group was a friendly place for players to communicate, and the players are the ones who are keeping the community alive and thriving.
Noah Cathion, a U of M sophomore and member of the Facebook group, said he joined the group after one of his friends convinced him to start playing “Pokémon Go” again. Cathion said he also plays “Overwatch” and “Fortnite” regularly with his friends, and he sometimes plays competitively.
“I feel like it (the gaming community in Memphis) has room to grow,” Cathion said. “There’s a lot of potential in the gaming community here, and I’m sure over the next few years, we’ll see a big increase of people openly expressing their passion in gaming.”