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Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Photo by Arden Terry

Irving—The Irving Parks and Recreation Department held their fifth and final E-Gaming Lock In event of the summer. The event took place at the Lively Pointe Youth Center on Saturday, Aug. 21.

The gamers were able to play free-play (play games without competing) video games on Xboxes, PlayStations, and Nintendo Switches. Kids also participated in a ‘Mario Kart’tournament and a ‘Super Smash Bros.’ tournament.

The events were created by senior recreation specialists Sylvester Brown and Thomas Anich.

“This is the end of a series of lock-ins over the course of the summer,” Anich said. “We’ve done it with the other recreation centers, and we’re finishing up at the teen center for our big final event. The parents drop off the students, and in away, there is no coming and going.We keep the students here. They have a chance to do some free-play, then we put together the big tournament at the end.”

“We offer free-play at the beginning, and at the end toward the middle, we offer a tournament,” Brown said. “We are going to crown our summer e-sports tournament champion of ‘Mario Kart’ and ‘Smash Bros.’”

Using the Nintendo Switch online play program, kids in different recreation centers competed in tournaments against one another throughout the summer.

“The pandemic started the focus on this, because [gaming] is something you can do safely,” Brown said. “You can spread out, and you can socially distance. During the pandemic, we had a pop-up series of gaming tournaments similar to this but outside. E-sports has given us an opportunity to keep Parks and Recreation engaged with the community. We were able to provide great programming within our COVID guidelines.”

“We’re continually trying to find ways to reach our teens or youth,” Anich said. “We think this is a great platform to start from and hope to expand it in the future. E-sports is something we are going to continue to pursue in the future, and we thought this was a good way to introduce that. It’s really popular in other cities, and we’re trying to build that for our Irving students.”

“We’ve had positive feedback,” Brown said. “We’ve had over or close to over 100 kids, probably more than that totaled over the summer who have participated. The feedback we’ve received from both parents and kids is phenomenal.

“How often do kids come into the rec center and play the new latest and greatest video games? I think with the trend of video games it’s so expensive to get your foot into the door, and with us breaking that barrier and allowing kids to come in and play for free and playing the new games they see on TV, it’s been a phenomenal response from both the kids and the parents.”

Dylan Good served as a chaperone for the kids, and he played some games while he supervised.

“It’s not about the games,” Good said. “It’s about meeting new people.It’s about coming into the community and saying,‘Hey, what’s your name?’ or ‘Hey, where do you go to school?’ stuff like that. We’ve seen multiple kids come in, and they’ve made new friends.

“We should really try to [keep this program going], because it’s really intriguing to kids this age, because that’s mainly what they want to do in life. When they’re in their teenage years, they want to play video games.”

Jael Vazquez is a mother of a teen participating in the event.

“My son is having a blast,” Vasquez said. “He loves video games.

“[The event] gets them out of the house. They need these interactions.”