Gaming space brings sense of community, cooperation to burgeoning eSports

The budding electronic sports community has taken another step forward this month, with the launch of Ottawa’s first dedicated competitive gaming space, with some involvement by a former University of Ottawa students. Based in Nepean, Click eSports is aiming to create a space where gamers of all skill levels can gather to discuss, watch, and play the world’s most popular competitive video games.

The first of its kind in the region, Click is only a small part of the broader movement to bring professional gaming into the mainstream. Although eSports have been a prominent part of pop culture in Korea since the late 1990s, they have only recently gained significant traction in North America. Click’s opening two weeks ago was the culmination of months of work by a small group of dedicated community members and gamers, including several University of Ottawa alumni.

Hui Shen, one of Click’s cofounders and managers, and a U of O alum, explained that the centre provides a sense of community that modern internet gaming has taken away from consumers. Although gaming started off as a social activity in arcades and basements, as connection speeds and home computer technology improved, people gradually moved into their homes and online. Now, eSports lounges across the world are bringing people together in an effort to revive that face-to-face interaction.   

The main attraction is undoubtedly the banks of high-end gaming hardware, ranging from PCs to modern consoles. Click’s charm, however, is not just in its computers, but in its lounge areas, featuring space to discuss and watch competitive gaming over bubble tea from the small onsite bar.

Shen explained that Click was never intended as just a place to rent out hardware, stating that several hardcore gamers likely have comparable equipment at home. The sense of community has always been the main draw of gaming lounges, and everything from the room to the payment model reflects that. Its open concept environment promotes discussion and coordination while the business model encourages memberships over piecemeal purchases. This encourages players to return frequently and build a more consistent and personal community.

Click isn’t the only evidence of the growing prominence of eSports in Canadian culture. Shen explained that Canada has traditionally been behind the curve for eSports adoption, but recent progress has been rapid and significant. The U of O now boasts its own competitive gaming teams in both Overwatch and League of Legends, matching a similar trend at Carleton University.

Click eSports is open seven days a week at 1665 Merivale Rd in Nepean. Memberships start at a one-time fee of $10. More information can be found on their website.