Coming soon: HV Gamer Con 2019

March 11, 2019 07:06 PM

ALBANY - In less than three weeks, a sports competition gets underway in downtown Albany that might just change the landscape of intercollegiate athletics across the country. The HV Gamer Con 2019 arrives at the Albany Capital Center the last weekend in March.

There seems to be no question about it, e-sports is changing the landscape of American culture: first in family rooms, then college dorm rooms; and now into roomy convention centers across the country.


The weekend of March 30-31 will be two days of edge-of-your-seat gaming competition, two days of e-sport athletes from 18 colleges competing, while thousands of screaming fans shake and rattle the Albany Capital Center to its rafters.

"When you think of e-sports, a lot of people tend to think of a kid in the basement by themselves," said Dan Coonan, president and CEO of the Eastern College Athletic Association, "They're involved in a team, doing teamwork, building camaraderie, and it's instant friendships in the first week of school."

Those friendships -- college admissions officials hope, will blossom and then gel into successful gamer teams that can be marketed so that scholarship money can be dangled in front of high school students so that they can be lured to college campuses and be trained to become e-sport collegiate athletes.

"Primarily, we need students that are in the STEM area and they want to come to our campuses and this allows us to attract a certain group," says Rich Ensor, Commissioner of the MAAC Athletic Conference.

While area colleges search for student gamers, gaming companies (there are more than 20 of them in the Capital Region) have high hopes of recruiting STEM talent into their development facilities.

"One of the things we really believe in is it’s accessible to all, so even if you don't connect with a particular sport, or can't physically play a traditional sport, you can play e-sports," says Danny Harvith, director of Business Development for N3rd Street Gamers.

Ensor says as the collegiate sport grows and spreads to more and more campuses, he'd like to see certain things remain just the way they are.

"I'm not sure we need the NCAA to provide that structure," Ensor said. "I think you'll see an independent system of collegiate championships develop. You'll have conferences running it like we are and then they'll feed into the different national championships.

Speaking of championships, the same weekend gamers will be competing at the Albany Capital Center, the NCAA women will be competing at the East Regionals next door at the Times Union Center.


Dan Levy

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