MANHEIM, Pa. — Staying connected with your friends is one of the most important aspects of life as a teenager. Now, thanks to COVID-19, it's one of the hardest.
The Emerald Foundation started their e-sports program before the COVID-19 crisis started. We caught up with them back in February.
Now, they have continued holding their tournaments, completely virtually, as a way to help kids stay connected with their friends and provide an entertainment outlet in an otherwise unprecedented situation.
"People don't realize how it feels when you have a passion for a game to actually interact with other people who have similar interests to you," Samuel Reagan, a high school junior from Houston, TX, said.
Samuel found the Emerald Foundation through chats online and with friends in Texas.
"Everyone in the organization is so nice and considerate," Reagan said. "The best part about it is the friendships I've created."
So far, the foundation has filled up every online tournament they've hosted to capacity--keeping hundreds of students and friends connected. In their latest tournament, students from 14 different states partcipated.
"We're focused right now on just finding ways to keep the students engaged. They're used to going to school every day and seeing their friends," Brianna Titi, E-Sports Communications Coordinator of the Emerald Foundation said. "The internet and E-sports specifically is an excellent way for them to continue that communication. We really just wanted to not take another thing away from them."
But, it's not just about the fun and games. Those participating say gaming in this way can help sharpen your mind.
"E-sports is chess at the speed of light," Titi said. "They're problem solving, working in teams."
"I think it's really good for your cognitive ability," Jackson Westbrook, a junior at Manheim Township High School, said. "You have to keep track of so many different scenarios--your team, enemy, and that just keeps your mind running. It's training your brain a little bit more, the ability to multi-task and process so many things."
But going forward as the crisis continues, those participating are just thankful for the opportunity.
"They're really providing something special for us students and i really appreciate it," Reagan said.
For more information on the Emerald Foundation and how you can participate in their E-Sports program, you can visit their website.