August 2, 2019
Competitive video gaming made a sensational debut as an exhibition sport at the JCC Maccabi Games in Atlanta this week. Lost Tribe Esports transformed a lecture hall at the Games’ Marist School location into a large-scale esports center, offering free gaming for athletes throughout the week, and running tournaments on Thursday for several dozen teens no longer in the medal hunt in their respective sport.
Our 21-station esports center was filled to capacity within minutes of opening our doors Monday morning, and remained so for the 23 hours of gaming we provided over four days. Nearly a third of the girls at the Games in Atlanta and over half the boys gamed with us. Their enthusiasm highlighted for staff and lay leaders from JCCs around the world that gaming plays a central role in the lives of young people today — it’s how they enjoy time with their peers, and is a path to making new friends.
Adult stakeholders were amazed by the energy and constant chatter of the gamers in our esports center. VIPs witnessed teens asking peers they’d never met if they could jump in on a game — then exchanging names and handshakes after bonding over gaming.
“I met some kids from Mexico at Lost Tribe and now I have friends who live in a completely different country. We connect online and we play video games together and it’s just great,” said Matan, age 14, a JCC Maccabi athlete and avid gamer.
We will continue making history — and facilitating new Jewish friendships — at the JCC Maccabi Games & ArtsFest in Detroit next week.