Over the last few years, video game events have started getting more and more popular in youth community organizations like the YMCA, which used to be dominated by traditional sports. All over the country, YMCAs and similar organizations have been hosting video game and esports events, and with large social gatherings more complicated than ever, it might be time for some of these events to move online.
As community and youth organizations adjust to social distancing and now have to organize events in a post-COVID-19 world, online events are likely to become even more important. While they won’t replace traditional sports or in-person meetings, they do provide a way for groups to get together for activities and competitions when they can’t meet in person. The only real difficulty of online events is organizing them.
Organizers have to gather player information — like in-game names — as well as organize teams and create tournament brackets. And that’s before problems like broadcasting and streaming the games come into play.
According to Boom CEO Sumit Gupta, who recently spoke to Polygon on a phone interview, all these problems are exactly where his company is trying to help. “[Boom] has been built from the ground up for that purpose,” Gupta said. And it’s not just organizing. The company seeks to facilitate professional broadcasts, as well.
These tools could be used by more than just community groups, opening up online tournaments to high schools and colleges that don’t have the experience of managing these events.
Boom.tv comes from the founders of the Code Red esports tournament, which started in 2018. Code Red now hosts tournaments with some of the biggest streamers like Ninja and DrDisrespect, in games like Call of Duty: Warzone — though Valorant tournaments may be on the way soon, according to Gupta. During these massive events, smaller organizations took interest in the tools the company was using to host the tournaments. After months of Code Red organizing, the company created Boom.tv with the goal of making esports tournaments more accessible and easy for anyone to organize. On Tuesday, Boom announced additional funding to help further develop and promote its tools for organizing community esports tournaments.
The site’s tools, will attempt to make the complicated parts of tournament organization easier, and the new funding will help Boom cater to smaller organizers that don’t need, or want the complexities of larger tournaments. Players would input their in-game names on the platform, which would organize them into the correct teams. Then it would spit out a bracket and match-ups. After each match, teams would input the results and the bracket would update.
While players could do many of these steps themselves on other sites, Boom gives the organizers an easy way to follow the event, and make sure everything stays fair. More importantly for youth organizations, it also gives parents an easy way to follow their kids’ matches. This can help make it more clear that the kids are participating in a big group event, rather than just playing games alone in their room.
Gabriel del Rio, the public relations representative for Boom, even mentioned how parents might engage with a YMCA tournament. “Each team gets a ‘primetime’ matchup on a rotational schedule,” Gabriel said. “Using Boom, the YMCA broadcasts that ‘primetime’ match and all the other teams, plus parents, family, and friends, watch along.” With these kinds of scheduled and highlighted matches, each team could get a chance in the spotlight and parents would know exactly when to tune in.
It may still be a while before esports becomes the same kind of after-school activity that traditional sports are now. But with sites like Boom making online tournaments and events easier to organize and easier to watch, it might not be long before parents are just as comfortable with their kids playing video games socially as they are with basketball at the local gym.