ESports League welcomes young gamers in Arden

The new home of the Blue Ridge Bears opens
A ribbon cutting, cheering and gaming made for a busy Saturday in Arden as a family opened up a new eSports space for young gamers
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 8:43 PM EDT
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ARDEN, N.C. (FOX Carolina) - A ribbon cutting, cheering and gaming made for a busy Saturday in Arden as co-owners Cheryl and Mark Chambers opened up a new eSports space for their Blue Ridge Bears teams.

What started as Mark making an eSports Google search six months ago has turned into an 18-computer space with a dozen gamers signed up.

“It’s just a dream of me and my dad’s, and our family,” their 12-year-old son Andrew Chambers said. “We (his family) played a lot of video games and did a lot of things, and it was cool to realize all of us liked the same thing. Mom wasn’t the best, but she always loved playing with us and making us happy.”

Even though Mom might not be the best at gaming, she understands the impact it can have. In a “counterintuitive way,” she said she saw this as a way to help parents control their kids’ screen time. That’s because before one hour turns into half the day, they’ve decided their practices and matches will be limited to one hour apiece.

“The business helps us put boundaries around our kids and other kids,” Cheryl Chambers said. “It’s like putting a fence around the video gaming playground.”

The Chambers’ virtual playground welcomes kids between 7-17 years old and has three different membership plans depending on how many gaming sessions you want per week.

Cheryl said gaming in a group setting like theirs is much more social than gaming alone at home. She also said that as an XP League franchise, they adhere to a life-lesson-driven code of conduct.

“Teaching lessons using the video games,” Cheryl said. “Using encouraging words and only lifting each other up. How to manage your emotions when you get disappointed and frustrated that you lost or that this bad thing happened.”

Andrew said he’s been learning from the gaming aspect and the work he personally put into getting his parents’ space prepared for day one.

“Me and my dad were in here at night just setting up the computers,” Andrew said. “I was the one who put the mouse and keyboard out, unboxed everything and put the headset stands up and headsets. It was cool to see, not only my family, but my friends and everyone coming together to help us set up and get ready. Hard work pays off, and if you work hard, it’ll pay out in the end.”

The Chambers have also brought in coaches to provide instruction for the game itself and how to handle any ups and downs that stem from it.

Andrew said you can join Blue Ridge Bears teams for the games Fortnite, Apex Legends, Rocket League, Valorant and Minecraft. Cheryl said they’re offering gaming session times on weeknights and Saturdays.

“What’s happening here on a Monday evening would probably feel a little bit more like baseball practice,” Cheryl said. “Like a rec league but for video games instead of soccer.”

As far as future plans, Andrew hopes to host tournaments eventually, and Cheryl wants to get involved with the local districts’ after-school programs.

Just before her family cut the ribbon to let the gaming begin, she explained what this day meant for her.

“It’s a really exciting day,” Cheryl said. “In some ways, it feels like the culmination of all this preparation leads to this day, but also this day launches us from here forward.”