When you combine esports and traditional sports, you reach a new level of gaming that provides the best of technology and physicality. Today a new VR esports league that caters specifically to high school students launches in North America with three of the most popular titles in virtual reality. The High School VR League provides students an opportunity to participate in immersive competitions that test their stamina, coordination, accuracy, and more.
VR esports encourage teens to develop skills in leadership, decision-making, and teamwork. They also prepare young adults for life beyond high school as commitment, punctuality, and responsibility are necessary to be part of a team or participate in a league.
“The High School VR League strives to cultivate the best of all our players through the crucible of competition and teamwork,” states Tyeron Hammontree, founder of the High School VR League. “Participating in the league will prepare our players to be fierce opponents and invaluable contributors to their communities on and offline.”
Hammontree, a teacher at the Cedars International Next Gen High School in Austin, TX, began introducing his students to virtual gaming in 2009. People were becoming increasingly familiar with esports, teams were popping up in schools, and prize pools for leagues were increasing.
Although VR was pretty much only promoted by people who had a big vision of the future possibilities, Hammontree and others were patient. Finally in 2015 he was able to introduce his students to the DK2, a developer kit from Oculus, a company that was started by Palmer Luckey, an 18-year-old with some serious passion and determination.
After the first commercial headsets were released in 2016, Hammontree began introducing his students to virtual gaming and other experiences such as educational tours, training, etc. Students from other area schools were also invited to try the technology.
Now the High School VR League is going national and has the support of several key organizations in the industry, including the Collegiate VR Esports League, VR Community Builders, and the Museum of Future Sports. There are also discussions taking place with sponsors regarding potential prize pools and with investors who are interested in the high school VR ecosystem overall.
The High School VR League Season One will feature three fast games that take full advantage of the immersive environment of virtual reality. While people can play these games at beginner levels and have a nice workout, when you play competitively, even students who are accustomed to traditional sports such as basketball or soccer say the workout from these games is intense.
Each of the following games is compatible with the standalone Oculus Quest, an affordable headset that provides a top-rated immersive experience without an expensive gaming computer. Features such as portability, affordability, and access to the best games on the market have made the Quest headset a top choice for educational environments.
Echo Arena from Ready At Dawn is the ultimate VR esport. The game requires a lot of physical movement as players duck, dodge, and jump as they carry or pass a disc through a virtual arena in zero-gravity. Echo Arena has been featured in numerous leagues and is one of the most widely recognized titles in virtual reality.
Echo Arena players will compete in the High School VR League on teams of four. While skills such as throwing accuracy, coordinating speed boosts, and using stuns strategically are important, communication and teamwork are essential keys to success in this game.
Beat Saber was released from Beat Games in May 2018 and within the first year sold over a million copies. The VR rhythm game wasn’t really designed with VR esports in mind, but trying to achieve top scores and surpass your friends and everyone else in the world has become a phenomenon of its own. Players memorize block patterns, try to achieve increased accuracy, and train themselves to lesson reaction times as they slice blocks coming at them at what sometimes seems like lightning speeds.
While the game sounds kind of silly when you describe it, over 2 million people who have purchased the game and become addicted to it would disagree. There’s a certain divine pleasure to be obtained when you make it through a song with no mistakes and you climb the leaderboards.
Students will participate in Beat Saber as solo players in competition with others throughout the league.
Rec Room was released in 2016 as a place to hang out with others in virtual worlds. Rec Room Paintball is a popular title that allows for modification so players and league organizers can really design a unique competition. With cartoonish style characters, Rec Room includes paint grenades, paint throwers, paint snipers, and other customizations that make the game unique each time you play.
High School VR League players will participate in Rec Room Paintball on teams of four.
In addition to ranked play in the league, students are encouraged to participate in League Nights. These will begin August 21 and will be held every two weeks on Fridays. These are community-building events where students can try any VR game that interests them. This is a great opportunity to try out new games for possible inclusion in future seasons of the league, to jump into a beta for a yet-unreleased game, or to check out a popular title that isn’t included in the league lineup.
Schools can host league nights as a club activity for their students and of course teens with access to a headset can participate from their own homes.
How to Participate
Any high school student age 13 and over is invited to become part of the community and participate in this exciting new league that’s open to teenage VR enthusiasts in public, private, homeschool, and distance learning environments. Students can sign up as a solo player for Beat Saber or you can register as a team for Echo Arena or Rec Room Paintball.
Social distancing is taken into consideration and there are recommendations on the website for those who will be participating in the league at a physical location. There are also advisors in the community who can help schools, homeschool groups, and others establish a local VR gaming club.
For students who will be participating in VR esports from home, you’re encouraged to take advantage of the High School VR League social media sites to help you find teammates with complimentary playstyles and personalities.
Registration begins today and league competition begins October 2.
Social Media Links
For more information about the High School VR League, please visit their website and get involved with the community on your preferred social media platform!