Super League Gaming is a recreational gaming league that takes place in a theater. It’s currently touring the country. Recently Super League Gaming came to Seattle to present a three-day Minecraft tournament.
We asked the President of Super League Gaming, Brett Morris, some questions about the program—and what its future holds.
The takeaway? This looks fun. In the Super League Minecraft we attended, the kids mostly sat in groups with their friends. They were talking and strategizing with each other, and some had their parents helping them out. And, of course, they had their drinks and popcorn. Super League sets up a private Minecraft server for the attendees, who each have their own laptop. A top-down view of the map is shown on the theater screen, while the kids play in first-person on their computers.
The sessions last 100 minutes. In the parts that we saw, the kids were challenged to build something in Creative Mode. They were then thrown into Survival Mode where they searched for treasure and battled critters. In between the modes, they had time to run around and look at what other participants had built. Super League has a team that builds custom maps for its sessions.
As the events expand globally, a new map will be used in global weekly tournaments. Players can check the leaderboards to see how they stack up against friends in the same city—or rivals on the other side of the world. These leaderboards are available now on the Super League website. Morris said he wanted to give gamers a sense of community, in the same way that kids who play Little League have something in common.
Starting in the fall, Super League will branch out into its true goal: 6-week sessions, like an athletic sports season. Teams will compete once a week for global high scores. The summer sessions, which are one-off events, are to get people familiar with the technology and the concept of team-gaming in a movie theatre. “People can’t believe it when they actually see it,” Morris told me. “We wanted to go from city to city—we’re in 25 cities and 87 theaters this summer—and just show people.”
Similar to a sports league, the fall sessions will have a $120 sign-up fee. Morris explained that they’re looking into ways to balance that price across the country—people in California, for example, are used to paying steeper fees for kids’ recreation than people in Ohio. But the summer sessions are only $20, and the concept is solid. Considering the length and value of what the fall season represents, I think the pricing makes sense.
At the session I went to, I noticed a diverse spread of genders and ages. It was great to see so many girls—and tween girls at that, who are notoriously hard to impress—playing together. And having fun.
Above all, I think the important thing about Super League is that it legitimizes gaming as a hobby that can foster teamwork and communication. Morris told me that the group of dads who founded Super League have kids that love to play sports, but they love video games just as much.
In the past, kids who loved gaming might have gone to arcades to hang out and do their thing. But arcades are more and more rare. Recreational gaming leagues, like Super League, could be their spiritual successor.