The Woodlands Township Parks and Recreation Department hosted its first esports tournaments in 2020 as a way for people to get together and play even as in-person gatherings remain limited.

From September to December, the department offered monthly tournaments for all ages in its group for the game Rocket League, which averaged around 13 to 14 teams of two each month.

Chris Nunes, The Woodlands Parks and Recreation director, said his department had begun looking into hosting activities such as these for residents at a nominal cost.

“Even before the pandemic, we started looking at socially distanced activities that people can do in their homes,” Nunes said. “We really started seeing this wave of esports being pushed into the parks and recreation field. Soccer and baseball are not for everybody. ... If I can get 20 or 40 kids doing something every month, that is a goal.”

Nunes said he is speaking with other parks and recreation directors around the Gulf Coast region in hopes of putting on a collaborative regional tournament.

He said there are plans in place to continue offering esports tournaments with different games available in the future.

Lone Star College classes

Esports are growing regionally as well: An esports management course will be available to Lone Star College System students this fall at the LSC-Houston North campuses, which include sites in the Fairbanks/Jersey Village and Aldine/Greenspoint areas.

LSC-Houston North President Quentin Wright said the new course is the first of its kind for a community college in the country and that it will teach students the ins and outs of the esports industry.

According to Wright, the process for bringing the program to LSCS came about after he met with U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, who asked that the college look into the field.

“We noticed there is a lot of money in it, and there is a really big market for competitive gaming in the area,” Wright said. “From an event planner or marketer standpoint, we found there is a market for us.”

The new esports management program will be a part of the college’s business courses, and students taking part will learn about various topics, such as sports psychology, e-commerce and intro to game design. The idea of the course, Wright said, will be for students to apply what they learn to a wide variety of fields even if they are not directly related to the esports industry.