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Gamers will delight in YMCA’s partnership with Metro Esports

“We’re meeting kids where they are,” said Shaon Berry, Metro founder

https://buckscountyherald.com/stories/gamers-will-delight-in-doylestown-ymcas-partnership-with-metro-esports,20393

Posted Thursday, October 13, 2022 12:06 am

By Freda R. Savana

Walking into the Metro Esports Game Lounge at the Doylestown branch of the Bucks County YMCA is a jolt to the senses.

The darkened room is lined with gaming stations illuminated by the glow of dozens of computer screens and their gleaming towers that shimmer pink, green and purple. A rich blue light cascades down the walls. A huge screen dominates the front of the room.

This some 1,300-square-foot space is designed to offer people of all ages a safe place to develop and improve their gaming skills, join tournaments, create videos and podcasts and more, said Shaon Berry, the founder of Metro Esports, during a recent interview.

“We are super excited to partner with the Y with innovate ways of reaching young people,” Berry said. “Sports have changed. Recreation has changed. This is a really unique way to inspire (youth).”

And, while playing video games such as the wildly popular Fortnite and Minecraft may not seem like a natural fit for an organization many associate with swimming, yoga and exercise equipment, it’s a great partnership, said Trish Feinthel, Chief Operating Officer for the Bucks and Hunterdon County YMCAs.

“Our mission is to foster youth development, healthy relationships and social responsibility,” said Feinthel. “The game lounge is “unique and special … it’s hard to know where Esports ends and the Y begins. It promotes relationships and healthy living.”

Teens, said Barry, “might play video games for a couple of hours, then go workout.”

YMCA’s across the country see a drop-off in children’s participation at age 7, noted the COO. As they get older, more of their activities are centered around school programs, she said. The gaming lounge offers summer activities, a league program and weekly classes for members and the larger community. While it’s currently only available at the Doylestown branch, Feinthel said, she hopes to add gaming lounges at other Bucks and Hunterdon County branches.

Barry, a former football player, said, “There are massive communities of people who aren’t into sports or athletics. “We’re meeting kids where they are.”

Metro Esports is “intentional about inclusivity,” said Barry. “You don’t have to think about things that differentiate you.”

The gaming lounge is supervised by trained staff who ensure the space is safe and can also help gamers “manage their experience,” said Zach Archer, Metro’s director of events.

Each computer is equipped with software that supervises, monitors and protects any online chats, said Archer. “It provides us with reports and provides the safest space possible.”

Besides the large gaming area that features state-of-the-art tournament gaming PCs, there are also two console game areas with Xbox and Playstation equipment. There’s a content production space, too, where guests can create and edit videos and podcasts. The area, which also has an Adobe creative suite, is available to rent as well.

Also being explored is VR (virtual reality) for seniors where games such as golf and tennis can be played in “a safe, virtual environment.”

“Think of it as a digital stadium,” said Barry, of the Esports lounge.

Information on prices and membership can be found at ymcabucks.org. or call 215-999-9622.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

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