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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Whether you like it or not, video games are going to end up on your TV sooner rather than later. ESPN has invested heavily in e-sports, more and more colleges are giving out scholarships to video game athletes, and famous gamers are becoming mainstream celebrities.
Getting ahead of the curve, last Thursday, Medfield TV held a "Mario Kart" tournament, complete with commentators, prizes, and 26 competitors from the Medfield community, that streamed live on the internet and will later be shown on the cable channel.
While games like “Overwatch”, “Fortnite” and “League of Legends” seem to be the most commonly played games in the professional e-sports world, Medfield TV General Manager Brett Poirier wanted a game that would appeal to the most people. With that in mind, he chose “Mario Kart,” a game that has existed on every console from the Super Nintendo to the Nintendo Switch (on which the tournament took place). This obviously worked, as the tournament attracted competitors from seven years old to individuals in their mid-thirties.
“'Mario Kart' can give me a wide range of people," explained Poirier. "It’s a game I thought reached across the ages.”
But there was another reason Poirier chose the game: he loves it.
“I love 'Mario Kart,' and we have a unique and awesome place here, this building, so we have a way to be able to reach out to kids and have it be a kind of a community center. So that was a big thing, between my love of 'Mario Kart' and our ability to reach out to the community, this was a great partnership between us and the video game tournament company.”
What do you get if you win? Money. Every competitor paid a $25 entrance fee, for a guaranteed two grand prix, or eight competitive games (there were also non-tournament games set up in the back room for kids who were waiting or eliminated from competition). There were custom Medfield TV coins for the top sixteen finishers, medals for the final four, and around one $100 for the grand prize winner.
But really, getting to see your game commentated and put on TV was the real prize. The cameras flipped between the gameplay, the commentators and the players, while the commentators (McLean Conner and Jared Ware) tried to keep up.
This was challenging, as Ware, who has experience commentating traditional sports explained. “Hockey is super-fast," he said, "probably the fastest traditional sport, and this is, like, two times faster. It’s crazy trying to keep up and keep track of what’s going on, while getting the finer points in, but it’s been a lot of fun so far.”
Poirier and the Medfield TV staff were simultaneously covering a meeting of selectmen, which provided an additional challenge for them - to say nothing of trying to wrangle a bunch of excited kids and keep them away from the expensive equipment. Still, Poirier seemed excited about the possibility of holding more tournaments.
“The way that I see that this is going, I’d absolutely like to do more. This has been fantastic. I think that the kids are having a great time, the announcers are doing a great job. It’s a challenging thing for Medfield TV to put on, and I think that’s great for our staff to be a part of. They’re really excited about it.”