Gaming centre powers up at FRC


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Fort Richmond

Fort Richmond Collegiate has opened a gaming centre for members of its esports team to play and practice.

The centre comprises a small room with dimmed lights, packed with gaming gear. There are eight Alienware CPUs, which are designed specifically for gaming, with monitors that line two walls, and two large televisions.

At the opening announcement on Jan. 17, students crammed into the room alongside visitors who came to check out the space. As visitors chatted about the new set up, some students sat together on the floor playing Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros on one of the televisions and laughing, while others focused intently on League of Legends, a team-based game that the Fort Richmond Collegiate esports team played to win the provincial championship last year.

“There’s esports teams all around Manitoba … but a spot like this, I think we’re the only one in Manitoba,” said Jon Manness, Fort Richmond Collegiate vice-principal.

Manness, alongside teacher Philip Tat, spearheaded the initiative. Manness said he’s aware that there are skeptics about esports and has had debates with people in physical education about whether or not esports are sports, at all.

“But I realized it didn’t matter,” Manness said.

For Manness, what mattered was creating a variety of options for students of all interests.

“With kids, you want to have them want to come to school. For some kids, this is the thing that might bring them or it might just add to their experience at school. It’s not always an easy sell with esports, but more and more people are starting to recognized that it’s a growing industry, a growing sport, and that we do have a lot of students who are into it. We could fight it, but instead we say, let’s embrace this and get the kids excited.”

Manness said he’s already had a number of students come in and tell him, happily, how they’re surprised the school is being so accepting of esports.

Manness believes creating that accepting and happy atmosphere will help students elsewhere in their school experience.

“A happy student is a better learner … We’ve seen some students who really don’t talk to other students and don’t make many connections, but these students now are actually starting to branch out and they’re finding them in a space where there’s something that connects them,” he said.

Grade 12 student Gordon Zhang, who plays on the school’s esports team, said he’s excited about the new gaming centre.

“It’s great, because many people can come and play and share memories with friends. It’s a place for people to express their interests and stuff,” Zhang said.

Zhang said while he thinks the centre is a great addition to the school, he doesn’t see it as some giant leap into the future of sports.

“I think it’s just going to be another type of club,” he said. “Having fun with friends is the main thing. It’s the main reason why I play.”

Of course, being on last year’s provincial winning League of Legends team doesn’t hurt the experience either.

“It was pretty cool,” Zhang said.

Manness said he hopes that other schools in Winnipeg and around the province will follow suit on what has so far seemed to him to be a success.

“Just to see them in there and just feeling like that’s their space — it’s just exciting,” the vice-principal said.

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community Journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at or call him at 204-697-7206.

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