The Game Gym offers memberships for kids that teaches them to make healthy lifestyle choices by balancing gaming with other activities, provide insight on game design, and much more. Hafkin realized how few local opportunities there were at the community level for kids to get involved in esports and esports training in general and he wanted to bridge that gap. His sports experience gave him confidence in serving as a knowledgable coach to kids who were interested in learning more about gaming opportunities and how to improve their own skills.
Since The Game Gym operates as a local club where kids and their families can come by in person and participate in numerous activities, including in-house tournaments, gaming in their private training rooms, and sitting in on presentations from guest gaming industry professionals – the impact of COVID-19 has caused some major changes to its community.Usually the memberships offered at The Game Gym included unlimited Gym access during open hours and access to classes and gaming tournaments that could be hosted in-house. Now, the staff has created a new system of online camp classes to supplement what would’ve been the summer camp program. Even with the unexpected hurdle of adjusting to stay-at-home life, The Game Gym has planned an entire special weekend of content to celebrate esports and the gaming community.
This event, The DMV’s End of Summer Bash, goes live on August 21 and will run until August 23. The event will have educational and entertainment panels throughout the weekend and host different gaming tournaments. The goal is to raise $25,000 for Extra Life, which supports the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Evan Shubin, the chief operating officer of The Game Gym, told IGN he’d first been a part of The Game Gym as a customer when his two sons introduced him to the world of gaming. About four years ago, Shubin believed gaming was a “waste of time” and got in the way of his children’s schoolwork. But when his son, Samuel, advocated for the game League of Legends and explained how its strategy-based gameplay actually taught him skills, Shubin realized there was a lot of technique and leadership involved – which was first step for him to realize gaming could offer much more than he thought.
Shubin saw how big gaming could be for his son’s future when Ohio State introduced an esports program and its own arena, so he jumped on board with Hafkin to help operate The Game Gym’s vision. When asked about his experience educating parents on the topic of gaming and the possibilities of gaming extending beyond just a hobby and becoming a career, Hafkin said he acts as a translator between the kid and their parents. He helps bridge the gap between the two to help understand the different worlds.
“A part of the issue that we’ve discovered is that the reason why we have so many issues is that no one is guiding our kids through their gaming process,” Hafkin said. “There are no coaches. Like, imagine if we taught football the way we teach gaming, which is essentially like watch a YouTube video then go do it.”
Hafkin wants to foster coaching and help kids to game better and smarter while also helping parents understand the importance of being there to guide the process and encourage them. The End of Summer Game Bash is a free event that anyone can watch on The Game Gym’s Twitch channel, and it will include interview panels, presentations from esports players and team managers, and entertainment panels from content creators. Anyone is able to enter the tournaments – they are not closed off to non-Game Gym members. Donations can be made during the livestream to directly fund Extra Life, and the fees required to enter the tournaments will all go toward the charity fundraising goal.
Stella Chung is a video producer at IGN.
Author’s note: Stella Chung will be involved in a panel for The Game Gym’s End of Summer Bash, live on the show on Saturday August 22 at 11:15 am ET/8:15 am PT. The event runs from August 21-23 and will have tournaments running for various games each evening that those interested can sign up for at the official website.