MESA brings community together through gaming

The Computer Source esports lounge has six gaming PCs and a Playstation 3, which can be freely used by Macomb Esports Association (MESA) members.

Nicholas Ebelhack

Macomb High School Senior Chase DeWitt has been trying to bring his community together through gaming over the past few years. While managing his Magic: The Gathering team (Team Macomb) and working at A Boy and His Tiger (ABAHT), he has been bringing the competitive gaming scene to the area.

“I’ve been working on the Macomb Esports Assocation (MESA) for about three years now,” DeWitt said. “It started as the Macomb High School Esports Co-op. We had bylaws that we were writing up so that we could set up tournaments between schools.”

However, the school board denied DeWitt’s initial request to be a recognized organization. According to him, it was because of the prevalence of violence in competitive gaming.

“It’s sort of a hard pitch for a Midwestern school,” DeWitt said.

Without the school’s approval, DeWitt decided to take his plans to a bigger audience and founded MESA with the help of Brandon Thompson, the co-owner of ABAHT.

“He was the first business to reach out to us and give us some backing,” DeWitt said. “When we were running LAN (Local Area Network) parties, our first events, Brandon gave us things to raffle off to the players and we got a good showing from high school kids.”

Thompson said that although he was involved, DeWitt’s presence in his store was what enabled ABAHT to get involved.

“About a year or so ago I was doing (‘Super Smash Bros.’) tournaments here, and he wanted to do Esports at the high school and he did the footwork for it,” Thompson said. “But we were always talking about it since he has worked here for a while and he helps out with the Magic and Pokémon cards.”

MESA also got backing from The Computer Source, owned by Matt Jackson, which has provided equipment that the organization uses to host tournaments. In addition, the store has set up a gaming lounge with gaming PCs and a Playstation 3 for people to come and play at.

“If you are part of the Macomb Esports Association you will be able to go there for free,” DeWitt said. “If you aren’t he is going to be charging an hourly rate to use the PCs, like $5.”

With the access to the equipment and a venue to host tournaments at, DeWitt said that the organization’s goals are becoming a reality, and they hope to get their non-profit status soon as well.

“We are striving to nurture and grow the competitive scene in and around the Macomb area,” DeWitt said, “as well as being able to provide people who aren’t able to play otherwise the opportunity to use gaming PCs or video games in general to help keep them off the streets rather than hanging around and loitering.”

MESA is planning on getting their non-profit status through Genesis Garden as a program for them, and DeWitt said that they will be helping them with the paperwork so that MESA can be recognized by the city government.

MESA hosts their meetings at Macomb High School, which DeWitt said was ironic because of how they were initially denied.

“It’s funny because we weren’t allowed in the school and now we can host meetings there,” DeWitt said.

Other MESA sponsors include Make It Macomb, which has been assisting them with advertising, and Buffalo Wild Wings, which hosts fundraisers for their events.

Thompson explained how the organization has been working hard to get the numbers that they have now for their events.

“We have heavy discussion on making sure that our tournaments turn out the way (we want) and making sure we get good outcomes as far as members go,” Thompson said. “We talk about how we are going to get students to come out and play as well as locals to come out consistently.“We aren’t trying to make money off of this, we just really want a strong community to participate in Esports for all types of games.”

He further said that he is expecting a trickle of new players to join now that fall classes are back in session, and that they will need to work on the venue to make sure they can handle having more people.

“We also want to do other events and eventually expand into other games such as ‘Madden’ or ‘Overwatch’ or ‘FIFA’ and stuff like that,” Thompson said.

Moving forward, DeWitt said he is planning on getting MESA members identification cards so that they can get special discounts. Their next event is on Aug. 28, which is a tournament for “Overwatch” and “Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U.”

“The winner of the ‘Smash’ tournament will be awarded a sponsorship to go play at ‘Show Me Your Moves,’ the longest-running ‘Smash’ tournament in North America, and that’s hosted at University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign,” DeWitt said.

The tournament will be hosted at the Regional District Office of Education with a players meeting at 10:30 a.m.