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HV Gamer Con Announces Broadcast Partnership

Organizers of the Hudson Valley Gamer Con have announced a partnership to broadcast the collegiate tournament taking place in Albany later this month.

The second Hudson Valley Gamer Con is set for March 30and 31 at the Albany Capital Center. But if you can’t attend in person, organizers say esports company N3rd Street Gamers will help broadcast the event online. The company’s Director of Partnerships, Danny Harvith, says he was eager to get involved after watching organizations like the Eastern College Athletic Conference, or ECAC, take esports more seriously.

“Every university is exploring esports right now. They’re talking to their club teams and figuring out how to make varsity teams, building amenities and arenas on their campus, exploring with events," says Harvith. "So to see a conference partner like the ECAC really driving this forward and connecting all those universities, it’s a very big deal.”

N3rd Street Gamers will broadcast three concurrent livestreams on Twitch.tv featuring each of the games being played at the Con: League of Legends, Overwatch, and Fortnite. If you’re wondering what an esports broadcast looks like, Harvith says it’s no different than traditional sports broadcasts you’d see on TV, with commercial and game breaks included. 

“These are, you know, 12 hours each day, so it’s a long, kind of ongoing, live event," Harvith says. "There’s gonna be play-by-play casters to do the play-by-play and analysis, very similar to a live sports broadcast, traditional sports.”

Harvith says thousands of viewers are expected to tune into the tournament. So far 18 colleges are sending esports teams to the Albany competition. Dan Coonan, President and CEO of the ECAC, says esports is becoming more important to the conference.

"We put on football bowl games, we put on basketball games — we put on all sorts of tournaments, and we don't get the type of excitement about anything that we're doing right now that we're getting from esports, and the calls I'm fielding every week about it," says Coonan. 

The tournament comes at a time when the video game industry in the Capital Region is growing. It has long been home to Vicarious Visions, which was acquired by Activision in 2005 and helped make the billion-dollar Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Center for Economic Growth President and CEO Andrew Kennedy says the number of video game studios in the region grew from 14 to 21 in the past year.

“This tournament is a way not only to take advantage and highlight a lot of the unique assets that are coming in this emerging trend with esports, but allow us, as part of this, to host an expo and demonstrate to those in esports of the unique assets that this region has to offer," explains Kennedy. 

Kennedy says the growth added 5.6 percent more jobs to the area’s industry.

"Where we see there's a need: to continue to advance and talk about the need for talent," Kennedy points out. "And then the need to develop like, the coworking space, the incubator space where these individuals can develop their programs and their skills on developing next-generation games." 

The tournament also comes at a busy time for downtown Albany, with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference hosting the NCAA women’s basketball tournament at the Times Union Center the same weekend. MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor says the overlap is an opportunity.

"We do see opportunities here where the two events can support each other, allowing the egamers to have an opportunity to attend the traditional sports events," Ensor says. "Many of our athletes that play traditional sports also play Fortnite and the other games that are going to be sponsored as part of the Gamer Con." 

Ensor says the conference is hoping to announce esports as an official club sport this June.

"I want to single out my son Kiernan," Ensor smiles. "He was going out the door to an esports event at the [Madison Square] Garden, I said, 'You're going to watch TV? You know, watch people play games on TV?' And he said, 'Dad, it's sold out.' And that was a word that really intrigued me: 'sold out.'"

Jesse King is the host of "51%" and a producer for WAMC's afternoon news programs. She also produces the WAMC podcast, "A New York Minute In History."
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