Esports in MontrealOctober 4th, 2019
Electronic sports, also known as esports, have become a hugely popular social gaming phenomenon. It all began back in 1980, when Atari’s National Space Invader Championship Tournament marked a transition for video games from private, personal entertainment to public, organized competition. Since then, federations and esports leagues sprung up around the world, beginning with the now-defunct Cyberathlete Professional League in Texas in 1997. One of the largest and most active groups was founded in 2002: Major League Gaming, or MLG.
Digital games competitions continue to gather momentum around the world, including in Quebec. Major esporting tournaments, such as those organized by the Northern Arena company, are able to fill the Bell Centre and are covered by Quebec’s sports television network, RDS. This September, the Olympic Stadium hosted a DreamHack Montreal event: a gathering of 30,000 video games and esports fans. Dedicated players competed around the clock for days for $150,000 in prize money. According to one DreamHack Montreal spokesperson, only the Super Bowl is more popular than esports.
An ecosystem is emerging to support and professionalize the discipline. The Montreal Esports Academy, of which Georges St-Pierre is a co-owner and media spokesperson, celebrated its first anniversary in April. One year ago, the academy announced the launch of the first-ever school-based curriculum in Canada, in collaboration with école secondaire Édouard-Montpetit in the Commission scolaire de Montréal (Montreal’s French-language school board). The discipline is becoming professionalized: players may have agents and contracts, earn salaries and be sponsored by international corporations.
High-performance gaming aside, the new digital sports continue to be popular with many people who just want to play for fun. Fans can play esports at home on computers and consoles, but to try out the latest technology and play with a larger community, entertainment centres have more to offer. Here are a few esports gaming venues in Montreal.
Esports Central Arena
Esports Central Arena electronic sports entertainment complex covers 14,000 square feet in downtown Montreal and offers 94 high-end video games PCs, 25 XBOX and PS4 game consoles, 6 D-BOX racing simulators, and 2 Omni Virtuix virtual reality systems. This establishment also features a restaurant and bar with televisions that broadcast esports tournaments, private rooms for group events, and a shop.
Info: 1231 Sainte-Catherine Street West | 514 360-6372 | esportscentral.ca
Oratek360’s virtual game studio allows you to discover and experience virtual, augmented and mixed reality, in individual or group sessions. The studio includes ten stations for action games, simulations or relaxation; four viewing stations with VR headsets, and racing simulators. Beyond the walls of its studio, Oratek360 can send a technical team and animators for corporate events, parties, or public events, conferences and fairs.
Info: 55 De la Commune Street West | 514 282-9696 | oratek360.com
MontVR has seven virtual reality centres located across Quebec which offer VR immersion stations, including an exclusive experience, Birdly: a horizontal, articulated, hinged, VirtualReality system designed to simulate flying. They offer a wide range of games suitable for both solo and multiplayer sessions (for up to 10 people). Services include equipment rental for parties and corporate events.
Info: 4605 Saint-Denis Street | Place Alexis Nihon - 1500 Atwater Avenue | 866 668-8764 | montvr.com
The BoulZeye entertainment centre has a multiplayer virtual reality video game zone with two types of platforms: Chaos Jump, a 4-player facility; and BoulZeye VR, 4 stations each offering more than 20 games to be played solo or as a duo. BoulZeye is a huge establishment: it also houses a lasertag zone, a modern bowling alley, Escapology Escape Games, a pub, and a reception hall with a 120-person capacity, suitable for children’s birthdays or office parties.
Info: 3655 Tricentenaire Boulevard, Pointe-aux-Trembles | 514 498-2228 | boulzeye.ca
Powered by high-end equipment that, as the name suggests, pushes performance to its limit, the Zero Latency free-roaming virtual reality centre plunges participants into technology’s most immersive sensory experience. Their VR Room is designed to accommodate up to 8 players at a time in a space of more than 200 square metres. Various activities range from science fiction-based shooter games to physics-defying coordination games.
Info: 910 Jean-Talon Boulevard East | 514-274-9090 | zerolatencyvr.ca