Competitive video gaming, also know as eSports, is a growing trend in northern Ontario.

Troy Chirka has been playing Super Smash Brothers for 15 years. But he only started getting competitive 2.5 years ago, when he realized there were others who took part in tournaments for the game. 

"It's a game that most people played for fun growing up," the 25-year-old said.

"Once they realize that there's a competitive scene, then a lot of people jump in." 

The passion Chirka has for Super Smash Brothers has led him to organize tournaments in Sudbury.

On March 19, a tournament for the game Super Smash Brothers will be held at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Sudbury. About 50 to 60 competitors from cities like Timmins, North Bay, Parry Sound and Toronto are expected to take part. 

Chirka said there are stereotypes out there about the kind of people who enjoy gaming, but adds the activity attracts a wide range of people who are just passionate about playing and want to make friends.

"You can see a police officer that plays Smash Bros. You can see an ambulance driver that plays Smash Bros,"  he said. 

"The average person who attends one of these is a hard-working individual. They're going to school, they're doing whatever with their own life."

Troy Chirka

Troy Chirka is organizing a tournament for the video game Super Smash Brothers. He says competing in the game builds community and friendships. (Samantha Lui/CBC)

Building community

Brendan Lehman, a graduate neuroscience student at Laurentian University, has studied the effect video games has on the brain. 

He says video games are often seen as a solitary activity. When gamers are able to meet others through competition, it becomes more exciting. 

"[Video gaming] gives people a chance to find an identity in a culture that they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. People can make friends." he said. 

"They have that interactive component. What you would do in that game is different than what someone else would do. Because you love that game, you're going to want to talk to other people about it and see what they did, what their experiences were." 

For Chirka, he said he loves competitive gaming because of the community it builds.

"The competitive Smash Bros. community is very welcoming and everybody comes out to have a good time," he said. 

"Certain people might have hard times in their lives. But when it comes down to playing [Super Smash Brothers], it's almost an escape for certain people. To see someone's happiness truly shine out in something as simple as a game is quite amazing to see."