Morningside senior Joshua Jackson competes in esports tournaments and is involved with the Omega Gents (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Morningside senior Joshua Jackson competes in esports. The state-of-the-art esports lab that was built on the campus earlier this year is a place where he can compete alongside like-minded students.

“I never really thought that niche stuff like this was ever really considered in the educational environment,” Jackson said. “I just wish that they would push more into kids that like stuff like this.”

Jackson began playing video games at an early age; from that came a passion for playing esports. He enjoys fighting games, like Super Smash Brothers. Jackson has competed in five online tournaments. A memorable moment was when he attended his first in-person tournament.

“I think it was the esports arena tournament,” Jackson said. “I’ve seen setups like these before that I’ve only seen in YouTube videos …That had to be the most memorable moment, seeing other like-minded individuals like myself in real life, bonding over the same thing.”

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Jackson has competed in eight in-person tournaments. Getting transportation to tournaments has been a challenge for him. Another issue he faces is dealing with the stigma of esports not being a financially successful endeavor.

“Some people don’t find [esports] important,” he said. “I think that it’s cool that this is getting recognized because it deserves it. Kids who like stuff like this deserve to have an outlet to express themselves.”

After school, Jackson spends some time playing video games, but makes sure to work on his homework as well. Jackson knows that he must prioritize academics if he wants to reach his goals.

“In order to get a well-standing paying job, you have to be well educated,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons why I want to go to college.”

Outside of academics and esports, Jackson is a member of the Omega Gents, which is a youth mentoring program.

“It helps kids like me go out there and help our communities,” he said. “We mentor younger students, such as elementary school, middle school, and we do community service.”

Jackson also has a job to help pay for transportation and tournament fees. The Morningside teachers that run the esports lab remind him how experience in esports can lead to several different lucrative careers.

After high school, Jackson wants to major in creative writing. He ultimately wants to create an animated television series.